Developments in Afghanistan have put the country’s population in dire straits, and the current process with Taliban is “quite problematic”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a live televised interview on Wednesday.
“We are working on this matter, including some meetings with the Taliban,” Erdoğan said. The president continued:
“So much so that I may be in a position to meet with the person who will become their leader. Why? Because if we cannot take them under control at the top level, we will not be able to establish peace in Afghanistan.”
“Don’t we have veritable blood relatives in Afghanistan? We do. With all these, we will take certain steps and work to see who we can take on our side,” Erdoğan added.
Turkey is raising the height of border walls along its eastern and southern borders with Iran and Iraq to curb any illegal crossings, according to the president.
“Everybody should know that Turkey is not a traveller’s inn,” Erdoğan said. “There is no wave of irregular migration through our borders in the manner that certain people exaggerate on social media. Are we building these walls for nothing?”
Border agents have apprehended 505,375 people attempting to cross Turkish borders illegally in 2020, Erdoğan added, and deported “the majority of irregular migrant Afghans” back to Afghanistan.
“I personally do not view this social media positively at all,” the president continued, calling for further restrictions in the upcoming period. Turkey passed a social media law last year, introducing strict fines on platforms for refusing to cooperate with Turkish authorities. In July this year, the president announced intentions to establish a social media watchdog to combat what he called disinformation.
Erdoğan also slammed main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, saying he had no experience in conducting foreign policy.
In response, Kılıçdaroğlu accused Erdoğan of falsifying his interview.
“Let alone the answers you will give to ‘questions’, you have to have people put even your insults to me on a prompter,” the opposition leader said. “Thanks to you, this country has come to know an interview with whispering journalists,” he added, referring to the occasional whispers that could be heard during the broadcast.
During the interview, a prompter could be seen on camera on occasion, situated across from Erdoğan.