Shaheen, Tillis Host Virtual Meeting with NATO Ambassadors on Afghanistan Withdrawal

September 07, 2021

 

9.7.21 NATO virtual meeting

 

**Shaheen and Tillis Serve as Co-Chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they Re-Established in 2018**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, and U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) hosted a virtual meeting today with 26 Ambassadors and heads of mission from NATO member countries on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and to discuss next steps to continue the safe evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies, address the refugee crisis and continue coordination to protect the rights of women and girls. Shaheen and Tillis serve as co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-established in 2018. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Angus King (I-ME) also participated in the meeting.

“Our transatlantic alliance has helped maintain our world order for more than seventy years, including the last twenty of which U.S. and NATO forces fought together side-by-side in Afghanistan. Today, Senator Tillis and I hosted a virtual meeting with ambassadors and heads of mission from NATO member countries to reaffirm our deep appreciation for our allies who stepped up to support evacuation efforts, and to address next steps in Afghanistan that will require our continued partnership,” said Shaheen. “Senator Tillis has been a steadfast partner in the Senate as my fellow co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group and I appreciate his efforts to continue that work by helping to lead our meeting this afternoon. Our NATO allies rallied to our side in the aftermath of September 11th and U.S. withdrawal was made possible thanks to close coordination with the transatlantic alliance. This coordination must endure to protect Afghan women and girls, and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorism.”

“Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, many of our NATO allies sent troops to Afghanistan to fight with us against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and some still had a presence as of last month. Our allies are justifiably concerned with the withdrawal process from Afghanistan, the humanitarian crisis it created, and concerned with the likelihood it will once again become a sanctuary for terrorists,” said Tillis. “NATO has been the most successful alliance in modern history, ensuring the safety and security of the United States and our allies against evolving threats. I’m grateful for Senator Shaheen’s partnership in restarting the bipartisan Senate NATO Observer Group, and we will continue to work closely with our NATO allies in addressing the humanitarian and security crisis in Afghanistan.”

Participants on the call included:

 

  • Ambassador Floreta Faber – Albania
  • Deputy Chief of Mission Jan De Pauw – Belgium
  • Ambassador Tihomir Stoytchev – Bulgaria
  • Ambassador Kirsten Hillman – Canada
  • Ambassador Pjer Šimunovi? – Croatia
  • Ambassador Lone Dencker Wisborg – Denmark
  • Ambassador Kristjan Prikk – Estonia
  • Deputy Chief of Mission Aurelie Bonal – France
  • Ambassador Emily Margarethe Haber – Germany
  • Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou – Greece
  • Ambassador Szabolcs Takács – Hungary
  • Ambassador Bergdís Ellertsdóttir – Iceland
  • Ambassador Mariangela Zappia – Italy
  • Ambassador M?ris Selga – Latvia
  • Ambassador Audra Plepyt? – Lithuania
  • Ambassador Nicole Bintner-Bakshian – Luxembourg
  • Head of Mission Marija Stjepcevic – Montenegro
  • Ambassador André Haspels – Netherlands
  • Charge de'Affairs Vilma Petkovska – North Macedonia
  • Deputy Chief of Mission Adam Krzywos?dzk – Poland
  • Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital – Portugal
  • Ambassador Andrei Muraru – Romania
  • Ambassador Radovan Javor?ík – Slovakia
  • Ambassador Tone Kajzer – Slovenia
  • Ambassador Hasan Murat Mercan – Turkey
  • Deputy Head of Mission Michael Tatham – United Kingdom

Shaheen long expressed deep concerns about the United States’ unconditioned withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly out of concern for the immediate danger facing Afghan women and other groups vulnerable to the Taliban’s violence and oppression. Senator Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Earlier this year, Senator Shaheen met virtually with women members of Afghanistan’s Parliament to discuss the rights and futures of women and girls in Afghanistan. Shaheen also raised her concerns about the safety of women and girls with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing. During a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan in 2019, Shaheen met with a group of Afghan women who described how dramatically their lives had improved since the Taliban government was toppled nearly two decades ago. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Actwhich was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations. Last week, Shaheen participated in a live virtual discussion hosted by The Washington Post to discuss the future of Afghan women and girls.

Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who’ve risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad by strengthening the Afghan SIV program. She continues to lead bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. The President signed into law key provisions from the Afghan Allies Protection Act, a bill led by Shaheen and Senator Ernst, as part of spending legislation. Their legislation helps protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.