EU Gives Taliban Conditions, Including Press Freedom, to Ensure Interaction with Bloc

European Union officials have given the Taliban a set of conditions, including rule of law and press freedom, to ensure interaction with the 27-nation bloc.

Though foreign diplomats from EU member countries were evacuated after the Taliban took over Afghanistan last month, officials have said they are willing to cooperate with the Taliban and Afghanistan.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc wants to see an inclusive transition government formed in Afghanistan. He also stressed for the Taliban to follow the conditions, including press freedom and allowing foreigners and those who fear for their lives to leave the country.

"Our engagement will depend on the fulfillment of these conditions," Borrell said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Josep Borrell
The European Union established conditions the Taliban must meet in order for the 27-nation bloc to interact with them as the new rulers of Afghanistan. Above, European High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell sits behind the table at the start of the informal meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia on September 2, 2021. Jure Makovec/AFP via Getty Images

The EU is focusing on delivering humanitarian aid, guaranteeing the safe passage out of the country of Afghan collaborators and employees who were left behind during the airlifts from Kabul, and trying to prevent a mass exodus of refugees that could prompt another migration crisis in Europe.

Following meetings with European foreign affairs ministers in Slovenia, Borrell said that to gauge the Taliban's good will, the bloc would use several benchmarks.

They include a guarantee that Afghanistan won't become a base for "the export of terrorism to other countries," a commitment to free access for humanitarian aid deliveries, rule of law and adhering to standards in the areas of human rights.

"What is clear is that the future of Afghanistan remains a key issue for us," Borrell said. "It affects us, it affects the region, the international stability, and it has a direct impact for European security.

"At the same time, the ministers strongly insisted on the idea that we remain committed to supporting the Afghan population."

The EU has suspended development assistance to the Afghan government but has pledged about 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) for the country for 2021-2024.

To ensure the evacuation of EU nationals and Afghan staff under the protection of member states and to assess how the Taliban respect the bloc's conditions, Borrell said that ministers agreed to establish a "joint European Union presence" in Kabul, if security conditions are met.

Foreign affairs ministers also acknowledged the need to coordinate with Afghanistan's neighbors through an EU regional political platform of cooperation aimed at stabilizing the whole region.

"This political platform will consider, among other issues, the management of population flows from Afghanistan; the prevention of the spread of terrorism; the fight against organized crime, including drug trafficking and human being smuggling," Borrell said.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Anze Logar, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, said such cooperation will try "to stop any future migration flows" to the bloc.

EU Foreign Ministers
European Union officials listed Friday a set of conditions to the Taliban, including the respect of human rights and rule of law, to ensure engagement with the 27-nation bloc. Above, EU foreign ministers pose for a group photo during a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the Brdo Congress Center in Kranj, Slovenia, on September 3, 2021. Darko Bandic/AP Photo