Turkey helps Afghanistan transform itself
A new report titled “Afghanistan’s Future and Turkey’s Contribution,” released by the International Strategic Research Organization (USAK), on Friday, covered the next phase in Afghanistan’s restructuring process and Turkey’s crucial contributions toward that end.
“Afghanistan is now in a transition period in which [their] first democratic elections took place and the Taliban question is being resolved. In this [coming time period], neighboring countries and Turkey will impact the developments in the country,” said Selçuk Çolakoğlu, vice president of USAK, during a presentation on Friday at USAK’s office in Ankara.
The report views the first presidential elections this year as a litmus test for Afghanistan’s successful transition to democracy. The ongoing deadlock in the aftermath of the elections due to fraud allegations is seen as a drawback.
In the second round of the presidential elections, after Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai won with 56 percent of the votes, supporters of the opposing candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, held nationwide protests claiming that the elections were conducted fraudulently.
“Both candidates should agree on forming a functioning national unity government, regardless of who won the elections,” said Mehmet Yeğin, head of the USAK Center for American Studies.
The report mentioned the improving security situation and growing stability in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s decaying influence and the army’s high number of troops are viewed as a shield against an insurgency uprising. Nevertheless, the fact that only 26 percent of the government’s budget is allocated to the security forces was not viewed as adequate for maintaining functional stability in the country so that economic growth could be sustained over the long term, noting the sharp economic downturn of the past two years.
The report describes Afghanistan as richly endowed with natural resources such as oil, gas and copper, but also emphasizes the aid-reliant nature of the economy.
The final section of the report addressed Turkey’s crucial undertakings in Afghanistan’s restoration process. The report read: “Both countries have had amicable relations since the foundation of the Turkish Republic and even dating back to the late-Ottoman era. In this regard, Turkey’s presence in Afghanistan since 2001 takes the form of a contribution to the economy and society.”
The report says 84 schools and 70 hospital clinics have been renovated to date and around $600 million has been donated to provinces in Afghanistan. It is also cited that the Turkish companies rank first among foreign investors in conducting business in Afghanistan, with approximately 60 construction companies operating in the country.
According to the report, Turkey will have a critical role in Afghanistan’s future. “Turkey has the potential to assist Afghanistan in the fields of agriculture, livestock, medicine and textiles. There is also a need for more investment in the education sector in Afghanistan,” it said.