Military to continue supporting Afghanistan: Turkish army chief
ANKARAThe Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) will continue to support Afghanistan as part of NATO’s mandate in the country, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar stated on Aug. 23.
“We are trying the best we can to provide all kinds of support and help for Afghanistan in the situation that the country is in,” Akar said during a reception organized to mark Afghan Independence Day at the Afghan Embassy in Ankara.
He added that Turkey and Afghanistan have a history with “joint values and a rooted past.”
During his speech at the event marking the 98th anniversary of Afghanistan’s independence from Britain, Akar said the TSK will continue its presence at the Hamid Karzai International Airport and provide trainers to the country.
Saying the army will continue to work for Afghan people’s peace and happiness, he noted that some Turkish people had even named their children “Afghan” due to the love they feel for Afghans.
Akar’s remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump on Aug. 21 announced a new strategy for Afghanistan, outlining that Washington would not commit to any timetable to end its military presence in the country, where it has been bogged down for the better part of two decades.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Trump’s policy, saying NATO allies and partners have already committed to increasing the alliance’s presence in Afghanistan.
Also speaking at the reception on Aug. 23, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Turkey gave great importance to the day and stressed that Afghanistan is “the most important country” of the region it’s in.
“Many of our Muslim brothers in Afghanistan and the Middle East have been in clashes since the second half of the 21st century. We know the reason behind it. Afghanistan is the most important country in the region it’s in. Those who want to rule the world have of course targeted our brotherly Afghanistan,” Soylu said, adding that Turkey has always been on the side of Afghanistan.
During his speech, the minister noted that since 1992, a total of 2,837 Afghan students have benefited from scholarships provided by Turkey. He said he “feels proud” of those who receive their education in Turkey before joining the workforce in their homeland.
Even though official relations between the countries started on March 1, 1921, the friendship between Afghanistan and Turkey goes back a long way, Soylu added, noting his pride at being the co-chair of the Turkey-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (KEK).
“Since 2004, Turkey has been conducting a corporate development program of $1 million in more than 850 projects in Afghanistan,” he said.
Some 2,996 Afghan police and 4,300 military members have received training in Turkey during his term at the Interior Ministry, Soylu also stated.
In addition, Afghanistan Ambassador to Ankara Amanullah Jayhoon, who hosted the reception, heralded the fraternity between the two countries.
“Long live Turkish-Afghan brotherhood,” Jayhoon said.