Today, Friday 20 August, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Sophie Wilmès attended NATO’s extraordinary Foreign Affairs ministerial meeting by video conference, which was organised following the situation in Afghanistan.

This meeting gave the Deputy Prime Minister the opportunity to discuss access for our flights to Kabul Airport and the operation of the airport itself with the members of the Alliance. Through its Deputy Prime Minister, Belgium expressed its deep concern over the problems people are having with reaching the airport. Belgium calls upon all parties involved to ensure and accelerate access to the airport. “The safe departure of those who wish to depart must be respected and made easier,” emphasises Deputy Prime Minister Wilmès.

As regards the control and security of Kabul Airport, Belgium repeated its plea through its Deputy Prime Minister that our American partners safeguard control of the airport until the last NATO allies have removed their people from it. ”In together, out together. This applies in military terms, as well as in terms of consular assistance,” says Sophie Wilmès. The co-ordination of the flight schedules and the landing slots, and the fact that those slots are allocated in full transparency, is of great importance to this country.  “In order to make smooth and safe evacuations possible, good collaboration, co-ordination and information exchange between the allies will be important,” says Sophie Wilmès.

For Belgium, there is a need for a collective political approach vis-à-vis Afghanistan. A political solution that is inclusive and negotiated can only be of benefit in the medium term. “This country will use its influence for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. The aim will continue to be stability, safety for all Afghans and respect for human rights, in particular for women and girls,” says Sophie Wilmès.

Finally, Belgium calls upon the alliance to consider the NATO involvement in Afghanistan and to take the necessary lessons from it.