Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen
Turkey’s and China’s positions and expectations regarding Afghanistan are mostly parallel, including concerns about terrorism, Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.
Onen said Turkey is closely monitoring developments in Afghanistan and will pursue a policy of “gradual engagement” with the new Taliban interim government.
Turkey is an important player in Afghanistan and has provided security at Kabul International Airport for six years as part of the NATO mission. After the announcement of the formation of an interim government, Turkey reacted with caution. In a recent interview with Nikkei Asia, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was “too early” for Turkey to commit to recognizing the new government in Afghanistan.
“The international community must continue its calls for the membership of all sectors of Afghan society to ensure lasting peace in the coming period,” the ambassador said in the interview.
Currently, due to the instability in Afghanistan, Onen said he has evacuated civilians and troops from Afghanistan, except for a small technical group. But they keep the Turkish embassy in Kabul operational to maintain a diplomatic presence and continue dialogue with the Taliban.
Some analysts have pointed out that the continued operations of the Turkish embassy in Kabul under the new circumstances shows that the country is keen to engage in dialogue and communication with all parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.
âIn a broader perspective, Turkey’s policy in Afghanistan is based on four main pillars: preserving unity and territorial integrity, consolidating security and stability, strengthening a broad political structure favoring popular support and participation, and ensure peace and well-being for the Afghan people by eliminating the countries of terrorism and extremism, âhe said, noting that the current situation in the country poses challenges of various dimensions in the achievement of these goals.
He told the Global Times that they had “serious concerns” about the possibility of a re-emergence of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda or the proliferation of other terrorist elements under different ideological masks taking advantage of a power vacuum and instability.
Last month, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu exchanged views on the Afghan situation during a telephone conversation.
Wang said the Taliban in Afghanistan must clearly break away from all terrorist forces and take action to suppress international terrorist organizations designated by the United Nations Security Council, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. For his part, Cavusoglu said he fully agreed with Wang on the Afghan issue.
In the interview with the Global Times, Ambassador Onen said they are open and ready to cooperate with all parties in efforts to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.
âWith this understanding, we also support various regional efforts focused on improving economic, energy and infrastructure connectivity, including [China-proposed] Belt and Road Initiative, he said.
“There is ample room for cooperation between Turkey and China in these areas, especially in the process of rebuilding Afghanistan in the times to come.”
The United Nations has previously warned that up to half a million Afghans could flee the country by the end of the year, which has raised concerns about the refugees.
While Turkey has accepted large numbers of Syrian refugees in the past, this time Ankara has shown a firm stance and refused to take in more refugees.
The Ambassador said that on migration Turkey’s position is clear, just as the Foreign Minister stressed that it is out of the question for Turkey to bear an additional burden of refugees.
He said that some of these displaced Afghans are currently seeking refuge on Turkey’s eastern borders. Turkey currently hosts nearly 5 million refugees, including around 3.7 million Syrians, the world’s largest refugee population, as well as around 300,000 Afghans.
“Turkey cannot bear the burden of a new wave of migrants from Afghanistan. Our government is taking effective measures against illegal irregular immigration,” he said.
“The principle of burden sharing must be supported by the international community taking into consideration that the current problems and their destabilizing ramifications are not only problems of Afghanistan and its neighbors but of the whole world”, a- he stressed.