The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said he will not sign a Security Agreement with the US if the Washington Administration fails to ensure security guarantees. Giving an exclusive interview with TRT TURK during his visit to Turkey, where a tripartite summit was held with Turkey and Pakistan, Karzai stated "The US should bring peace and stability before taking over the military bases."
Karzai shared his opinions on several critical issues ranging from the US withdrawal, Security Agreement, Afghan elections and border conflicts with Pakistan with TRT TURK's Pakistan representative Levent Ozturk.
Afghan president highlighted once again his government has set the condition of enhancing security in the country for signing Security Agreement with US. Acknowledging NATO's contribution to Afghan economy and re-construction of the state system, he underlined the lack of security poses a real threat to Afghan people. Karzai accused NATO of searching for enemy in the wrong place and said NATO forces bombed people's homes and caused severe damages to civilians.
2014 is an important year for Afghanistan because NATO and US forces will withdraw from the country at the end of the year which creates concerns in the rest of the world. Secondly, in 2014, Afghan people will go to the polls to elect their next president. The western leaders claim the situation of Afghan security forces has advanced significantly. My first question will be how do you comment on the developments in 2014? What are your predictions?
Bismillahirahmanirahim.(In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful) For two reasons, first the withdrawal of foreign forces and the elections increase the importance of 2014 for Afghanistan. Afghan people must stand alone on issues like security and many others. These two developments will happen in less than two months. I am hopeful that Afghan people will overcome these two.
There are some concerns regarding Security Agreement which is now on the table and US gets more worried each day after it remain unsigned. Will you explain what is the real problem with the Agreement?
This problem has dominated our agenda for a quite long time. Afghan people welcomed the US and NATO when they came here to defeat Taliban and Al Qaeda. I was also one of them. We were hoing that these forces would bring peace, freedom and progress to this land. Their existence contributes much to Afghanistan. Today we have better roads, more money, stronger education, and a resilient health system. All of them have not been succeeded without foreign forces. But Afghans have a big role in achieving them. The main reason lying behind the Afghan support to these forces is the need for security and destruction of terrorism. This did not happen. Afghan people have lost many people in war against terrorism which was launched by US and its allies. Houses of Afghan people were bombed in this endeavor called the War against Terrorism and Afghans suffer much. The peace which is a priority for many nations including Afghanistan did not come. Afghanistan should be sure peace will be achieved in this country before signing Security Agreement with US or allowing US to have military base in its territory. I am aware that most of the Taliban members in Afghanistan is in favor of peace and want to return their country. People of Afghanistan want approval of Security Agreement but they also need peace and settlement. Thus US should ensure security before taking the control of military bases.
Are you saying the Agreement has not been signed since it would not bring about peace to the region?
The Security Agreement has no meaning for us, if US considers only benefiting military bases and does not care for peace in Afghanistan. If we do not have peace, what is the point in giving a US military base? If we would give them a base, they should assist us to kick off a settlement with the Afghan Taliban.
The Security Agreement suggests NATO forces would not be judged by an Afghan justice system. Do you see this as a problem? Is this the reasons preventing you from signing the Agreement? Or do you have any other reservation?
US forces' trial by American courts was previously approved in the Loya Jirga. This is not a drawback. This is clearly stated in the Agreement as well. There is one more thing the Jirga demands: Peace. the reasoning behind giving this concessions is a search for peace.
The Western point of view claims that the Taliban is the source of insecurity and instability. On the other hand, you suggest that the US and NATO have not sufficiently taken necessary steps for bringing peace to the country. Is this true?
The struggle against terrorism has not reduced to Afghans' villages and homes. The way they handle the issue is not correct. They should have targeted the homes and work places of those who supported terrorism and those who hold the same ideological line with terrorists. They are not among ordinary Afghan people.
This was the main problem with the US. It first began in 2003, gradually increased and finally reached its peak. Therefore, I am insisting on my stance that the US would only be given military bases if they bring peace to us. They cannot remain and utilize Afghanistan for the sake of "Fighting against the Taliban." Because this war is nor in Afghanistan neither among Afghan people, and Taliban members favoring peace are not those with whom we want to fight.
In a recent interview you said you have not communicated with US President Obama for a long time. Could you give some details on your personal relations and his role?
Afghanistan is our land. We must work for it. In any case we would do our best for Afghanistan. This is our responsibility. Protecting our country and our people is on our shoulders. The US has an interest and it defines this interest. If this interest is so important that makes the US stay in Afghanistan, they should ensure peace and security. We are ready to be their partner if this condition is fulfilled. I said partner. We will not have a boss-apprentice relationship with the US. In partnership there is bilateral respect and interests of both sides will be protected.
Peace talks with the Taliban which was a reaction against the US have become both countries' problem because the Taliban has spread to other countries. Let me get your perspective on the peace talks with Taliban.
We are supporting peace talks. But we are determined not to let other countries intervene in the domestic affairs of Afghanistan by turning these talks into a cover. Peace talks are an obligation that must be carried out. I recognize that Afghan Taliban gives support to peace talks. They are also Afghans who have a responsibility to their nation.
The eighth tripartite summit in Ankara is very important. Would you give some more details about its content and your perception on it?
Turkish and Afghan people have deep ties and Turkey is among Afghanistan's profound supporters. Especially in the period of Ataturk and Emanullah, the relations got stronger. During my presidency, relations continue to develop with enormous efforts of by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the President Abdullah Gul. Both bilateral meetings and tripartite summits that bring Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan are proven to contribute to foster these relations. These three countries have been friends and remain friends.
Nawaz Sharif's coming to power in Pakistan give some signs that a new period in relations with Afghanistan is emerging. Could you please tell us what has changed? Afghanistan-Pakistan relations are a combination of strong cultural ties and constant tensions.
The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and I have very good personal relations just like Erdogan and Gul. This makes me happy but we have to reach ultimate solutions. We are collaboratively working on peace and anti-terrorism. We have a long time for viable outcomes.
How do you consider the future of your country after the withdrawal of NATO and US forces? In regards to drone attacks, you seem more disturbed than Pakistan. Do you think drone attacks create problems in bilateral relations with Pakistan?
The border between these two countries were drawn by British in 1893. Although Afghan people have not recognized this border, they are in favor of good relations with Pakistan. I hope despite the diverse understanding towards the border issue, we will have stronger relations with Pakistan.
Drones have always been a trouble-causing killing of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Since the attacks have been held on the border, they effect both sides. What is your stance against drone attacks?
I stated it very clearly in the past. I am strongly against the drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a real threat against civilians. The US must suspend its drone attacks. This is wrong.
The elections are approaching. The campaigns have continued during last month. As you know, securty concerns remain intact. Despite the serious progress Afghan security forces experienced, they are still one step behind terrorists. How do you evaluate the security conditions in the country ahead of the elections in which 11 candidates compete?
The elections will take place on 5th April, and Afghan people will choose their president. After some time, predictably in May or June, I will hand over presidency to my successor. The elections are a significant step taken to the direction of a more stable Afghanistan. Our security forces are doing their job with many sacrifices. But the same thing happens in your country as well. There are officers who lost their lives for their country, so do Afghan security forces.
What are your plans after retirement? Will you support the new government? Will the new president will benefit of your experiences?
Whoever will win the elections, I will no doubt respect the Afghan people's choice. He will receive my support. I am always ready to extend my helping hand as a former president and an Afghan citizen, if he needs. I will give my full assistance to the new government.
Kuzey News AgencyGüncelleme Tarihi: 18 Şubat 2014, 11:18