The friendship and brotherhood of the Turkish and Afghan people ensure the maintenance of close relations between the armed forces of the two nations, as in all fields. Afghanistan’s emerging Defence and Aerospace Sector and its developing Armed Forces have the potential to add new dimensions to this close relationship.
This year, the Embassy of Afghanistan in Ankara was unable to hold a reception with broad participation to celebrate Independence Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AMAC Magazine, the official publication of the Ankara Military Attaché Corps, spoke to Mr. Habib Ahmad Khinjani, Chargé d’affaires of Afghanistan, on the occasion of Afghan Independence Day on 19th of August, as part of the efforts to keep ties between diplomatic representatives and the sector alive amid the ongoing pandemic. During the meeting, Mr. Khinjani provided information about the military relations between the two countries, as well as their cooperation in the defence and aerospace field.
Afghanistan and Turkey’s military relations include health and military education sectors. Afghan National Army members are receiving treatments in Turkish hospitals based on a signed protocol between the two countries, while the cooperation in education includes Associate Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees, Master’s Degrees and various military vocational courses, trainings and exercises. Such cooperation between the two countries extends also to their police forces.
In addition Turkey is providing aid to the Afghan National Army under bilateral agreements and grants.
Preconditions for Cooperation Fulfilled
There are many cooperation opportunities between Turkey and Afghanistan in defence and aerospace sectors, but before addressing these opportunities, Mr. Khinjani noted how the two countries could make rapid progress in this regard: “I would like to point out that we are open to all kinds of cooperation and joint activities with all institutions, both state and private; operating in the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Sector, considering the ties of friendship and brotherhood that have existed for centuries between Afghanistan and Turkey. As known, Afghanistan is going through a process of reconstruction and development, and so trade circles that may be rare in other countries, as well as employment opportunities can be found in abundance in Afghanistan. Accordingly, we would be happy to see all institutions and organisations operating in the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Sector deciding to invest in Afghanistan, and consequently, benefitting from these opportunities. Trust, integrity and sensitivity are regarded as a prerequisite for activities particularly in the field of defence. We are delighted and thankful to see the exceptional friendship, brotherhood and cooperation between our two countries; these factors are common between Afghanistan and Turkey. In support of the cooperation and activities of the defence sector companies of Turkey and Afghanistan, an environment has been established that allows immediate action, without having to worry about developing a climate of trust.”
There are several projects looming in the short term in Afghanistan, one of which is a facility for the maintenance and repairing of small-calibre weapons, and production of ammunitions for such weapons. This project was initiated in the past but subsequently slowed down mainly due to the pandemic and now it is being accelerated, after Afghanistan has requested Turkey’s help for cooperation and facilitation.
In the longer term, Mr. Khinjani expected that the built relations and cooperation in the defence and aerospace sectors between Afghanistan and Turkey deepens following the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, stating: “We have brought many Turkish companies together with Afghan authorities, and the Ministry of Defence for Afghanistan has the details of these companies.”
Expressing about the future of the two countries’ relations in the defence and aerospace sector, Mr. Khinjani added: “The Turkish Defence and Aerospace Sector has now attained self-sufficiency, and has started to export its technologies. We are proud to see these developments in our friend and brother Turkey. Currently a defence and aerospace sector is emerging in Afghanistan which we believe that in the future, Afghanistan will be able to help Turkey strengthen the production power of its defence and aerospace sector through collaborations and joint activities between our countries. We would like to reiterate our invitation to Turkish defence and aerospace industry companies to come to Afghanistan and contribute in strengthening the cooperation between the two countries, and to increase the volume of common trade.”