EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent remarks on nation-building in Afghanistan “arguable” on Thursday and blamed the US administration for making financial investments producing “very modest results” in the country.
Speaking to MEPs from the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee in a video meeting on the current situation in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, Borell expressed confusion over Biden’s recent declaration that the U.S. intervention there had “always been preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland” and was “never supposed to be creating a unified centralized democracy.”
“Well, this is arguable,” Borrell said. “We have been doing a lot in order to build a state in Afghanistan … a state that could guarantee the rule of law and the respect for rule of law and fundamental freedoms (…)”
“What has happened raises many questions about the West’s 20-year engagement in the country and what we were able to achieve,” he added.
Borrell’s remarks echoed concerns in many EU capitals about Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and allow the country to collapse into the arms of the Taliban. He recalled the first objective of U.S. and international engagement was the fight against al-Qaeda in the wake of the September 11 attacks, “but gradually the collective ambition shifted towards the construction of a modern state of Afghanistan.”
Borrell also blamed the U.S. for spending “300 million a day for the last 20 years” in the country, “ultimately, with very modest results.” He called on US officials to be cautious about their support for the creation of a “national unity government” with the Taliban and former government members.
“Allow me to be skeptical about this possibility,” Borell told MEPs. “The Taliban are presenting a nice face (…) But frankly speaking, we have to be extremely cautious.” The EU’s top diplomat had previously called for dialogue with the extremist group in Afghanistan to prevent a humanitarian crisis, but he also insisted it did not mean international recognition.
His views were echoed by many MEPs, including Nathalie Loiseau, who chairs the Parliament’s Development Committee.
“We also thought America was back, but America is withdrawing,” she said. “We thought NATO was able to do nation-building, and that was a great illusion.”
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