Turkey’s Kabul airport presence a peace mission: Afghan envoy

by Sami Burgaz

ANKARA, TURKEY – AUGUST 12: Afghanistan’s newly appointed ambassador to Ankara on Thursday said that Turkey’s ongoing mission at the Hamid Karzai International Airport is in support of peace and stability.

Speaking to a group of reporters from the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Turkey, Amir Mohammad Ramin hailed Turkey’s role in Afghanistan.

“The whole idea of continuation of Turkey’s important mission in Afghanistan is to ensure that the peace and stability in Afghanistan is maintained and strengthened,”

Amir Mohammad Ramin
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Republic of Turkey

He stressed that the peace and stability of “Afghanistan has close links to the economic development of the region, including preventing the influx of migration to all our neighboring countries and the region, especially Turkey.”

“This is a peace mission. This is in support of peace and stability,” he said, adding that Turkey’s extended mission at the airport “will continue to have the support of the Government of Afghanistan, as well as the support of the other NATO members, especially the US.”

Ramin said that there are “five security layers” as part of the mission.

“Four of them will be handled by the Afghan security forces, and then Turkey will be inside the actual airport. And obviously the air defense will make sure that there’s also security measures in place for civilian use of the airport,” he added.

Ankara has been running the military and logistic operations of the Kabul airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.

Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been noncombatants, has reportedly offered to guard the airport amid questions over how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to Kabul.

Influx of migrants from Afghanistan

Noting that Afghanistan, as well as the region, is currently going through a “very critical time,” Ramin said the negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban “has not met the expectations of the people of Afghanistan as well as the government” because the primary objective of negotiations was to reduce violence and to achieve a comprehensive countrywide cease-fire.

“On the contrary, unfortunately, we see a spike and increase in the violence,” he said, adding the displacement of thousands of people triggered a new flow of migrants to the neighboring countries.

Citing the latest “influx of migrants” from Afghanistan to Turkey, the Afghan envoy urged the international community to push for a cease-fire in his country.

“This particular migration is not something new,” Ramin said, adding that Afghan authorities for a long time “have very close cooperation with high-level Turkish authorities to ensure that all the concerns are addressed.”

He said that they have asked relevant Turkish authorities to identify those Afghan nationals that may have caused trouble or any harm to bilateral relations and be sent back to Afghanistan.

Ramin also made a “humble plea and request” to Turkish political parties regarding the issue, saying that his country is “in a very difficult time.”

“Our [Afghanistan’s] humble request and my humble request as the ambassador of Afghanistan is to call on some political forces … to make sure that this (issue) does not turn into a political campaigning tool against each other,” the envoy said.

On the other hand, there are also numerous formal migrations from Afghanistan, he noted, saying that Afghanistan ranks eighth in Turkey in terms of property investments by Afghans.

“These are the people who have come to spend their money, and many of them are here with their families. They have economically contributed in various economic sectors in Turkey,” he added.

The Afghan ambassador also said there are workers that come to Turkey during the summer season, contribute to the hard labor force and then leave in the winter season.

Stressing that some of those seasonal workers come and work illegally, Ramin said this should be regularized.
Stressing that “Turkey has put a lot of measures along the border,” he said that the latest influx of irregular migrants is due to violence by the Taliban.

“Their mothers do not want them to go and join the Taliban, so their mothers want them to leave Afghanistan temporarily until there is clarity in the situation,” he said.

“I think, in terms of ideology, there is no difference between the ideology of Daesh and the ideology of Taliban,”

The envoy said a huge number of Afghan men have actually left for Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran.
He said there are millions of Afghans staying in Pakistan and Iran, adding this figure in Turkey for 2020 is 200,000 and that many of them are formal migrants, including residents and those who have made investments.

Turkey has been a key transit point for irregular migrants who want to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution.

Turkey-Afghanistan relations

Citing deep-rooted relations between Turkey and Afghanistan which “date back to centuries ago,” Ramin said: “Afghanistan and Turkey historically have had very close cultural and people-to-people links.”

“This year, we celebrate 100 years of our diplomatic relations,” he said.

“Turkey has been a very strong supporter of peace and stability in Afghanistan through NATO, but also bilaterally, economically, and politically. In terms of education, thousands of students come here and study,” he added.

On a question regarding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s last night remarks that Turkish authorities are working to hold talks with the Taliban, Ramin said: “We welcome the statements made by President Erdogan last night, and we welcome the positions … and we will continue to welcome them in the future.”

Violence has escalated across Afghanistan as US-led foreign forces have almost withdrawn following 20 years of military operations.

The Taliban have rapidly captured several smaller administrative districts, and are now targeting towns and cities. They have captured nine provincial capitals from government forces in six days.


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