“The European Union welcomes the launch of the direct Intra-Afghan Negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban mouvement” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell. He described the talks which started in Doha, capital of Qatar, as a “ground-breaking moment”.
“It marks the start of a genuine peace process, which should lead to the peace that the people of Afghanistan deserve and have long demanded.
“As the European Union, we urge the parties to accompany the start of the peace talks with an immediate, comprehensive, nationwide and unconditional ceasefire.
“With this new chapter opening, a mere reduction of violence is no longer enough. Now all preconditions are fulfilled, nothing should prevent a ceasefire from being accepted and implemented by both parties” the head of the European diplomacy continued.
“This process must now be truly owned and led by Afghans. International partners must respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence when supporting these negotiations.
It must preserve and build on the political, economic and social achievements of the citizens of Afghanistan since 2001, especially on women’s rights” Borrell said.
“To achieve this, the European Union is working with all parties. We want to ensure that peace negotiations are inclusive and respectful of the wish of Afghans to live in a peaceful, secure and prosperous country. A country with economic development and growth, providing new opportunities for its citizens, where rights are upheld and vulnerable groups are protected”.
“Let the start of these negotiations be the much-needed and long overdue beginning of a new and more peaceful chapter for Afghanistan”.
However, the experts say that assembling all groups involved in the conflict at the negotiating table doesn’t necessarily mean they all believe a mutually acceptable political settlement. It can be tactical for all sides to demonstrate that the situaiton is evolving, and for the government in Kabul to show to the international community the progress they have achieved.
The success of peace negotiations depends directly on the resources of the groups involved and their capablities to continue fighting. However it also depends on them changing their perception of the conflict which in almost two decades has shown that neighter of the sides is capable of the definitive victory.
While all parties express their willingness to end the prtotracted conflict, there are doubts whether the peace efforts could have got this far without US pressure for intra-Afghan negotiations to begin. In spite of the the US diplomatic involvement aimed at the end of the violence, and Trump administration insistance to reach the deal before the US election on November 3, the perspectives of implementing it is not guaranteed.
The talks could be concluded with a de jure peace agreement being imposed on Afghanistan, however there are doubts in sincere will of the envolved parties to respect it on long term, while Taliban has never renounced its ambition to ascend power in Kabul. In some areas the differences are still remarkable: the administration of the President Ashraf Ghani is seraching for preservation of numerous rights, namely women’s rights. Among the delegation of the 21 government negociators, who came to Doha, four are women, while among Taliban they are none.
The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, said that “Afghan society doesn’t have a deadline”. Taking into consideration the massive human cost of the two decades of war, these peace efforts must be given a genuine chance – along with the necessary time and space to succeed, the experts conclude.