The statement from the EU leader came during a press conference with European Council President Charles Michel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the Torrejón military airbase in Madrid, according to The New York Times.
A welcome center has been established in the Spanish city to take in European citizens and Afghan allies evacuated from the country following the Taliban’s solidification of power.
In response to a reporter’s question on whether EU leaders are in contact with the Taliban, von der Leyen stated it was “important to differentiate between” talks to ensure evacuees’ safe release, and official recognition of the group as the legitimate leaders of Afghanistan.
“We do have operational contacts with the Taliban in this moment of crisis, because we need to discuss in these difficult times how we can facilitate it for people in Kabul to come to the airport,” she explained.
“But this is completely distinct and separated from political talks,” she continued, adding, “There are no political talks with the Taliban and there is no recognition of the Taliban.”
Von der Leyen went on to state that continued European aid to Afghanistan will depend largely on the type of regime the Taliban choose to install, especially in terms of decisions they make for the rights of women and girls.
The commission president commented on the Taliban’s statement this week encouraging women to join the government. The group has sought to portray itself as more moderate than the regime that held power in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
“We hear of discussions to form a government that is inclusive,” von der Leyen said, adding, “We hear Taliban statements that stress that women will have their rightful place in society, and be able to study and work, within the framework of Islam – whatever that means.”
“But we also hear more and more reports of people being hunted down for their past work or their opinions,” she stated, noting, “And we hear of women being turned away when they show up at their usual workplace.”
“Not a single euro of development aid can go to a regime that denies women and girls their full freedoms and rights to education and careers,” she continued, adding, “We may well hear the Taliban's words, but we will measure them above all by their deeds and their actions.”
The comments echo remarks from President Joe Biden in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos this week, saying that while he doesn’t believe the Taliban have changed, he believes they are going though “sort of an existential crisis about [whether] they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government".
“I'm not sure they do,” Biden noted at the time.