President Meets with Afghan Counterpart

By 27 August 2018

ZAGREB, August 27, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Sunday held talks in Kabul with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and the Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah, who informed her of the current political and security situation in the country, official sources have reported.

Grabar-Kitarović, who is on a visit to Afghanistan of several days, said that Afghanistan had experienced economic and social progress. The security situation is not good and a very interesting period is about to begin, not only for the future of Afghanistan but also for the future of NATO's Resolute Support mission in the country, she said.

"Parliamentary elections are to be held, followed by presidential elections, and there will be positioning, not only on the political scene but also on the military-security scene," the Croatian president said after the meeting.

Also discussed at the meeting were Afghanistan's cooperation with international forces, with Grabar-Kitarović saying that Croatia had been present in Afghanistan for 15 years, initially as part of NATO's ISAF combat mission and now in the non-combat Resolute Support mission, launched in January 2015.

She added that foreign forces would leave Afghanistan when an adequate level of security and stability was established and when the country was capable of controlling security and stability on its own.

Grabar-Kitarović said after talks with her Afghan counterpart that the process of negotiation and reconciliation with the Taliban must be launched but that there were certain red lines that could not be crossed and that Croatia could serve as an example with regard to reconciliation.

"The process of reconciliation must start, otherwise the conflict will never end. I don't believe that it is possible to defeat militarily any side, whether it be the Taliban or someone else, because there will always be an element of rebellion," Grabar-Kitarović told reporters after talks with Ghani.

She noted that nonetheless there was always a red line that must not be crossed, and in Afghanistan's case, it was gender equality and women's rights. "The whole process will last for years... but what is important is the country's stability and its protection against further infiltration by groups such as IS or other extremist organisations, as well as the continuation of support to the Afghan government in its struggle for democracy, and to civil society, women's associations and all others who fight for equal rights for all," she said.

Grabar-Kitarović said that her Afghan counterpart "said Croatia's process of reconciliation set an example on the global scale and asked for assistance."

"I told him that we are willing to help, including people who participated in the process of reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia's legal order. The situation is not quite the same, but some of the principles of reconciliation are, such as the need to reach a compromise and political agreement," she said.

The Croatian president said that Ghani's general idea was that the Taliban movement should transform from a military movement to a political one, noting that that was a good way to make progress.

Speaking of NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, in which Croatia is participating, and the previous ISAF mission, Grabar-Kitarović said that one of their main achievements was the fact that women's rights today were at a much higher level than they used to be.