The European Union’s foreign policy chief called on the bloc to provide financial assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbors.


EU foreign policy chief Giuseppe Borrell Image: File.

ROME: EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell on Monday called on the bloc to provide financial assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbors, saying the co-operation would help them handle refugees fleeing the Taliban.

Borrell expressed these views in an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Monday.

The group’s return to power in Kabul on August 15 has left the future of many Afghans uncertain and raised fears that millions could seek refuge in neighboring countries and Europe.

“We need to increase cooperation with neighboring countries to resolve issues related to Afghanistan. We must help them in the first wave of refugees,” Borrell told the newspaper.

“Afghans fleeing the country are not going to Rome first, but perhaps to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. We need to help countries that are on the front lines.”

Asked if he would receive European funding to host Afghan refugees, he said: “Europe has its own limitations in its ability to absorb and nothing can be done without strong co-operation.”

“Neighboring countries will be affected more and more than Europe. So yes, it also means providing financial assistance to those countries, as we have done with Turkey.”

In 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with the European Union to block the influx of migrants to Europe in return for some concessions, including financial assistance.

Turkey is currently hosting about 3.7 million refugees from the Syrian conflict.

Borrell said the crisis in Afghanistan caused by the withdrawal of US troops has highlighted the need for the European Union to have its own military capability.

“The European Union must be able to intervene to protect our interests when Americans do not want to be involved,” Borrell said.

“Our first entry force should be 5,000 troops that we can mobilize in a short time. We have EU combat groups but they have never been mobilized. We need to be able to act fast.”

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