EU needs to radically rethink Afghanistan exit strategy: MEPs

08:10, November 11, 2010      

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The European parliament adopted a report on Wednesday underlining the need for the European Union ( EU) to rethink its strategy in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament approved a report outlining the priorities of a new EU strategy for Afghanistan in four key areas, namely engaging in a peace process with all Afghan players, improving the quality of police training, improving the coordination of international aid and eliminating opium cultivation.

"The EU and its allies need to acknowledge continuous deterioration in security and the socio-economic situation in the country, despite almost a decade of international involvement, and understand the need to get the Afghans fully involved in the exit strategy," said the report.

Members of the European Parliaments (MEPs) blame the country's slow rebuilding and development on the coalition forces' miscalculations regarding the underestimated presence of the Taliban and the overestimated ability of the Karzai government to provide governance.

The EU should engage in peace process talks with all Afghan players, including political leaders, the Taliban and other combatant groups, and make a common commitment to eliminate poppy cultivation, to respect fundamental human rights and to banish terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.

Deploring the high number of illiterates and drug abusers among the Afghan police forces as well as the ineffective training provided by U.S. private security companies, MEPs propose a large- scale training program to be launched jointly by the EU and NATO, and incorporating the national police units.

To improve coordination of international aid, MEPs call on the EU to set up a centralized database of all EU aid and to allocate more funds directly to projects run in partnership with Afghan institutions. They also welcome the international decision to channel 50 percent of the international aid through the Afghan national budget in 2012.

Moreover, the parliament draws attention to the huge cost of the war, estimated at 300 billion U.S. dollars between 2001 and 2009, and criticizes the United States for combating the insurgency through the use of drones, special forces and local militias, thus resulting in frequent civilian casualties and discrediting the international intervention.

MEPs finally call for a five-year national plan for the switch from opium cultivation to alternative crops, such as saffron, to be implemented by a new agency to be created with its own budget and staff. They also suggest national law should ban the use of chemicals and herbicides to destroy the poppy fields.

Source: Xinhua


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