JOHN HUMPHRYS: Francesc Vendrell, you know
Pakistan well, you know Afghanistan well, you were there just few weeks
ago. It is going to be almost impossible, isn't it, to establish the sort
of broad based democratic government that we would recognise as a sensible
FRANCESC VENDRELL: I think it's going to take time.
I don't think it's going to be impossible, particularly if the international
community does not lose patience with Afghanistan. If the international
community as Tony Blair has said, is willing to stay in Afghanistan for
the long haul and by staying in Afghanistan I mean worrying and caring
for Afghanistan, I think it is possible to find a solution.
HUMPHRYS: But in order to do that,
we've heard about this grand assembly, called the Loya Jirga, which would
be called given that we can restore some sort of order there. You would
have to have, as part of that Loya Jirga, as part of that grand assembly,
the Taliban wouldn't you, or the Pashtun people.
VENDRELL: Well, yes. The Pashtun
people yes - the Taliban, not necessarily. One must make sure that one
does not confuse the Taliban with the Pashtuns. In the last few months,
there have been many signals that the Pashtun tribal elders for example,
who are getting extremely anxious about the Taliban, partly because of
the increasing role of Arabs within the Taliban structure.
HUMPHRYS: Nonetheless, the Taliban
do have support, albeit limited support, we are led to believe, but they
do have some support from many of the Pashtun people?
VENDRELL: They have some support
but I think a lot of the Pashtuns would also accept alternative leaders
if they were to arise.
HUMPHRYS: George Bush and Tony
Blair want the United Nations to take responsibility, Mr Bush has used
the expression 'for nation building in Afghanistan'. Now, does that mean,
as you understand it, does that mean, a United Nations protectorate?
VENDRELL: Certainly not a protectorate.
I don't think the Afghans would accept that. I think any role that we
play in Afghanistan must have the full consent of the Afghans. It won't
be so difficult at this moment, for the past two years I've had Afghans
coming to me all the time, saying why doesn't the UN play a much bigger
role in Afghanistan, why do we have to put up with this insufferable situation.
The situation of both the Taliban and also the internal conflict.
HUMPHRYS: But you say not a protectorate?
VENDRELL: Not a protectorate, I
think you need a broad based Afghan government, temporary, prior to some
elections perhaps at the end of the road, with some kind of UN verification
of UN supervision to ensure that agreements arrived at amongst
the Afghans and agreements arrived at by the neighbouring countries are
HUMPHRYS: But while that process
was going on, the Taliban, we're assuming of course that they are defeated
and then they take to the hills, or wherever it is they are going to do,
they won't all be rounded up I dare say. While that's going on, they are
going to be making very serious trouble aren't they?
VENDRELL: Well, a lot is going
to depend on how the military campaign works in the next few weeks and
a lot is going to depend on whether Taliban forces, some Taliban forces
cross over to the opposition and whether Pashtun elders and commanders
take the lead also in a term of insurrection against the Taliban.
HUMPHRYS: But it's unrealistic
isn't it to assume that the Taliban as we now recognise them, people who
are violently opposed to what's going on, the protectors of Osama Bin Laden
presumably, it's unrealistic to assume that they will disappear from the
VENDRELL: It's going to be hard.
It's going to be hard and lengthy.
HUMPHRYS: And they are well armed,
or at least relatively well armed?
VENDRELL: They are relatively well
armed, they are not an incredibly powerful force. The danger of course
is the guerrilla, if it became a guerrilla army. I think many of the Taliban
forces would probably not wish to stay with the Taliban but you might have
a hardcore plus the foreigners who are there.
HUMPHRYS: And somebody would have
to deal with them, so who would make the peace, I was going to use the
expression, keep the peace but it might be a question of making the peace
if it is not to be the United Nations?
VENDRELL: I think the United Nations
can assist, cajole, advise the Afghans as to how to get together into some
kind of provisional government. I think this provisional government would
have to ask them, the UN, or the international community, for an international
security force, but it should be something that the Afghans should ask,
it should not be something that is imposed on them.
HUMPHRYS: Right, so in other words,
if they do not come to us, or come to the United Nations and say we need
your military help, we could not even think of sending in a force of any
VENDRELL: I think it would be very
dangerous to do that, if a force were to enter without being at the request
of some quasi legal government in Afghanistan. The Afghans must see what
the allies are trying to do now as a chance for their liberation, they
must not see this as an occupation. If it's an occupation, there is all
the dangers that previous attempts at occupying Afghanistan have dealt
HUMPHRYS: And the trouble is, when
you say the Afghans, this is not exactly an homogenous group of people
with whom one can deal.
VENDRELL: Well, when I say the
Afghans, if the former King, plus the Northern Alliance, plus Pashtun commanders,
were to come together and made a joint request, that I think would have
a great deal of support within Afghanistan.
HUMPHRYS: But even the Northern
Alliance is divided within itself isn't it?
VENDRELL: It is potentially divided,
at the moment they are of course working together...
HUMPHRYS: ..but they have a common
enemy at the moment, don't they, that's the point. Once that common enemy
is dealt with, then you may well see a very different situation there.
VENDRELL: I think we must lay down
a series of principles that should govern the contact of any Afghan groups
that wish to have some kind of legitimacy, and these principles will have
be carefully verified by the UN. Now I'm talking of principles such as
pluralism, responsibility to the Afghan people, good relations with neighbours,
perhaps acceptance of existing borders.
HUMPHRYS: But you're quite clear
that we cannot impose, militarily impose, that kind of arrangement on them?
VENDRELL: I don't think it should
be imposed at all. I think it would be the wrong approach and I don't
think this is necessarily what the United Kingdom or the US are trying
to do now.
HUMPHRYS: And the danger is clearly
that if they don't say to us - Look, come and help us - they'd take over,
whoever they may be, the sort of alliance that you have described. They
then fall out amongst themselves, as has always happened in the past, we
may be back to square one in a sense.
VENDRELL: Well, this is where I
think the Security Council ought to come in, and ensure that these agreements
do not fall apart by having a very tight international verification and
HUMPHRYS: Francesc Vendrell, thank
you very much for joining us today.
VENDRELL: Thank you.