Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, June 20th, 2019

Stoltenberg: NATO Fully Supports Afghan Peace and democratic values

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Stoltenberg: NATO Fully Supports Afghan Peace  and democratic values

Last week, the Foreign ministers of NATO’s 29 member countries had meetings in Washington to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary and discuss security threats, including Russia and Afghanistan. In regard to Afghanistan, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed on serious efforts and supports to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, reported by multiple sources. On Wednesday During a rare address in the US Congress, he promised that the Alliance would remain in Afghanistan to fight terrorism and support the peace process and protects the democratic values hardly achieved in past eighteen years.
He said that NATO has created the conditions for social and economic progress in Afghanistan with bringing education and human rights to women and girls. Their rights must be preserved.The NATO Secretary General mentioned that over a thousand have paid the ultimate price and many more have been seriously wounded, adding that “we honor their service and their sacrifice”. Before this, the US President Donald Trump said that the Afghan war has been an “endless war” but pointing to the Afghan peace talks emphasized that lots of positive things are happening in Afghanistan. Meeting with Stoltenberg at Whitehouse on Tuesday, Trump labeled the war in Afghanistan “ridiculous and unfortunate” adding that 19 years have passed since the war began. Trump said the US and its NATO allies have made great strides in Afghanistan and are working to end the long-lasted war. 
“NATO will remain in Afghanistan to fight terrorism and to train Afghan forces. Our goal is not to stay there forever and we have no goal to have a permanent presence in Afghanistan.We should not stay any longer than is necessary,” Stoltenberg added. “We went in together. We will decide on our future presence together. And when the time comes, we will leave together,” he said. He said NATO fully supports the Afghan peace process and that it should pave the way for reconciliation. “NATO fully supports the peace process. It must pave the way for Afghan reconciliation. There can only be peace if Afghanistan stays free from international terrorists. And for peace to be sustainable it must build on our achievements,” he added.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said the Taliban cannot win on the battlefields and that it is better for the group to sit with the Afghan government at the negotiation table and find a political settlement. Stoltenberg said the only way that can bring a settlement in Afghanistan is political options and that the US and NATO support Afghanistan Security and Defense Forces and these forces will never lose on the battlefields to the Taliban. “There can only be peace, if Afghanistan stays free from international terrorists,” he said, adding that “And for peace to be sustainable it must build on our achievements.”
Later, on Thursday, he also had a press conference ahead of the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Washington D.C. where he said the alliance wants a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict and that they strongly support the efforts that would end to such a solution.  Stoltenberg said the role of NATO in fighting terrorism will be assessed and the US Secretary Mike Pompeo will update the participants on Afghan peace talks. “We will also assess NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism. Secretary Pompeo will update us on the peace negotiations. And all NATO Allies strongly support the efforts to find a negotiated peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, to the war in Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg said.
He said NATO allies are consulting closely on the situation of Afghanistan and that the US and the alliance together are assessing Afghanistan’s situation and will make decisions on their future presence.“So we are doing an assessment together with the United States because the United States is a member of NATO. So we will discuss the situation in Afghanistan later on today,” he said. He said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has updated NATO on peace talks adding that they want a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. “To have Afghan reconciliation, we need, of course, to have the Afghan government to be part of that. And therefore the talks which are now taking place is only the first stage,” he added. The NATO chief said the next stage has to be Afghan reconciliation in which the Afghan government should be involved.
These show a general agreement in terms of ending war and preserving the past eighteen year’s achievement. Similar to these, recently the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Maria Mogherini also pledged to support from Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process with preserving the achievements attained in past eighteen years. During her visit from Kabul, she pledged that the European Union will continue supporting the Afghan peace process and that there should be a ceasefire in order to move forward the peace talks.
Along with this, Afghan government and people have always emphasized on ending war but have stressed on preserving past achievements; According to Afghan people, the achievements of past eighteen years must be preserved and the constitution should be considered as the basis of peace process. Peace must lead to stability and security; if the peace does not provide people with security and stability, it will not be sustainable. People do not want to victimize the two decades achievements and democratic system for unclear peace as there is no real peace without democracy. These are the values that no one is ready to lose in Afghanistan. In addition, Afghan citizens want the government to have a strong presence in the negotiation as representative of them.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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