Last week, the public agenda in Turkey has been busy with three main topics.
First topic was the Pakistani President Arif Alvi’s official visit to Turkey.
Second were the severe floods that took place in the Black Sea provinces of Kastamonu, Sinop and Bartın, in the north of Turkey.
Third was the remarks made on the Afghan crisis and the takeover of the capital Kabul, by both the opposition and government politicians in Turkey.
Pakistani President’s official visit to Turkey
The Pakistani President Arif Alvi has paid an official visit to Turkey last Sunday.
President Alvi conferred Pakistan’s top civil awards upon two Turkish dignitaries at a special ceremony in Istanbul.
Alvi conferred Sitara-e-Imtiaz upon Selami Kilic and Sitara-i-Quaid-i-Azam upon Professor Celal Soydan in recognition of their outstanding services to Pakistan.
Late on the same day, the Turkish president said that Pakistan has a vital duty to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, where conflicts have intensified recently.
Speaking at a ship launching ceremony as part of the Pakistan MILGEM Corvette Project in Istanbul, the first corvette ship built in Turkey for the Pakistan’s Navy, named the PNS Babur, Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Pakistan on its 75th day of independence.
“As Turkey, we are facing a wave of Afghan migrants through Iran,” he said, adding that his country would continue to put every effort to help bring stability in Afghanistan and in the region.
“To achieve this, we need to boost cooperation with Pakistan.”
“Pakistan with a population of 220 million plays a critical role in efforts to establish peace and increase prosperity in South Asia,” he added.
During the ceremony, Pakistani president said that Pakistan is one of the largest markets for Turkish defense products.
Alvi said the two countries are facing similar challenges and threats, and that they have deepened their partnership in various fields, especially in defense and security.
He said the cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan in the construction of warships contributes not only to the increase in the capabilities of the Pakistan Navy, but also to the strengthening of the friendship between the two countries.
“Pakistan stands by our Turkish Cypriot brothers in Northern Cyprus. We may have two different cultures and languages, but we are one people,” Alvi said.
With close cultural and historical ties, Pakistan and Turkey have great potential for cooperation in a host of areas, according to Pakistan’s president.
The Pakistani head of state spoke on various issues including bilateral relations, the situation in Afghanistan (before the dramatic fall of the capital Kabul on Sunday), and ties with India, among others.
“The international community has been a community where rather than principles that should have mattered, there are vested interests – e.g. Kashmir, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh – for quite some time” said president Alvi.
About the economic cooperation between these two countries, Alvi said “The success of those investments is what the Turkish and Pakistan business community should be looking at, for example, many other areas where products being made in Pakistan with Turkish collaboration are being exported to Africa.”
Alvi said “The Chinese government over the last 15-20 years developed a One Belt One Road policy for their entire development with other countries. Similarly, Pakistan is at the center of economic trade. The route of the Central Asian countries, as far as trade is concerned, is much shorter when it comes to water. So for Central Asian countries for China for Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, everybody is concerned that this geo-economic hub, which Pakistan claims to be today, is very important for trade enhancement. And the more trade happens, the more people link themselves together, the more the prosperity, this overrules people’s emotional situations.” about the geo-economic importance of Pakistan and other Central Asian countries.
Alvi also congratulated Turkey and Azerbaijan for solving an issue which the international media and community had closed their eyes to (in Nagorno-Karabakh). He said, “We are hopeful that Northern Cyprus will also have a solution.”
Flood disasters in the Black Sea region of Turkey
Floods caused by powerful rains, which started Wednesday, have killed 77 people in Turkey’s Black Sea region.
Floods caused by heavy rain hit the Black Sea region in the north of the country last Wednesday, leaving 62 people dead only in the province of Kastamonu, said a Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) statement.
Fourteen others died in the Sinop province, along with one more person in the Bartin province. The treatment of seven people continues in hospitals, it said.
A total of 341 people in Bartin, 1,480 in Kastamonu, and 560 in Sinop were evacuated to safe areas, added the agency.
Earlier on Monday, it also announced that 47 people were reported missing in Sinop and Kastamonu.
Rescue and relief efforts continue in the flood-hit areas, with some 8,100 personnel, 1,000 vehicles, 21 helicopters, and 81 ambulances, it added.
On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the worst-hit flood area in Bozkurt, Kastamonu Province. Erdogan announced that the places affected had been declared disaster zones and are slated for government aid.
On Friday, Turkey received condolence messages from around the world because of deadly floods in the Black Sea region that have claimed dozens of lives.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov extended his condolences to his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for the natural disaster, according to the Presidential Press Center.
Noting that the people of Kyrgyzstan share the sorrow of the relatives of those who lost their lives and wish a speedy recovery to everyone affected by the disaster, Japarov said: “I pray to God that brotherly Turkey will get through this difficult situation as soon as possible.”
Daifallah al-Fayez, spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry, extended condolences to the Turkish people and government for the loss of life caused by the flood and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
In a written message, al-Fayez underlined that Jordan stands in solidarity with Turkey in the midst of the painful disaster.
Conveying its condolences, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States said on Twitter: “We convey our condolences to Turkish Government & brotherly people of Turkey, wish a speedy recovery to those affected by the disaster.”
The council is an international organization of several Turkic countries, including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
Remarks on Afghan crisis from opposition and government politicians in Turkey
After the downfall of Kabul to the Taliban, many Turkish politicians from the opposition and the government parties have made remarks about the approach towards Afghanistan and concerning the situation of the Turkish troops remaining in Kabul.
Recalling that Turkey and the United States have been carrying on negotiations to operate and secure the Kabul airport in Afghanistan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 20 said Ankara is ready to conduct talks with the Taliban.
“There are some issues that the Taliban are uncomfortable with. By negotiating this process with the Taliban, just as the Taliban made some of the talks with the United States, the Taliban should hold these talks with Turkey much more comfortably,” Erdogan told reporters in Turkish Cyprus.
“Since there is nothing wrong with them, I think that we can better discuss these issues with them and get along,” he added.
Referring to crucial Afghan peace talks in the Qatari capital Doha, Erdogan said “this process will proceed” to communication with Turkey on the issue of the Kabul airport.
“Imperial powers entered Afghanistan; they have been there for over 20 years. We also stood by our Afghan brothers against all imperial powers,” the president stated.
Noting that the U.S. announced its decision to withdraw from the region, Erdogan said that Washington wanted Kabul Airport to be operated by Turkey as it had been doing so for several years.
The Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey is in dialogue with all sides in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, on Tuesday.
“We would like to say that we welcome the messages given by the Taliban so far,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters during a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi.
Cavusoglu said he was referring to the group’s messages on foreigners and diplomatic missions in the country, as well as Afghanistan’s people. “I hope we see this in action as well,” he added.
“Important figures like top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah and former president Hamid Karzai, who had previously been part of negotiations, are still in Kabul and are preparing for talks with the Taliban,” added Cavusoglu.
He also praised Qatar for its role in the Afghan peace talks, underlining that Afghanistan needed “calm.”
Turkey will continue to support Afghanistan’s economic development, stability, and peace added Cavusoglu.
For his part, al-Safadi said his country hopes to see a unity government in Afghanistan.
“We hope to see a unity government in Afghanistan with the Afghan rivals agreeing on a mechanism that secures the peace and stability of the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader has said that Turkey is currently hosting nearly half a million Afghans on its soil and should be on alert against a new influx from Afghanistan in the coming period.
“It is estimated that there are approximately 500,000 Afghan refugees in our country. It’s understood that an influx of refugees from Afghanistan will reach our borders in the risky and dangerous period ahead. We must be on the alert,” MHP chairman Devlet Bahceli said in an interview over the weekend.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party the CHP, said that Turkey should immediately pull back all of its troops and police force from Afghanistan.
“I am calling on the government: Pull back our soldiers and police force from Afghanistan. Our troops serve only for the interests of our people,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on Twitter late August 15th.
Kilicdaroglu’s message came right as the Taliban took control of Kabul and across the country over the weekend, causing a big panic and chaos in the capital city. Turkey has around 500 troops deployed at the Kabul international airport and was in talks with the United States for the continuation of this mission after the withdrawal of NATO.
“We are not going to sacrifice our troops where others fled without looking back. Personal promises given at informal tables have no validity,” he said.
Kilicdaroglu argued that the West will likely engage with President Erdogan to avoid the risk of a new refugee influx from Afghanistan and prefer his victory in the coming elections. “We will not allow this. He has to take the people’s consent before the negotiations with the West. Let’s go to polls,” stressed Kilicdaroglu.
Leader of Vatan Party Dogu Perincek has stated that they have enjoyed the takeover of capital Kabul, stressing that this had been a war of independence for the Afghan people:
“The Afghan people have fought against the United States under the leadership of the Taliban for 20 years. The Taliban has defeated the US imperialism. America has fled from Afghanistan. The Taliban has succeeded the Afghan war of independence, just as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk did in Turkey.
The Taliban has organized the local population and fought against the US for 20 years. 20, long years, is there any other extreme example in history? It is being reliant on the people, this is different from taking votes from the ballot box. All you have to do is to simply put one anonymous vote to the box. And it is putting its life in danger on the other side, and is actively fighting against the US. There is no more extreme way, to rely on your people themselves.”