The first contact between Turkish and Afghani people was established almost 1000 years ago through the Ghaznavids’ conquest of Afghanistan. These two nations have had close ties for centuries. The 20th century was significant for the relations of Turkey and Afghanistan because these states faced challenging events, threatening independence, security, and unity. For example, Afghanistan was the colony of the UK, so it was not independent and it struggled for its independence. Meanwhile, Turkey was at war against great powers such as the UK, France, and Italy. These two states, Turkey and Afghanistan signed a protocol to tackle the challenging issues and days together.
The first step was taken in 1921 in Turkey-Afghanistan relations. That’s why, 1921 is a crucial year when Turkey established diplomatic ties with Afghanistan through Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement. That is, the first diplomatic ties between Turkey and Afghanistan were established. The states agreed on cooperation and solidarity on different political and other important issues (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Developing cooperation on diplomacy, culture, health, education, and military between Turkey and Afghanistan day by day continued from the 1920s to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Turkey sent experts to Afghanistan to contribute to the modernization process of Afghanistan (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). However, 1979 was the year when the cooperation between Turkey and Afghanistan broke off due to the Soviet occupation.
After the end of the Soviet occupation, the cooperation between Turkey and Afghanistan has resumed (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Afghanistan has faced challenges such as terrorism and infighting during the coming years. The 9/11 Attack was a significant turning point in the political history of Afghanistan and the world because Afghanistan was occupied by the USA arguing that the reason for the 11 September Attack was Afghanistan due to hosting terrorist groups such as the Taliban. Today that means that Afghanistan moved into civil war and chaos due to American occupation because there are no stability, unity, and security in Afghanistan.
How did this instability affect Turkey’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan? Firstly, we should know that the instability of Afghanistan is a threat for Turkey because this instability causes that Afghani people flee from infighting to Turkey. That means a refugee problem for Turkey as we observe today after the withdrawal decision of the USA. Also, terrorism, instability in the region, economic effects on trade of the instability are other threats for Turkey.
What did Turkey do in order to tackle the threats so far? Turkey aims to provide the unity and integrity of Afghanistan; eliminate terrorism and extremism from Afghanistan; provide security and stability in Afghanistan (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Therefore, Turkey strives to contribute to the reunifying and stability of Afghanistan through assistance programs and diplomatic attempts. For example, Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Process leading by Turkey was launched in 2007 (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Moreover, the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was initiated in 2011 (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Hence, several summits have been carried out by the high-ranking state officials of Afghanistan and Turkey so far. For instance, the President of Turkey H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a visit to Afghanistan on 18 October 2014. This visit was an important development for Turkey-Afghanistan relations because this visit was the first visit after 46 years at the presidential level (Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations). Hence, we can say that Turkey-Afghanistan relations have developed day by day.
In conclusion, Turkey-Afghanistan relations are very rooted. Turkey and Afghanistan maintain their cooperation and solidarity despite challenges to tackle the challenging issues together. Also, 2021 is the 100th anniversary of Turkey-Afghanistan relations. As for the future of Turkey-Afghanistan relations, I think Afghanistan will reach stability due to the rise of China because the location of Afghanistan is crucial for world trade. Hence, rising of China will lead to stability in Afghanistan to reach the west market safely. Hence, I think Turkey-Afghanistan relations will see better days and the Afghani refugee problem will be solved through stability in Afghanistan.
Turkey-Afghanistan Bilateral Political Relations. (tarih yok). Republic of Turkey MFA: https://www.mfa.gov.tr/turkey_afghanistan-bilateral-political-relations.en.mfa adresinden alındı