“It’s mathematically impossible” for the United States and its allies to evacuate tens of thousands of Afghan officials and families by Aug. 31, warned EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday.
Speaking to Spain’s AFP in a telephone interview, Borrell added that we “complain” to the Americans that their security at Kabul airport was too tight and made it difficult for Afghans working for Europeans to enter.
Aug. 31 is the deadline the United States has announced for the full withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, but President Joe Biden has indicated that it could be extended if the airlifts remain viable.
The US military is currently in control of Kabul airport and operates its air traffic control operations.
“As far as I know, Americans haven’t said they’ll stay longer than Aug. 31, but they can change their minds,” Borrell said.
“They will evacuate 60,000 people by the end of this month. It’s mathematically impossible,” he said.
Borrell told AFP that for Europe’s evacuation efforts “the problem is access to the airport – the US controls and security measures are very strong” and prevented the passage of Afghan personnel.
He said Brussels had filed a complaint with the United States asking for “more flexibility”.
The EU’s top foreign policy official had been in Madrid, accompanied by European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on a visit to a Spanish air base that received incoming flights with European citizens and Afghan officials – and several US citizens.
He said that only 150 of the 400 Afghans employed in the EU had been evacuated so far. “I am very aware that this is very inappropriate,” he said.
“The planes are leaving while people are still on the runway,” he said.
Despite his excitement, Borrell denied there were tensions between the EU and the US over the ongoing evacuations.
But he said questions should be asked about “why things happen like this” and called for a future EU summit, which was convened to address the situation Europe finds itself in and what the next steps should be regarding Afghanistan.
Borrell, who this week told the European Parliament that the chaotic evacuation scenes were a “disaster” for the West, emphasized that the EU has been working for some time on a strategy document that will propose a 50,000-member rapid reaction force to confront the future crises.
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