FPÖ-Delegation Visits Taliban in Afghanistan

PeopleOther ♦ Published: September 25, 2023; 21:40 ♦ (Vindobona)

Several members of the FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) traveled to Afghanistan and met, among others, Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. The meeting became known through a press release from the Afghan Foreign Ministry, which also published a photo of the delegation.

The Taliban achieved the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 2021. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons /Callum Darragh/ CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

In addition to Muttaqi and other suspected Taliban members, the picture also shows Andreas Mölzer, former FPÖ member of the EU Parliament, and ex-Nationalrat member Johannes Hübner. The Afghan television station Tolo News also confirmed the meeting.

Although the Austrian Foreign Ministry knew about the trip, they advised against it. They stressed that it was a private trip and that Mölzer was not an official representative of Austria. Austria's official position on the Taliban government is clear: it is not recognized. On the part of the FPÖ, Secretary General Christian Hafenecker stated that they learned about the trip from the media and that it was a private matter.

After the talks, the FPÖ delegation expressed that they found the situation in Afghanistan "much better" first-hand than what they knew from the media. Hübner also stressed that the current Afghan government, despite its efforts to provide security and end the long-running conflict, has not been recognized internationally. The delegation promised to bring a realistic picture of the situation in Afghanistan to Europe.

Afghans in Vienna

According to the Afghan Foreign Ministry, among other topics, the talks also dealt with facilitating consular services for Afghan citizens in Vienna. In addition, the FPÖ delegation is said to have assessed the situation in Afghanistan "much better" after the talks than they had learned from the media.

They had spoken with some Afghans about the current situation in Kabul, and according to the press release of the Afghan Foreign Ministry, it had become clear to them that the citizens in Afghanistan were satisfied with the current situation and felt safe.

Criticism from the other parties

In Austria, many are demanding immediate clarifications about the visit. The Greens' foreign policy spokeswoman Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic and NEOS MP Helmut Brandstätter demanded clarification, as did ÖVP Secretary-General Stocker. SPÖ federal secretary Sandra Breiteneder sharply criticized the meeting and accused the FPÖ of rolling out the red carpet for the extremist Taliban.

Sandra Breiteneder also pointed to the Taliban's disregard for women's rights and criticized the FPÖ for seemingly trivializing human rights violations.

Secretary General of the People's Party, Christian Stocker, expressed concerns about the motives behind the trip and called on FPÖ leader Herbert Kickl to clarify the circumstances of the visit.

While the Afghan Foreign Ministry portrayed the talks as constructive and emphasized that the FPÖ delegation felt the situation in the country was safe, the exact nature and intent of this visit remains controversial in Austrian politics.

Afghan MFA