By Vugar Khalilov
Retired Turkish General Ihsan Bashbozkurt has ruled out mass migration of Afghans to Turkey amid the ongoing political crisis in Afghanistan, saying that the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, which started in 2011 and ended in 2015 due to the war in Syria, will not be experienced in Afghanistan.
In an interview with Yeni Safak newspaper on August 2, Bashbozkurt said that “paranoia” in Turkey over possible migration of Afghanistan are baseless, given the geographical distance between the two countries as well as Ankara’s experience in protecting its borders.
Reminding that Turkey has many years of experience in border security, Bashbozkurt said that the highest level of border security has been ensured with the modern systems installed along Turkey’s borders in recent years.
“Physical security systems have been reinforced with walls, and with the use of modern equipment such as mini and tactical UAVs, electro-optical, thermal camera, day and night vision, motion-sensitive systems more effective protection has been ensured at the border,” he said.
Bashbozkurt added that along with its borders, Turkey has to ensure the security of neighboring countries. Condemning Iran’s insincerity on this matter, the former general criticized the neighboring countries for not taking relevant measures to prevent smugglers, asylum seekers, refugees and especially members of the PKK terrorist organization from entering to Turkey.
Bashbozkurt reminded that although necessary precautions have been taken with physical security systems in Agri and Igdir regions, where the Iranian border is flat, the very high and difficult terrain in the regions of Van near the Hakkari border is a complicating factor.
Explaining that the Iranian border line is in no way similar to the Syrian border with its geographical difficulties, Bashbozkurt said: “The harsh geographical and climatic conditions of the Iran-Iraq border cannot be compared with the Syrian border. Likewise, the situation of refugees and asylum seekers, which started in 2011 and ended in 2015 due to the war in Syria, will never be experienced in Afghanistan”.
He stressed that it is almost impossible to cross into Turkey illegally at an altitude of 3,000, in the spring and winter months when the temperature drops to minus 40 in the mountains and deep valleys.
Bashbozkurt stressed that the situation in Afghanistan cannot be compared to that in Syria where people had to flee Assad’s bombs and ISIS’s terror attacks. He noted that Turkey would have been stigmatized for not respecting human rights and international law by rejecting the refugees from Syria.
As to the task taken by Turkey to defend Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan, Bashbozkurt said: “We cannot turn our backs on the people of Afghanistan.”
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