Remarks by President Charles Michel following the G7 leaders’ meeting on Afghanistan via videoconference

We just participated in the virtual G7 leaders’ meeting on Afghanistan.

First, we tackled what remains our most pressing priority: the safe evacuation of the coalition’s citizens, Afghan staff, and their families.

The EU and its member states spare no effort to evacuate EU citizens, and those who have partnered trustfully with us. We are concerned, about their ability to safely reach the Kabul airport. We call on the new Afghan authorities, to allow free passage to all foreign, and Afghan citizens, who wish to get to the airport.

We have also raised this issue with our American friends and partners on two particular aspects: first, the need to secure the airport, as long as necessary, to complete the operations; and second, a fair and equitable access to the airport, for all nationals entitled to evacuation.

On humanitarian aid and migration, I will just make two remarks.

First, the EU will do its part, to support the safety and proper living conditions of Afghans, who flee their country. We will work with the countries in the region, especially Iran, Pakistan, and central Asia, to address the different needs. International protection will be needed for those facing persecution and for other vulnerable Afghans. And EU member states will contribute to this international effort.

Second point: let’s be clear, let’s not allow the creation of a new market for smugglers and human traffickers. We are determined to keep the migratory flows under control and the EU’s borders protected.

Today it is too early to decide what kind of relations we will develop with the new Afghan authorities. We call for an inclusive political settlement and if we want to remain a positive influence for the Afghan people, especially in supporting their basic needs, we will have to deal with the new authorities.

This will be subject to strict conditions, regarding the deeds and attitude of the new regime. Both in preserving the political, economic and social achievements for the Afghan citizens, and their human rights, notably of women, girls and minorities. And in terms of the international obligations of Afghanistan – in particular, security, the fight against terrorism, and drug trafficking.

On security, the cooperation between NATO and other allies will be key. Sharing data among allies and partners, to prevent entry of foreign terrorist fighters will also play an important role.

Finally, on the geopolitical implications of these event: ending the military operation in Afghanistan is not the end of our commitment to promoting rule of law, democracy, and human rights in the world. On the contrary, we should be more determined than ever. This must be clear to actors who are trying to take advantage of the current situation. The EU will continue to firmly protect and promote its interests and values.

And to conclude: there will be more lessons, to draw from what happened in Afghanistan. These events show, that developing our strategic autonomy, while keeping our alliances as strong as ever, is of the utmost importance, for the future of Europe. In due time, I will propose a discussion on this question to my fellow leaders of the European Council.

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