Positions of Turkey, China on Afghan issue mainly parallel, including terrorism concerns: Turkish Ambassador
Published: Sep 11, 2021 06:19 PM
Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen

Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen

The positions and expectations of Turkey and China regarding Afghanistan are mainly parallel, including concerns over terrorism, the Turkish Ambassador to China Abdulkadir Emin Onen told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

Onen said that Turkey is carefully monitoring developments in Afghanistan and will conduct a policy of "gradual engagement" with the new interim Taliban 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 cautiously. In a recent interview with Nikkei Asia, its Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it's "too early" for Turkey to commit to recognizing the new government in Afghanistan.

"The international community should continue its calls for the embracement of all sectors of the Afghan society to ensure durable peace in the period ahead," the ambassador said in the interview.

Currently, due to instability in Afghanistan, Onen said that they have evacuated civilians and troops from Afghanistan except for a small technical group. But they are keeping the Turkish Embassy in Kabul operational to maintain a diplomatic presence and continue dialogue with the Taliban. 

Some analysts pointed out that the continued operation of the Turkish embassy in Kabul under the new circumstances showed that the country is keen to engage in dialogue and communication with all Afghan parties, including the Taliban.

"On the broader perspective, Turkey's Afghanistan policy has four main pillars: Preserving unity and territorial integrity, consolidating security and stability, strengthening a broad-based political structure prioritizing popular support and participation, and providing peace and welfare to the Afghan people through clearing the country of terrorism and extremism," he said, noting that the current situation in the country poses challenges from various dimensions in realizing these aims. 

He told the Global Times that they have "serious concerns" regarding the possibility of a reemergence of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda or proliferation of some other terror elements under different ideological cloaks by 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 in a phone conversation.

Wang said that the Taliban in Afghanistan needs to make a clear break with all terrorist forces and take measures to crack down on the international terrorist organizations designated by the United Nations Security Council, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. For his part, Cavusoglu said he fully agrees 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 aiming for peace and stability in Afghanistan. 

"With this understanding, we also support various regional efforts focusing on enhancing economic, energy and infrastructure connectivity, including the [China-proposed] Belt and Road Initiative," he said.

"There is ample room for cooperation between Turkey and China in these sectors, particularly in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan in the time ahead."

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 triggered refugee concerns.

While Turkey has accepted a large amount of Syrian refugees in the past, this time, Ankara showed a strong stance and refused to take in more refugees.

The ambassador said with respect to migration, Turkey's position is clear, just as the Foreign Minister emphasized that it is out of the question for Turkey to take an additional refugee burden. 

He introduced that at present, some of those displaced Afghan people are seeking refuge at Turkey's eastern borders. Turkey currently hosts nearly 5 million refugees including approximately 3.7 million Syrians, the world's largest refugee population, as well as about 300,000 Afghans. 

"Turkey cannot take the burden of a new migrant wave from Afghanistan. Our government is taking efficient steps against illegal irregular immigration," he said.

"The principle of burden-sharing should be upheld by the international community by taking into consideration the fact that the current problems and their destabilizing ramifications are not just problems of Afghanistan and her neighbors but of the whole world," he stressed.