Turkey's Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah Gül arrived at Vardak, which is located an hour away from the capital, Kabul, under tight security. Turkish officials, journalists, and businessmen accompanied the minister. They were in Vardak to visit the Turkish Provincial Reconstruction Team. The team was set up a month ago with the mission of improving health and education related issues. They have developed classes on agriculture and literacy classes for women. Other products have replaced the growth of hash-hash. But problems in security still continue. It is known that clashes occasionally occur in the Vardak district. The U.S infantry, which is located very close to the Turkish team, was attacked 24 hours prior to Minister Gül's arrival.
Under the heavy snow fall, Minister Gül managed to lay the foundation of a cool storage. Afghan children, whose names I do not know, watched the ground breaking ceremony with balloons in their hand. They stood their shivering with eyes filled of curiosity, nervousness, fear, and a little hope.
Turkey will continue its PRT works in Vardak. Turkish soldiers operate under the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF. Turkey had previously assumed the responsibility of commandership for two terms. It will undertake the responsibility of commandership in the Kabul region in April. Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdülrahim Vardak says the Turkish soldiers are very important for them.
Everyone is aware of this. Even foreign soldiers in the country know that carrying the Turkish flag is a sign of specialty. That's why they carry the Turkish flag on their shoulders. When Turkey realized the situation, she made the necessary warning. Chief of the Turkish General Staff Yasar Buyukanit referred to this situation during his U.S visit in mid February and said "Some countries that feel under threat turn to the Turkish flag. We are concerned about this. If they do something wrong they will think it is the Turks."
Turkey does not want to be recognized in Afghanistan with only its military presence. "For us, winning the hearts of the Afghan people is first and foremost," Foreign Affairs Minister Gül said. But, certainly the Afghan public has a high regard for the Turkish soldiers.
Aside from the soldiers in Kabul the Turkish PRT in Vardak, there are other foundations that wave the Turkish flag in Afghanistan. One of these foundations is the Turkish Cooperation and Development Administration (TIKA). The Kabul coordinator of TIKA has achieved many important projects from education to health, ensuring clean drinking water and initiatives to strengthen the structure of the administration. The expenses of such projects are expected to reach $100 million. Schools built by TIKA have been transferred to the Afghan administration. There are 34,000 students in these schools today.
Turkey's works in the health field have also proved to be very successful. In Kabul, there is the Ataturk Pediatric Center and the Ibn-I Sina hospital, which will be renovated by Turkey. Health officials from Turkey will serve for 3 years at the hospital, which will have 79 specialists and practitioners on staff. Turkish experts will train the health officials. $10 million has been allocated for the project. Turkey will launch a health screening process in Afghanistan between Apr. 25 and May 4 and then a Health Congress will be organized.
The Turkish schools that are located all across the world can also be found here. There are 6 Turkish-Afghan high schools, including one all girls school. The current student population is 2,000, of which 200 are girls. The new school calendar in Afghanistan begins in two weeks. The first of these schools was opened in 1996 with the help of the Turkish public and non-profit organizations.
"We are in the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, where NATO and US forces launch operations and the atmosphere of the war is most dominant. We are in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Kabul; inside a construction zone. The Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister participates in a ceremony. There are teachers from Turkey; people that are 3,200 km away from their families. There is a young female student on the platform. She is one of the many girls that was denied an education. She recites a poem in Farsi. There is a Spanish melody in the background. These must be scenes from a surreal movie. But, no, it is real. It part of reality with at least 10 scenes that deeply touches the hearts of people." These are the statements of one of the people at the ceremony. We meet with teachers that have been working in one of the Turkish-Afghan high schools for 11 years. They've worked in Siberia and Erbil as well. With the utmost modesty they say, "We really aren't doing anything." One of our friends replies by saying, "What more can you do."
The construction of the high school will finish in a short period and 200 Afghan girls will be able to begin their education in the new building. The all girls High school opened in Kabul last year. They studied in a temporary building for one year. A few years ago, the Turkish team had visited Minister Gül in Ankara. When Gül told the team that they needed to open an all girls school in Kabul, works were immediately launched. At the ceremony, Minister Gül communicated the details of the meeting he held with Afghan State Minister Hamit Karzai. " The first thing Mr.Karzai talked about was these schools. He visited one of these schools in Kanadar last year. He liked it a lot. He said, please tell those who have constructed such school to open new one to increase their number." The minister extended his deepest thanks to those who built and supported these schools. As Afghanistan's Minister of Education Muhammed Hamit Atmar said, these schools are the future of Afghanistan. "Today, I do not speak your beautiful language nor understand it, but in the future these kids who will become like brother and sisters will be able to understand your language much better," Atmar said. The Turkish flag waves high at these Turkish Afghan high schools, like at the other Turkish schools around the world.
With every institution, Turkey will continue to support Afghanistan, which has for decades been subject to great pains from occupation to civil war. This was the very purpose of Minister Gül's visit to Afghanistan on Feb. 26 and 27, 2007. While assuring that support to the country would continue, Gül also said he wanted Afghanistan to be able to stand on its own two feet. With the snow of the cold winter melts, tough days await Afghanistan.
But the young boy at Vardak whose eyes were filled with fear and hope as well as all the other Afghan children want a better future. They wait for those that say "what do I have to give," instead of "what can I take from Afghanistan."
Facts and general statistics
Area: 647,500 sq. km. (249,935
Capital: Kabul, 2,000,000(approx.)
Population: 29,863,000 (2005est.)
Natural resources: Natural gas, petroleum, coal, cooper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones
Land use: Arable land 12% Permanent pastures 46% Forests and woodland 3% Other 39%
Literacy rate: 28.7 percent (UN Afghanistan Human Development Report of 2005)
Major religious, ethnic and linguistic groups
For centuries, Afghanistan has been a mosaic of people with diverse cultures, religions and languages. Afghanistan's ethnically and linguistically rich and mixed population reflects its location at the crossroads of Central, South and Southwest Asia. Communities with separate religions, languages, and ethnic backgrounds have lived side by side for generations. Afghanistan still remains a country of dynamic diversity.
The main ethnic groups are Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Aimaq, Baluch, Nuristani, and Kizilbash.
Pashto and Dari are Afghanistan's official languages. Afghanistan's Consitution stipulates that all other languages are "official" in the areas in which they are spoken by a majority of the population. Dari is spoken by more than one-third of the population and Pashto is spoken throughout Kabul and eastern and southern Afghanistan. Many Afghans are multi-lingual. Tajik and Turkic languages are spoken widely in the north. Smaller groups throughout the country also speak more than 70 other languages and numerous dialects.
Today's ZamanGüncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16