KABUL - The European Union on Saturday said it would continue to advocate an inclusive process offering the best incentive for the Taliban to renounce violence and engage in constructive dialogue.
A statement attributed to Vygaudas Usackas, EU special envoy to Afghanistan, said: "We will continue to address fears expressed by women's representatives and northern constituencies that the outcome of the peace process risks undermining civil and political gains made in recent years."
The statement said members of the union would continue to reiterate to regional states that peace in Afghanistan was in the interests of the region. It called on Afghanistan's neighbors to play a constructive role.
"Ultimately, only a process led by the Afghan government, with the involvement of Afghan civil society including at the grassroots level in the provinces and with the support of regional states, can pave the way for a viable settlement. We will walk down this road with you, but you, the Afghans will need to take the lead," the statement said.
About the National Peace and Unity week, the EU said first and foremost, it was an occasion to remember Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, who stood out for his relentless efforts in achieving peace and in reaching out to the Afghan nation.
"Such attacks must strengthen the resolve of the EU and international community to continue to work with the Afghan people on the path of reconciliation," the statement said.
"Today, judging by the determination of Prof. Rabbani's son and successor, Chairman of the High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani, we can say that the resolve of the Afghan people to strive for peace is as strong as ever. A peaceful Afghanistan is indispensable for prosperity in Central and South Asia as a whole."
The EU said peace in Afghanistan had a special significance for it. The EU started off as a regional cooperation organization which helped to transform Europe from a war-torn and divided continent into an economic and political force, it recalled.
"European countries achieved this by putting political differences to one side and by concentrating on areas like trade and economic integration which formed the nucleus for European integration back in the 1950s."
The statement said if there was a message, the European Union would like to send to Afghanistan and its neighbors it was that the road might be hard and long and there might be setbacks, but, as the example of Europe showed there was value in perseverance.
"After all, what is the alternative? Is conflict to dominate this part of the world for another 30 years?"
It said as part of the EU's long-term commitment to Afghanistan, they were committed to actively supporting regional cooperation among Afghanistan's neighbors at political and project level.
"That is why we have welcomed the initiative by Afghanistan and Turkey to launch the "Heart of Asia" process which is the only one so far to include all of Afghanistan's neighbors and to include a clear political dimension. We believe it is important that this initiative has come from the region itself and that Turkey, as one of Afghanistan's Muslim brother countries, has played a crucial role in launching this process." (Pajhwok)