No: 225, 02 December 2009, Press Release Regarding the Statements of US President Barack Obama on Afghanistan

We wish the decision of the US President Barack Obama to deploy 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan, to pursue a more effective civilian strategy and to enhance partnership with Pakistan, to be beneficial for the overall efforts aimed at ensuring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and its region.

We would like to see Afghanistan, which has just left behind a long and arduous election process, develop lasting solutions to problems it faces, within its national unity and integrity, by enhancing local leadership and ownership. Afghanistan’s future will be determined under the leadership and ownership of the Afghans.

Throughout this process, the continued strong support of the international community is just as important as the resolute efforts of the Afghan President and Government. In that regard, the efforts of our friend and ally USA, aimed at augmenting contributions from international community, are actually consistent with the approach we have been advocating. We hope that the international community heeds this call and increases its contributions.

We have strong relations with Afghanistan since the time of our Great Leader Atatürk and our commitment to this country is long-term. Currently we have been carrying on in Afghanistan the most comprehensive sustainable development assistance program in the history of our Republic. We will be continuing our contributions.

We maintain our military contributions to security and stability since 2001 without interruption. The assumption of the Command of the Kabul Region for the second time as of 31 October 2009 is one of the most recent and concrete examples of our efforts in this regard. Within this context, the number of our troops deployed in Afghanistan has been doubled. We are currently revaluating our efforts aimed at training of the Afghan National Security Forces with a view to increasing them.

That the problems in Afghanistan cannot be resolved by military means alone is a sensitive point which we have been emphasizing for long. Today, this approach is commonly accepted by all members of the international community. Efforts aimed at improving human capital, institutional capacity and socio-economic development in Afghanistan are crucial for ensuring lasting peace and stability. Turkey is also increasing its efforts in this field significantly.

Our humanitarian assistance and other civilian contributions are being delivered in various regions of Afghanistan, in a manner that embraces the rich social and cultural fabric of the country as a whole. Health, education and improvement of human and institutional capacity are the principal areas that we attach priority. Our Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Wardak, which has earned appreciation of the Afghan people and the international community alike with the successful projects it has been implementing since November 2006, enables us to extend our efforts to broader masses. We have decided to further expand our activities by establishing a new PRT in the near future.

Our efforts are also being intensified in the diplomatic field. Afghanistan’s self-sufficiency in the long term, without having to depend on the international community, could only be possible through the development of a regional dialogue and cooperation texture that has been built on strong foundations. Through the Trilateral Summit process at the level of the Presidents of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been launched in April 2007, Turkey spends meaningful and result-oriented efforts in this realm too. We will continue the Trilateral Summit Process, which has been convened thrice so far, last one being on 1 April 2009, with a new Summit that will be held as soon as possible.

We have also commenced the preparations for a Regional Summit which will be hosted by Turkey with the participation of Afghanistan, her neighbours and some observers. The informal consultative meeting held on 9 November 2009, in Istanbul, on the margins of the COMCEC Economic Summit and hosted by H.E. President Mr. Abdullah Gül with the participation of Afghanistan, her COMCEC member neighbours and some observer countries, constituted a significant step in preparations aimed at further enhancing the Regional Process. Furthermore, the 4th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA) which will also be hosted by Turkey will constitute yet another significant contribution to the Regional Process in the time ahead. We are, thereby, contributing to the development of a cooperation scheme based on institutionalized foundations among the countries of the region.

On this occasion, we reiterate our belief in the significance of the continuation of the international community’s civilian and military efforts aimed at establishing, on strong foundations, lasting peace, stability and cooperation in Afghanistan and in her region. Coordination of these efforts with the Afghan authorities and among the members of the international community under the coordination of the UN should be given attention.