Turkey yet to decide on Taliban request to run Kabul airport
Senior representatives from the Turkish Embassy in Kabul and Taliban held a lengthy meeting to establish “healthy” relations and exchange mutual expectations, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, informing that Turkey has not yet decided on the Taliban’s request asking for help for technical support to run the international airport in Afghanistan’s capital.
“The Taliban have made a request regarding the operation of Kabul airport. They say, ‘We’ll ensure security and you can operate it.’ But we have not made a decision yet because there is always a possibility of death and such things there,” Erdoğan told reporters at a press conference before his departure to Sarajevo on Aug. 27.
Following Turkey’s decision to withdraw its troops deployed at the airport, the Taliban demanded the Turkish government’s assistance in continuing the operations of the airport through civilian means. Turkey is not against this option but is demanding certain security and other conditions from the Taliban in the aftermath of deadly bombings in Kabul on Aug. 26.
“We must first see the picture in Afghanistan. There is a serious power vacuum in the country now. We will make our decision after the emergence of the new administration,” Erdoğan stated. He said Turkey would take its steps in Afghanistan after the situation is stable and calm, adding that they won’t rush to resume commercial flights to Kabul.
Turkey is pressing on the Taliban to establish an inclusive government with the participation of former Afghan leaders who have a certain level of credibility in the international arena.
3.5 hours meeting with Taliban
Recalling that the Turkish Embassy in Kabul continues its activities from the military area of the Kabul airport, the president informed that a three-and-a-half-hour meeting between the Turkish officials and the Taliban took place there.
“We will have opportunities to hold such meetings [with the Taliban] there when necessary. These meetings mean running a healthy process [with the Taliban]. What are their expectations, what is our expectation? You can only know these through dialogue,” he said.
Evacuations will finish soon
Erdoğan stressed that completing the evacuations of Turkish citizens and Turkish troops from Afghanistan remains a priority for the Turkish government. “We will complete the evacuations as quickly as possible,” he said, informing that an air bridge between Kabul and Islamabad and Turkey has been established to this end. This operation is being conducted through cooperation between the intelligence service, foreign and defense ministries and is planned to be completed before the Aug. 31 deadline set by the Taliban.
ISIL threat for world
In his remarks about the Kabul bombings that claimed the lives of dozens of people, including 13 United States marines, Erdoğan condemned the terrorist act on behalf of the Turkish nation and condoled with the Afghan people.
“DAESH has claimed this calamity. The fact that the DAESH could take such a step in such a situation proves how dangerous it is to the region and the world,” Erdoğan said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.
These attacks make clear how important providing security is in Afghanistan, Erdoğan said, reiterating that Turkey prioritizes evacuating all of its citizens who wish to leave Afghanistan.
Turkey faces migrant pressure
On a question about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement concerning the need for cooperation with Turkey on dealing with a potential refugee influx from Afghanistan, Erdoğan said it was a late move.
Turkey is the country facing the migrant pressure the most and is already hosting around 300,000 Afghan nationals, Erdoğan said.
“But of course, it is obvious that they [Europe] are too late for some things. In other words, the decision to work with Turkey is a late decision. While everyone else left Afghanistan, we did not leave Afghanistan. We stayed in Afghanistan and at Kabul Airport. We continued the process there in the most ideal way.”
Erdoğan on two-day mini Balkan tour
Meanwhile, Erdoğan is scheduled to meet senior leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro on a visit, the presidency said in a statement.
According to his itinerary, he will first meet the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential Council in Sarajevo on Aug. 27.
In Sarajevo, he will attend the opening of Başçarşı Mosque which was restored by Turkey’s General Directorate of Foundations.
Following his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Erdoğan will pay an official visit to Montenegro on August 28, 2021, at the invitation of President Milo Dukanovic of Montenegro, read the statement.
International issues will be exchanged at the meetings to be held during both visits.