Liimets: Estonia will only conditionally recognize the Taliban government
If Estonia should recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan it will only do so with conditions attached, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) has said.
Speaking on ETV's foreign affairs program"Välisilm" which was broadcast on Monday, Liimets said Estonia has been in contact with various parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban which is putting together a government in the capital, Kabul.
She said the international community's goal, which includes Estonia, is that Afghanistan should be led by a government in the future which includes several parties.
"This hope is still there and we are working for it," Liimets said.
"If we are to recognize the new Afghan government, which is a Taliban-led government, our recognition will certainly be conditional. It is very important to us that the parties in this new government end their relations with terrorist organizations, respect human rights in the country, including the rights of minorities, guarantee women's participation in society, girls' access to school and, of course, prevent any violence in the country. And it would help ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those in Afghanistan who need it," she said.
Presenter Tarmo Maiberg pointed out the Taliban have already said women will not be able to take high leadership positions and that women will only be able to do what Sharia Law allows.
"This is a place where the Taliban must definitely negotiate with the international community. The Taliban, for its part, has also expressed their wishes to the international community. It is a place where we can negotiate with them and say what the conditions for this future cooperation look like," Liimets said.
The minister said the Taliban has also sent some positive messages such as inviting both men and women to return to work. It have also promised people they will not have to fear for their lives if they stay in Afghanistan, she said.
Asked if she really believed such promises, Liimets said a common ground needs to be found to move forward with negotiations.
Liimets said the U.S.'s sudden withdrawal from Afghanistan does not mean U.S. support for Estonia has changed.
Belarusian regime continues to imprison critics
Speaking about Belarus, Liimets said it was surprising when irregular migrants from Africa and the Middle East started arriving at the Lithuanian border but taking into account relations with Belarus as a whole, it was less surprising.
"The situation in Belarus has been a matter of concern for Western countries since August last year. We have raised this twice in the UN Security Council," Liimets said.
"We see that the Belarussian regime today is trying to stay in power at all costs, that there is a fear of falling is certainly illustrated by the radical steps that are being taken. For example, the imprisonment of additional political prisoners," Liimets said.
The minister said the number of political prisoners in Belarus has increased from 400 to 600 and more in the space of three months. "This clearly shows the current regime is trying to clear the way of everyone who is trying to speak up," Liimets said.
Cooperation agreement with United Russia has expired
After becoming a member of the Center Party, Liimets said she revisited the cooperation agreement between the party and the Russian ruling party United Russia which has caused a lot of controversy in Estonia.
Asked about the Center Party's foreign policy, the minister said it supports the interests of Estonia's independence and security.
"The agreement with United Russia is a protocol with United Russia and no activities have taken place around this protocol for over 10 years. So, in this regard, to deal with it in any way at the moment, I do not see it as very topical or necessary," she said.
"International agreements and protocols are such that they often do not require any separate termination. If there are no activities around them, they seem to have ended," Liimets added.
Presenter Tarmo Maiberg asked Liimets how can Estonia criticize Russia for its treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, for example, while having a frozen cooperation agreement?
"I do not see a contradiction here," Liimets replied.
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Editor: Helen Wright