Turkey ready for any kind of cooperation with Afghanistan: Erdoğan
Turkey is ready for any kind of cooperation for the comfort of the Afghan people, well-being of its Turkish kin and protection of its interests in Afghanistan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, stressing the continued military presence of the Turkish troops at Kabul airport will be to the benefit of the new Afghan administration.
“With the Taliban taking control of the country, a new picture has emerged before us. We make our plans according to these new realities emerging in the field and continue our negotiations accordingly,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a televised interview late Aug. 18.
Erdoğan informed that the relevant Turkish institutions were already in contact with the Taliban for a while and recalled that he had stated that he can invite Taliban leaders to talk about the future of the country.
“We maintain this attitude today. We are ready for all kinds of cooperation for the peace of the Afghan people, the well-being of our Turkish kin living in this country, and the protection of our country’s interests,” he stated.
Turkey and Afghanistan have a unique historical and cultural bond and standing by this country in its good and bad day, regardless of who is in power, it is a requirement of the brotherly relationship between the two nations, Erdoğan said.
“We welcome moderate and restrained statements by Taliban leaders,” the president said, recalling that Taliban’s approach towards Turkey has never been sharp. “[The Taliban] are more careful and sensitive towards us in regards to its foreign policy. I hope this sensitivity will go on in the same way afterwards,” he maintained.
Turkey wants to stay at Kabul airport
Although Turkey has served as part of a NATO mission in Afghanistan, it never deployed combat troops, Erdoğan recalled, underlining that its main objective was to contribute to the economic and social development of the central Asian country.
“Thus, we never saw and used our soldiers there as a foreign power. After the withdrawal of the U.S., our aim was to contribute to the security of this country by ensuring the safety of the airport. This intention of ours still remains,” he stressed.
The continued military presence of Turkey in Afghanistan will smooth the way for the new administration in the international arena, the president said. “The thing is to reach a consensus with Afghan officials. We can speak over different options. For example, we can resolve this issue through a bilateral agreement just like we did in Libya. This can be either Taliban or the current administration. We have friendship with all these people.”
Turkey and Libya reached an agreement in late 2019 for the deployment of the Turkish troops to the latter in a bid to protect Tripoli from the attacks of rival groups led by General Khalifa Haftar.
Erdoğan also mentioned his diplomatic contacts on Afghanistan. He said he will discuss the latest developments in this country with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Turkey to act with international community: FM
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, while speaking to the reporters late Aug 18, said Turkey would act together with the international community on the recognition of the Taliban.
“We need to see whether a truly inclusive government will be formed,” the minister stressed, reiterating that Ankara would coordinate and work together with other countries, including the United States, Russia and China.
“The messages we will give and the steps we will take will be coordinated. There will be a NATO foreign ministers meeting on Friday. We need to coordinate and work together with the international community. It wouldn’t be right to make a decision right now,” he stated.
On a question, Çavuşoğlu informed that Turkey had invited Molla Birader, one of the Taliban leaders, to Ankara before the Taliban’s takeover of the control of the country over the past weekend.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, for his part, stressed that Turkey was making efforts to keep the international airport open safely and continue the evacuations from the war-torn country. A total of 64 flights were made in the past two days, Çavuşoğlu informed, repeating that all the security measures were taken for the Turkish troops in Kabul airport.
“In case of any different development or if we sense deterioration, we will take additional measures accordingly. We have the necessary plans. We will implement them if need be,” the minister added.