Turkey, Qatar continue to work on operation of Kabul airport
Together with Qatar, Turkey continues to work on the operation of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, which is important for all Afghan people, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Tuesday, News.Az reports citing Daily Sabah.
Speaking to Turkish Parliament's Planning and Budget Committee, Akar stated that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has undertaken important duties in Afghanistan and that, in accordance with the United Nations and NATO resolutions, approximately 20,000 personnel have been working in Afghanistan since 2002 within the body of the TSK.
"After the U.S. and NATO's decision to leave Afghanistan, in the last period that developed faster than expected and the conditions became more difficult, the evacuation decision was taken and the process was successfully completed in less than 48 hours as planned," he said.
"As Turkey, we will continue to closely follow the developments in the region from now on," Akar added.
Within 10 days in August, the Taliban had announced its control of most of Afghanistan in parallel with the United States withdrawal from the country after 20 years of military presence. Shortly after the withdrawal of forces, technical teams from Turkey and Qatar started working on getting the airport back to operational standards.
After the Taliban seized control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport. Keeping the airport open after foreign forces handed over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but to maintain aid supplies and operations.
Turkey has been working with Qatar to reopen the airport in the Afghan capital for international travel. However, repairs are needed before commercial flights can resume.
The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in Afghanistan, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant actors open.
The Taliban say they want international recognition but warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migrants from the country. Taliban officials previously noted that they want Turkey to provide aid and support to the Afghan people. They called on Turkey to be the first country to formally recognize the new administration in Afghanistan.
NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged those countries to step up engagement. At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.