Correspondent in Berlin
Less than a week ago the last German diplomat took off on a military flight from Kabul airport, in one of the riskier operations of the BundesWehr on foreign soil, and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is already thinking of reopening the Embassy. About to finish a tour of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, Maas has declared that he wants to “soon” re-establish a diplomatic mission in the capital, under certain conditions. “If it were politically possible and if the security situation allows it, Germany should once again have its own embassy in Kabul,” he declared in Qatar. Ministry sources confirm that at this time they are in close coordination, especially with European partners, on this issue. Maas also stressed that diplomatic representation would not mean recognition of a Taliban government. “At the moment it is not about the question of recognition under international law, but about solving very practical problems,” he said.
Since Sunday, Maas has been visiting Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Qatar is the last stop from where you travel back to Germany and where Ambassador Markus Potzel is currently negotiating with the Taliban in Doha on the departure of refugees from Afghanistan. The Taliban have their political office there, which acts as a kind of Foreign Ministry. The German government has secured a commitment from the Taliban, who have vowed to cooperate in their efforts to remove more than 40,000 Afghans seeking protection. Minister Maas has not spoken directly to the Taliban, but negotiator Potzel has been appointed directly by him. “There is a great need for a diplomatic presence because we also have many problems in Afghanistan,” he justified, expressly mentioning the current efforts to remove former Afghan employees of the German Army and the federal government from the country. “We will have to deal with this issue for a long time. That is why we need these contacts ”, he explained. However, Maas acknowledges that the reopening of the Embassy will ultimately depend on the specific policies of the Taliban and the security situation.
Only few countries like Russia, China and Turkey keep open currently its embassies in Kabul. Chancellor Angela Merkel also said Tuesday that she has held talks with France, Britain, the Netherlands and Italy about a possible diplomatic presence in Kabul in order to “establish ongoing talks with the Taliban.” “It’s just about having diplomats who can talk to the Taliban,” he has rejected any recognition of legitimacy. Merkel has advanced that the Taliban will transfer their presence from Doha to Kabul in the coming days and that they hope to present a government shortly. The federal government requires the formation of an inclusive government. “Anyone who expects the international community to help must also see that the international community also demands certain prerequisites for this,” said Minister Maas, also assuming that “negotiations with the radical Islamic Taliban are inevitable.” In a meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Maas stated that “there is no way to avoid talks with the Taliban. You cannot afford instability in Afghanistan. ‘
The German Foreign Minister has also thanked Qatar for its help with the evacuations from Afghanistan. “Qatar has assumed a leadership role in evacuations in an extremely difficult situation,” he praised, recalling that the Desert State also played an important role in organizing the Kabul airport, and subscribing to the statements of the Qatari Foreign Minister , which has warned Europe against isolating Afghanistan. Isolation is not an answer. But recognition is not a priority for us, ”said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Than.
Qatar and the radical Islamic Taliban have been in contact for years. In 2013, Qatar allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha, also at the request of the United States, so that they could negotiate with representatives of the terrorist militia there. Doha now serves as a base of operations for German diplomats who continue to work on the evacuation of Afghan personnel. After the final withdrawal of the last US troops from Afghanistan, Chancellor Merkel stressed again that evacuations from the country had not yet been completed. “Germany still has a large number of local staff that we want to get out of Afghanistan.” Merkel calculated the number of people who have been bureaucratically admitted to Germany but have not yet left Afghanistan exceeds 40,000. “First you have to see how many of them actually want to leave the country, that will also depend on the circumstances that the Taliban believe in Afghanistan.” “No one leaves their country of origin lightly,” insists Merkel, but we must give as many refugees as possible the opportunity to receive humanitarian care in nearby territories. Therefore, we will get involved in the region.