Turkey to wait for inter-Afghan talks for decision on Kabul airport: Minister
HANDE FIRAT- ANKARA
The conditions in Afghanistan have changed after the Taliban’s takeover of the rule and Turkey’s priority is to complete the evacuations, the Turkish foreign minister has said, informing that Ankara will wait for the results of the inter-Afgan negotiations to decide about its future role regarding the Kabul international airport.
In an interview with the daily Hürriyet late Aug. 18, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said it was too early to discuss whether Turkey has canceled its plans to continue to protect and operate the airport.
“Because now new conditions have arisen. We are on the military wing at the Kabul Airport. There is chaos on the civilian wing. There were problems with the landing and take-offs of the planes. Some people died, unfortunately. We are so sorry,” he said.
Turkey’s priority is to complete the evacuations of the Turkish citizens willing to return home and the decision about the fate of Turkey’s troops will be decided altogether under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the minister stated. Turkey has 500 to 600 soldiers deployed at the airport and is tasked to protect and operate it.
Recalling that the Taliban and prominent Afghan leaders who have established a commission will negotiate about the composition of the new Afghan administration, Çavuşoğlu said he hoped that these talks would yield an agreement. “This kind of thing (the control of the airport) can be discussed only after this. It’s now early to do so,” he stated.
‘Everyone is being pragmatic’
Turkey, like all other countries, including the United States, is willing to establish direct contact with the Taliban in a bid to protect its interests, Çavuşoğlu stated, saying, “It does not mean that we approve their rule or ideology. China, Russia, Iran all talk to the Taliban. Everyone is being pragmatic. These are normal things.”
When asked about his earlier remarks that the Taliban’s preliminary messages were considered positive by Ankara, Çavuşoğlu said he just referred to the Taliban’s spokespersons’ statements that they would not attack foreigners, diplomatic missions. He also recalled that the Taliban did not intervene in the operations of the airport.
“We said that we welcome these messages. We did not say that ‘we approve the Taliban’s management approach and regime or that we welcome it.’ We only said that ‘we welcome their messages,’ and that we approached cautiously, that is, we should see them in practice,” he added.
US untimely withdrawal was wrong
Turkish top diplomat recalled that two developments are being criticized regarding the latest developments in Afghanistan. “One of them is the sudden departure of [President Ashraf] Ghani. The other is the sudden and unplanned withdrawal of the U.S. There are so many lessons to be learned from this. I have told this U.S. Secretary of State [Anthony] Blinken. We have a lot to say about these mistakes after the end of the ongoing chaos,” he said.
“They made the same mistake in Iraq. It is not right to withdraw with such a sudden decision and without a plan, leaving chaos behind,” he maintained.
On the women’s right, Çavuşoğlu said they have always been very sensitive when it comes to women and children. “We want women to exercise all their rights freely in Afghanistan,” he added.