Sant dubs Afghanistan ‘a second Vietnam’ but warns against calls for EU defence union

Difficult rapprochement for West, says Sant: ‘Vietnamese communists were always inspired by emancipation… Afghan leadership locked into conservatism and religious dogmatism’

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

Labour MEP Alfred Sant voted in favour of a resolution on the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, while voicing his objections at a call for a European Defence Union and the use of qualified majority voting, instead of unanimity, in EU foreign affairs decisions.

The former prime minister and head of the Labour delegation deplored the violent takeover of Afghanistan, and voted in favour of a European Parliament resolution calling for more humanitarian aid and a coordinated response to protect those most vulnerable.

The resolution on the Situation in Afghanistan condemned the ongoing persecutions, particularly, on child soldiers, women and girls. The resolution was adopted by 536 votes in favour, 96 against and 50 abstentions.

While agreeing with the general thrust, Sant strongly disagreed with parts of the resolution which requested a European Defence Union. He objected most of all to the proposed withdrawal of “unanimity in favour of qualified majority voting in the field of EU foreign affairs policy.”

Sant described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as equivalent to “a second Vietnam” because of the similarity in the build-up of events and outcomes at the end of the two wars in which the US was involved.

He referred to the current belief among some policy-makers that the way forward with Afghanistan should be similar to the “Western rapprochement to Vietnam.” This would include an organized strategy for refugees interested in leaving Afghanistan, the provision of financial assistance with “imposed conditionality” and a “relationship based on diplomacy and trade.”

“At this point, the success of such approach will much depend on the Taliban willingness to engage. Western parties should also be aware however that while Vietnamese communists were always inspired by progress, emancipation, and autonomy of their people, the current Afghan leadership seems locked into conservatism and religious dogmatism."

“It is therefore correct that this EP Resolution condemns the ongoing persecutions in Afghanistan, the repression of women and minorities in the country. It is also right to request a continental approach to the refugee crisis arising from the US departure from the country.

“However, I totally disagree with the tactic adopted in the Resolution to use this situation as another opportunity to push for a European Defence Union, or even worse, to remove unanimity in favour of qualified majority voting in the field of EU foreign affairs policy.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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