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“Afghanistan will be the first and biggest test for Baroness Ashton in her new role in charge of developing a coherent EU foreign policy,” said Pino Arlacchi (IdV, Italy), EP rapporteur on Afghanistan and Vice-President of the delegation. “The situation on the ground is dramatic and the need for a political strategy, in parallel to the military one, is essential for success.”
“The nomination of the new EU Special Representative to Afghanistan, to succeed the current Italian incumbent, is a particularly sensitive appointment in so far as the individual will need a thorough understanding of the multiple layers of Afghan society and the insurgency as well as a proven capacity for sound judgement that will enable the EU to determine its own strategy.”
Media reports appear to suggest that Ms. Ashton is favouring the Lithuanian candidate, Mr. Vygaudas Ušackas, the former minister of foreign affairs of Lithuania.
“I am not convinced that Mr Ušackas possesses the requisite knowledge or profile to take on this task,” said Arlacchi. “Furthermore, his reputation and independence could be compromised by media reports that he has been complicit in withholding the truth about CIA rendition activities in Lithuania. At the very least we need clarity and openness with respect to his role in this affair if he is to have any credibility on the ground in Afghanistan.”
“Whoever is appointed must be prepared to be fully accountable to Parliament in reporting on progress and the development of the EU’s strategy for a resolution to the situation. As Parliament’s rapporteur on Afghanistan I will be expecting a very open and frank discussion with the Special Representative from their first day on the job.”
Under the newly negotiated Framework Agreement between Parliament and Commission, Parliament did not secure the right to scrutinise all appointments by the High Representative, but did obtain a commitment that they should all be appointed according to a fully transparent procedure.