EU silence! How long it’s taken European leaders to speak out over Afghanistan crisis

Joe Biden's Afghanistan statement is ‘gobsmacking’ says TV host

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US President Joe Biden finally appeared in a televised address on Monday to explain the decision to withdraw US troops after the Afghan capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban on Sunday. Many European leaders have now addressed the evolving situation in Afghanistan, but some have faced criticism for their delay in approaching the issue. Other world leaders have also been criticised for how they have responded, including French President Emmanuel Macron.

In a televised address, Mr Macron said Europe must help those threatened by the Taliban takeover.

However, Mr Macron has been criticised for stating that France needs a robust plan to “anticipate and protect itself from a wave of migrants” from crisis-hit Afghanistan.

In recent days, the international airport in Kabul has been crowded with desperate Afghans hoping to flee the Taliban’s imminent new regime.

Shocking images have seen people clinging onto US evacuation planes, with some people falling to their deaths in their attempts to flee.

Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said Mr Macron’s comments were “shameful”, adding that his remarks reflected the “position of many other leaders”.

Ms Callamard tweeted: “President Macron shameful statement on the prevention of migration flows from #Afghanistan in the midst of a terrible human rights and humanitarian crisis is unfortunately reflecting the position of many other leaders. Including it appears Turkey.”

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel had also faced criticism for her lack of response to the Afghanistan crisis, before finally commenting on Monday.

The Economist’s Berlin bureau chief, Tom Nuttall, tweeted earlier on Monday: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ve heard a single word from Merkel, or her spokesman, on Afghanistan in the last few days.”

Mr Nuttall added: “Kind of weird not having a chancellor.”

On Monday, Ms Merkel said Germany and other western countries should provide aid to countries neighbouring Afghanistan to help them deal with an influx of Afghans fleeing the Taliban, or risk a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis.

In the UK, Boris Johnson is also facing significant pressure to announce plans for dealing with the crisis in Afghanistan.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said an urgent plan needs to be decided by the Government and other nations about how to help refugees in Afghanistan.

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He said: “Before we get to a number, the first question is getting our international partners round a table, including neighbouring countries to Afghanistan, to draw up an urgent plan for the safe and legal exit of refugees that inevitably will flow from this.

“I want to hear from the Prime Minister tomorrow, it is one of the questions we have for him, is what is that plan for refugees because we need to know and tomorrow’s the time for the Prime Minister to answer that question.”

Sir Keir also highlighted that Mr Johnson and Dominic Raab’s absence last week was poorly timed given the escalating situation in Afghanistan.

The Labour leader told broadcasters: “It was completely wrong to be on holiday.

“Speak to anybody who has any experience of Afghanistan and they will tell you it was obvious last week that we were heading to a very serious situation.

“For the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to be missing in action at this vital time is something that everybody thinks is wrong.

“I hope he will answer for that in the recall debate tomorrow as well.”

Mr Johnson has said he hopes to convene a meeting of world leaders at the “earliest opportunity” to co-ordinate the international response to the Taliban’s takeover of power.

Mr Johnson is pushing for a virtual G7 meeting to be arranged, raising the idea with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a call on Tuesday, as well as during talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday.

Mr Raab told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “We’ll need a contact group I believe, of not just like-minded Western countries, but countries with direct influence even if we find it challenging dealing with them.

“The permanent members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, will need to be, I think, part of the solution, so it’s not going to be easy.”

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