Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of Afghanistan, says his country is making progress despite many setbacks
**It’s been 17 years since the fall of the Taliban here in Kabul and Afghanistan. Billions of dollars have been spent, thousands of soldiers and civilians have died. And Afghanistan is synonymous with bombs, suicide attacks and conflict. Where is the country heading to? Is there any chance for the establishment of the security and peace with Taliban? **__These are the questions we asked Afghan officials.
Euronews: What is your assessment of the past years? Unity and progress with President Ashraf’s team - or disagreements and the story of two kings in a single kingdom?
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chief Executive of Afghanistan: The National Unity Government took charge during a controversial election and a challenging security and military transfer from international to Afghan forces. There was also an economic transition and a sharp change in the situation of the people. So we were in unknown territory from a security, military and defence point of view. It was at this time that the National Unity government took charge. And during this time, considering the withdrawal of most of the international troops from Afghanistan, everyone predicted the collapse of the regime. So, in the last three years we have made gains as well as losses.
Euronews: About 100 civilians were killed daily in Afghanistan last year qone! Who is responsible for protecting the lives of people?
Abdullah Abdullah: Without a doubt, it’s our responsibility as a government. However we see that these groups [extremists] have been able to carry out terrorist attacks even in the safest countries of the world.
Euronews: The Presidential Palace beats the drum of war and at the same talks of peace with the Taliban, opting for none at the end of the day. What’s the official policy of the government towards the Taliban? Peace or war?
Abdullah Abdullah: Whoever leads the country must assume responsibility and try to establish peace. At the same time, if there is no chance for peace and the war continues then defending the country is our responsibility.
Euronews: Some observers believe that if US and NATO forces leave Afghanistan forever, we will see a return to the 1990s, marked by bloody and destructive wars.
Abdullah Abdullah: God willing, this scenario belongs to the past. The majority of people in Afghanistan have come to believe there is only way to resolve these issues - and to determine the fate of the nation. And that is through the ballot box
Euronews: You are a strong critic of Pakistan?
Amrullah Saleh, Former Head of Intelligence of Afghanistan: From our point of view, Pakistan’s government is a satanic government, Satan in its real sense.
Euronews: Gen. John Nicholson [Commander of Nato and US forces in Afghanistan] says Afghans have presented Nato the arms, confiscated from Taliban, apparently Russian-made arms!?
Amrullah Saleh: All the arms that Pakistan delivers to the Taliban are made in Russia. Right? I think it’s better we search for the root of the cancer, which is Pakistan.
Euronews: The Taliban, who kill civilians, are not on the list of US foreign terrorist groups? why?
Amrullah Saleh: There are a few reasons. First: Pakistan lobbies hard for the Taliban not to be on this list. Second, the Americans say that the Taliban are not a direct but an indirect threat to US national interests.
Euronews: But America somehow fights the Taliban, here, in your country?
Amrullah Saleh: Exactly. Third world blood - our blood which is shed every day - does not have the same value as first world blood.
Euronews: Have Kabul and Washington come down to this conclusion that containing the Taliban via military strategy has come to a dead end and there is no way out except negotiations and peace with this group?
Euronews: Have Kabul and Washington come to the conclusion that containing the Taliban via a military strategy has come to a dead end and there is no way out except negotiations and peace with this group?
Amrullah Saleh: It’s with a great regret that my response to this question is: Afghanistan is not the main factor in the USA’s war and peace calculations.
Euronews: Where is Afghanistan and how would you define it?
Amrullah Saleh: Afghanistan is a proud, zealous nation with a weak government
Euronews: Where do you see your country's salvation?
Amrullah Saleh: In national unity and forming a strong government.
Euronews: Mr Ambassador Mayaudon, 17 years after 9/11, and the US’s involvement in Afghanistan, billions of dollars and euros spent, - with your backing as the main US partner and ally. Yet Afghanistan is still far from being safe?
**Pierre Mayaudon, the EU Ambassador to Afghanistan: **We are in the country that faces the situation of conflict? And therefore the modalities of the implementation of development assistance and the results achieved are to a large extent conditioned by the situation of armed confrontation.
Euronews: Mr. Ambassador the question of the Taliban!. The Taliban is not on the EU list of terrorist groups? Why?
Pierre Mayaudon: On the 28 February, President Ashraf Ghani made an unprecedented offer of peace to the Taliban, offering them to chose the way of reconciliation and achieve through negotiations a peaceful settlement to this crisis. In Tashkent, few weeks later, Madame Mogerini, head of the EU foreign Service, told the afghan authorities that EU could take action - if a peaceful settlement is found - in order to remove those designated Taliban from UN sanction list. I think we will do that, we convey this message in a spirit of bringing our contribution to the settlement of Afghan crisis.
Euronews: We have witnessed bomb blasts, vehicle attacks by vehicles in France, Germany, Belgium. The so-called Islamic State/ISIL assumed the responsibility. Does EU have any plan to contain them in Afghanistan?
Pierre Mayaudon: For the European Union the way is development of Afghanistan, offering people of Afghanistan options, so that they never consider - as a meaningful possibility - to join the ranks of Islamic State, definitely.