The Council adopted the following conclusions Monday:
1. The Council welcomes the start of the transition process in Afghanistan this month.
2. It believes that there is no alternative to an Afghan-led process leading to a political solution to the conflict. It stands ready to support these efforts, while stressing the importance of close coordination between all parties involved. In this context, it recognizes the High Peace Council’s efforts to forge a broad national consensus in support of peace and reconciliation.
3. Following the death of Usama bin Laden and the creation of a new sanctions regime for the Afghan insurgency, those who have participated in the insurgency now have an opportunity to participate in the political process. While there should be no conditions for the beginning of political talks, the outcome must be in line with the red lines laid down by the Afghan Government and supported by the international community: renouncing violence, cutting ties with Al Qaeda and respect for the Afghan constitution including its provisions on human rights. Particular attention must be paid to the rights of women.
4. The EU reiterates its strong commitment to Afghanistan’s development and to the transition process during the period until the end of 2014, when responsibility for security will be fully in the hands of the Afghan authorities, and beyond. This is a priority for the EU. The EU notes that transition in the security field must go hand in hand with sustainable progress in governance, rule of law and development.
5. For the EU’s long-term engagement to succeed, the conditions on the ground, especially as regards security, must allow its support to Afghanistan’s development to be delivered safely throughout the country. Moreover, Afghanistan should take the necessary measures to reinforce the democratic institutions of governance, including oversight by elected bodies at both national and sub-national levels, in particular as regards the flows and use of public finances. The independent role of the parliament, of the judiciary and of the authorities charged with audit must be respected and progressively strengthened. The Council expresses its concern about the lack of progress in the areas of governance, rule of law and anticorruption and calls upon the Government of Afghanistan to show determined leadership in delivering on the commitments made at the July 2010 Kabul Conference .
6. In this respect the EU urges Afghanistan and the IMF to reach an agreement rapidly, so that the crisis following the collapse of the Kabul Bank can be resolved in a pragmatic and transparent way, for the benefit of Afghanistan’s financial sector as well as to allow development flows to resume as soon as possible. The EU appeals to the Afghan institutions to find a constitutional solution to the problems which have arisen following the 2010 parliamentary elections. This solution should preserve the separation of powers and the integrity of the institutions of state.
7. The Council noted that these issues will play a major role in ensuring a successful and irreversible transition and in shaping the international community’s long term commitment in Afghanistan. In the International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on 5 December 2011, the international community will take stock of the transition process, lay the foundation for international long-term engagement, and discuss the political process in Afghanistan as well as its regional aspects. Progress on previous commitments taken on by Afghanistan is relevant to this debate.
8. The Council expresses its willingness to negotiate an ambitious and balanced EU-Afghanistan agreement reflecting its long-term commitment to the country’s development as well as the principles and conditions on which the future partnership will be based. It invites the EEAS and the Commission to draft a negotiation mandate for a cooperation agreement ahead of the Bonn Conference.
9. Appropriate resources need to be made available to fund the EU’s future action in Afghanistan, including for the coordinated implementation of the EU Action Plan, both by Member States and by the EU. As the Plan specifies, it will also be important for the EU and Member States to further align their development activities to the priorities identified by the Afghan government. At the same time, however, the EU expects the international community as a whole as well as Afghanistan to address these challenges. It is therefore all the more important that coordination mechanisms such as the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board should increase their effectiveness and that the UNAMA continue to play a central role. The EU recognizes that coordination on the ground with all international actors, including NATO, under Afghan leadership, will be necessary to meet our common goals.
10. In this context the EU reiterates the importance of its work on sub-national governance, civil service and civilian police training and capacity building, and the rule of law, as foreseen in the EU Action Plan. The EU decided to reinforce its support, in close cooperation with the UN and the international community, for reform of the electoral system and the strengthening of the independent electoral institutions. The Council also favours enhanced cooperation between the EU institutions and the Afghan Parliament, as well as with Afghan civil society.
11. The EU remains committed to supporting the Afghan police and to helping improve the quality of the service it provides. The Council will consider how this can best be done by the EU and, as part of this, the Council decided to look into the development of a post-2013 strategy for EUPOL AFGHANISTAN.
12. It stresses, furthermore, that the counterpart of an effective Afghan police force is an effective and transparent justice system. Afghanistan should honour its commitments to the reform of the justice sector and to strengthen the rule of law. The EU will continue to play an important role in this effort.
13. Production and trafficking of drugs and precursors remain a major threat to the stability and governance of Afghanistan and continue to be a major source of revenue for the insurgency. This has a direct impact on areas such as agriculture, health and policing, and impedes the development of legitimate economic alternatives to the cultivation of opium which are more beneficial to the general population of Afghanistan. The EU accordingly calls on the Afghan authorities to continue to address these issues in a holistic way, and on the international community to step up cooperation, including at a regional level and through the UNODC Paris Pact. The EU is ready to support these efforts, as appropriate.
14. The EU and Member States intend to engage with the Government of Afghanistan on migration issues, especially on combating and preventing illegal migration and strengthening cooperation on return issues and readmission.
15. Regional cooperation is essential both in the field of security and of economic development. The EU expresses support for the steps taken towards an intensified dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan on these matters. It notes the potential for closer regional integration through regional trade and transit networks. The EU will support initiatives to realize this potential and to increase private sector involvement in the long-term development strategy for Afghanistan. The EU underlined the importance of both the Bonn Conference and the forthcoming Istanbul Conference in November in advancing the regional agenda.