AAN Advisory Board member and former UN and EU personal/special representative to Afghanistan FRANCESC VENDRELL was interviewed by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
Spanish former diplomat Francesc Vendrell won Afghan friends and praise for his wise demeanor during his service as a special envoy for Afghanistan for the United Nations (2000-02) and later the European Union (2002-08).
He tells RFE/RL that Karzai bears some responsibility for what went wrong in Afghanistan but so does the international community.
“The most crucial mistake was to continue to consort with the warlords and commanders who had brought ruin to Afghanistan in the 1990s and to continue to favor them,” Vendrell says, “and also to do nothing to ensure that the government of Afghanistan — the government in Kabul — had a monopoly on the use of force. I think that has been the key flaw of the whole exercise.”
Vendrell suggests that the current crisis in Afghanistan should be resolved in a manner that provides legitimacy to whatever government emerges “in consonance with the wishes of the Afghan people.”
He even sees the current acrimony between Karzai and Western leaders dissipating if Karzai’s reelection grants him legitimacy.
But he says that also depends considerably on “if we, the international community, had the feeling that President Karzai had been legitimately elected, that the election had been credible, and that the president was pursuing the same objectives that Afghanistan has committed itself [to] at various international meetings and agreements.”
Vendrell does not consider himself pessimistic about Afghanistan. He says he believes it will be transformed into a stable peaceful country if its national institutions — particularly civilian institutions such as the judiciary and the civil service — are built up along with its police and army.
“We need to have means of fighting the egregious corruption, [and] we need, of course, to continue addressing the security problem,” Vendrell says. “But we need — and I think [U.S.] General [Stanley] McChrystal had made it quite clear — we need to ensure that our military presence in Afghanistan is seen as a source of security for the Afghan people and not as an occupying force.”
found on Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
This article was last updated on 9 Mar 2020