>


European Union
President Louis Michel
Statement on Military Actions in Afghanistan
Brussels, Belgium
October 7, 2001

The Presidency of the European Union this afternoon has been informed through our High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana of the imminence of the operation. In parallel, all relevant information has been communicated by Secretary of State Colin Powell and by his British colleague Jack Straw.

Now that allied countries have launched military operations in Afghanistan, the Presidency of the European Union wishes, in accordance with the conclusions of the extraordinary European Council of 21 September, to reaffirm its entire solidarity with the United States, as well as with the United Kingdom and all the other countries engaged in these operations. It recalls that the European Union, on the basis of the Security Council Resolution 1368, had considered a riposte by the United States as legitimate.

The Presidency has been informed that these operations are targeted and essentially directed against military communications centres, air defence installations and terrorist training camps and that innocent victims will be avoided.

At the NATO Council of 4 October, the United States presented evidence of the involvement of the Al Qaida network and of Ben Laden in the attacks of 11 September.

Furthermore, the Presidency recalls that since these attacks the American authorities have repeatedly appealed to the Taliban in order to hand Osama Ben Laden over to the American judiciary. The European Union deplores that these appeals remained unanswered.

The Presidency recalls that these military operations are not directed against Islam, or against the Arab and Muslim world but, on the contrary, are part of a larger campaign against international terrorism which has mobilised the international community since 11 September.

The Presidency stresses the importance and the urgency of humanitarian aid for the Afghan people and for Afghan refugees living abroad. It notes with satisfaction that the operations aimed at dropping foodstuffs and medicines are underway. It recalls that the European union considers humanitarian aid as a priority.

END