Minister Di Maio to the EU Foreign Affairs Council on the situation in Afghanistan:
“Yesterday, speaking from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, I took part in the EU Foreign Affairs Council, which met virtually to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.
I indicated the Government’s 5 priorities as part of a strategy that is shared at the European level.
• First: the protection of civilians. The safety of the Afghans who have collaborated with the international community and of personalities who have spoken out in favour of human and civil rights must remain at the centre of our efforts.
In this regard, Italy – for as long as conditions allow – will maintain a diplomatic presence at Kabul airport and will continue the evacuation operations of other Italians and the Afghan citizens who have supported our Embassy and our military contingent.
In these hours and in the coming days we will need to work on an internationally coordinated initiative to ensure that humanitarian flights take place and to make sure that this emergency is replaced by an organised process.
• Second: respect for individual rights and civil liberties. We cannot tolerate that the achievements of these two past decades are lost. I am thinking in particular of women’s rights, to which the Spanish-initiated declaration is dedicated, and to which we have adhered. Ensuring respect for international human rights law and standards must be a clear condition for the Taliban; if not, the penalty will be international isolation of their country.
• Third: the migratory impact. We are aware that the demand for receiving refugees and migrants from Afghanistan will increase. It is, therefore, necessary for the EU to develop a shared response, in this case too in close cooperation with the partners in the region and at the same time, providing them with the necessary support.
• Fourth: the humanitarian situation. Firstly, there is a need to renew the call for international organisations to be granted full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the country.
The international community must continue to ensure that the indispensable humanitarian assistance is provided to the Afghan people.
• Fifth: the fight against terrorism. We cannot allow Afghanistan to return to being a breeding ground for terrorist groups and a threat to international security. We must find alliances and involve all countries that share this same concern, particularly those in the region, as well as Russia and China.
We have the moral duty not to turn our backs on Afghanistan. We must remain united as the European Union, and in collaboration with our partners in NATO.
Italy will continue its commitment, paying special attention to women and young people and continuing with cooperation projects.
The Member States that are present at Kabul airport, including Italy, must ensure maximum solidarity and cooperation amongst themselves and with their allies so that the evacuation operations can be completed.
As we have always said: ‘in together, out together’. This must continue to apply now.”