Czech diplomacy to help in Afghan conflict

22-11-2001

Mr. Stapleton urged Mr. Kavan to involve the Czech Republic as much as possible in the discussions over the post-Taliban regime in Kabul. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Ale¹ Pospisil, Mr. Kavan greeted the ambassador's request positively..

"The Ambassador asked the Czech Republic to use its diplomatic contacts with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance and to appeal to the Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani to establish a new government from among representatives of all the ethnic groups. The Czech Foreign Minister promised to help and expressed his support for the idea of a broad-based coalition government in Afghanistan."

Mr. Kavan said he did not assume the Czech Republic was the only country the United States asked for help. In his opinion, the U.S. government have appealed to a number of countries that have good diplomatic contacts with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. In Kavan´s words, the greater the pressure exerted upon them, the greater chance that the Northern Alliance leadership would take this request seriously.

Kavan sees the U.S. request for help as a confirmation of the success of Czech foreign policy. He dismissed speculation that the Czech Republic has been asked only because of the military activities of former Eastern Bloc countries in the region during the 1980s. In those days, Czechoslovak military and security advisors were active in Afghanistan.

There are about 20 different ethnic groups living in Afghanistan. One of the largest are the Pashtuns. Making up around half of the population, the Taliban regime draws much of its support from the group. The representation of different ethnic groups in any future government in Afghanistan is a very sensitive issue, as the surrounding countries have very different perceptions about which should be included. The United Nations is of the opinion that the future government should also include Pashtun representatives.

22-11-2001