Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan praised the Taliban for its moderate statements since it seized power at the weekend.
Speaking in an interview, Erdoğan said that the principles of brotherhood require Turkey to stand by Afghanistan no matter who is in power.
“We welcome the restrained and moderate statements made by the Taliban leadership,” Erdoğan told five local television channels on Wednesday. Turkey is ready to work with Afghanistan for a brighter future and to meet with the Taliban leadership, he added.
The Taliban has sought to reassure the international community about its support for human rights, including the rights of women and girls under sharia law, media freedom and protection for former government personnel. But Western politicians and human rights groups say the group should not be taken at its word, pointing to its record of human rights abuses.
On Wednesday, Waheedullah Hashimi, a senior member of the Taliban, said Afghanistan would be governed by a ruling council with no democratic system.
“There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country,” Hashimi told Reuters. “We will not discuss what type of system should we apply to Afghanistan because it is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”
The Taliban’s leadership will discuss issues of governance later this week, he said.
Turkey under its Islamist president is seeking to retain a foothold in Afghanistan as it seeks to expand its regional influence and win lucrative development contracts. Erdoğan is also attempting to prevent a fresh wave of migrants spilling over Turkey’s borders. The country hosts millions of refugees from Syria and elsewhere and anti-migrant sentiment among the public is on the rise.
“Turkey is ready for all kinds of cooperation for peace in Afghanistan, the well-being of our kin in the country and the protection of Turkey’s interests,” Erdoğan said in the interview.
Turkey is stopping short of saying that it will recognise the Taliban government. This week, many of the group’s political leaders returned to Afghanistan from exile in Qatar, Turkey’s closest regional ally.
Turkey will decide on officially recognising the Taliban-led government once a new administration is formed, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with Japan-based news provider Nikkei. The international community should act together on the issue, both the Muslim and non-Muslim world, he said.
Europe is also seeking a united international response to dealing with the Taliban. The group must show with deeds that they have changed, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement on Twitter.
Germany suspended development aid to Afghanistan this week and has warned that the Taliban will not get a cent of its money should they set up a caliphate in the country.
“The Taliban need to demonstrate their commitment to human rights through actions, not vague words,” John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said on Wednesday. “Gaining the trust of the nation and the world will require Taliban authorities throughout Afghanistan to respect everyone’s human rights and permit the United Nations and other independent entities to monitor human rights conditions.”