Earlier today, members of the Bureau of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) and the Defence and Territorial Integrity Committee of the National Assembly of Afghanistan (Wolesi Jirga) came together to discuss the security situation in Afghanistan, the intra-Afghan peace process and the way forward. NATO PA President Gerald E. Connolly (United States) and Chairperson Mir Haidar Afzali were joined by seven members of the NATO PA Bureau and four members of the Wolesi Jirga.
“NATO governments recently took a decision together to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan,” President Connolly said after the meeting. “This was a very difficult decision, but one we had to take.”
“For two decades, our nations and the brave men and women of our armed forces have stood shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan, as it has built and consolidated political institutions and security forces,” he stressed. “Over these years, Allies, partners and Afghanistan have sacrificed enormously. Many have paid the ultimate price.”
“All of us are conscious that the current situation in Afghanistan is difficult,” President Connolly noted. “And while the time has come for us to draw down and let the Afghan institutions and security forces take full charge of Afghanistan’s future, this is not the end of the story, but the opening, I hope, of a new chapter.”
“We must preserve the significant achievements, including the democratic processes and institutions Afghanistan has put in place as well as the rights and freedoms all Afghans currently enjoy – men and women alike.”
“Diplomacy is and must remain the way forward,” President Connolly stressed. “The Taliban must cease their continued attacks and take part in peace talks in good faith. They must understand they will never be recognised by the international community if they reject the political process and try to take the country by force.”
At the recent NATO Summit, Allies underlined their continued support. They will continue to support Afghanistan by providing out-of-country training and financial support for the Afghan security forces and institutions. They will maintain a solid diplomatic presence in Kabul to channel ongoing political and economic assistance. Allies will also support the continued functioning of the international airport, which is crucial for maintaining of political and practical support from the international community. Crucially, they remain committed to supporting peace efforts in Afghanistan.
Over the past two decades, the NATO PA has kept a strong focus on the situation in Afghanistan. While the Afghan parliament holds no formal status with the Assembly, delegations of Assembly members have regularly travelled to Afghanistan to meet with their fellow legislators as well as Afghan and NATO officials. Members of the Parliament of Afghanistan have participated in Assembly meetings since 2007.