Turkey will continue to contribute to the development and security of Afghanistan, the country’s foreign minister said Monday.
“We continue to contribute to the security of our brothers and sisters with our soldiers operating within the NATO mission providing training and equipment support to Afghan security forces,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a reception marking the centenary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Afghanistan via video link.
“We will continue to stay in this country as long as our Afghan brothers want,” Cavusoglu added.
Turkey will maintain its contributions to peace efforts, which should be supported by economic development, he underlined.
“In this context, making Afghanistan, located in the heart of Asia, the center of connectivity projects should be our main goal.”
On Dec. 16, 2020, the Turkish parliament approved a motion to extend the deployment of Turkish troops in Afghanistan for 18 months as part of NATO’s support mission in the war-torn country.
On Jan. 6, 2019, legislation was put into effect allowing the Turkish government to send troops to Afghanistan to support the NATO-led mission, Resolute Support.
After the end of the 17-year combat mission in Afghanistan in 2018, it has evolved into a training and advising initiative of the nascent Afghan security forces.
Around 12,000 foreign troops from 28 NATO allies and 14 other partner nations agreed to support the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
The legislation that was first passed in 2015 and grants the government authority to permit foreign army personnel to be transported to and from Afghanistan through Turkey.
– 100th anniversary of diplomatic ties
Praising the centenary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Afghanistan, Cavusoglu said common history and culture shaped ties between the two countries.
Underlining that both nations have stood by each other in the most troubled times, Cavusoglu said Ankara supported Afghanistan to stand on its own feet during the early Republic period after Turkey’s own founding in 1923.
Cavusoglu said many Turkish teachers, doctors and officers helped construct modern institutions in Afghanistan between 1920-1960.
He named Turkish doctor Kamil Urga, who he said “served Afghanistan for 17 years. He laid the foundations of the Kabul Medicine Faculty.”
Stressing that two countries closely cooperate on international platforms and in multilateral mechanisms, he said they also acted together in the fight against terrorism.
Turkey continues to give support for the development and security of Afghanistan, he added. “Our development assistance to Afghanistan is one of the largest aid programs carried out in our country. We realized 1,300 projects including education, health and infrastructure.”
Ankara is contributing to the future of Afghanistan as it opened more than 100 schools and provided 4,000 Afghan students with scholarships, he added.
Cavusoglu and Amir Mohammad Ramin, the Afghan ambassador to Turkey, planted two spruce samplings in the garden of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. As they remain green all year-round, spruces represent the brotherhood of the two nations, he said.
Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Afghanistan were established with the signing of the Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement on March 1, 1921. The Turkish Embassy in Kabul was the first diplomatic representation to be inaugurated in Afghanistan after it gained independence in 1919.
Also, Afghanistan became the second country to recognize the government under the young Turkish parliament founded in 1920 during Turkey’s independence war.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar
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