Full Transcript of President Karzai’s Interview with Turkish State Radio Television (TRT)

February 12, 2014

Ankara, Turkey

TRT CORRESPONDENT:

Excellency, thank you so much for joining our program, we are honored, which is, we know it was a very busy schedule but you gave us a time.

Excellency, almost every year, you are visiting the country because this meeting is very important for your country, our country and your neighbor Pakistan.

President KARZAI:

Yes!

CORRESPONDENT:

Excellency, in the beginning about 2014, it is a very important year for Afghanistan because first foreign troops, of course, NATO and US troops withdrawing at the end of the year which is a main concern now around the world but also secondly elections are on the way, I mean, many things are happening and also except on the side of the Western media, there is also progress made on security especially Afghan forces, my first question is, please share with us your views on what would be the expectation of the Afghan people and of yourself from this year?

President KARZAI:

بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

2014 is indeed a very important year for Afghanistan for two reasons; one reason is that in 2014, Afghanistan will see the withdrawal of the majority of the foreign troops from Afghanistan whereby the Afghan people will be looking after their own country in its defense, in its security and in all other aspects. Second reason is equally important, it is the Presidential elections and the provincial councils elections in Afghanistan. This two is going to be in less than two months time therefore it is an important year and I am very confident, in shaa Allah (if Allah is willing) that both these events, these processes will happen successfully.

CORRESPONDENT:

On this point, there is a concern about the BSA and it is now on table, the US side is concerned about the situation that the BSA is not signed yet, can you tell us what is the real problem and why this problem became the main issue between the two countries right now?

President KARZAI:

This is an issue that has been lingering for a long time. When the United States and NATO came to Afghanistan in 2002 in order to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban from Afghanistan, the Afghan people welcomed them whole-heartedly, I was one of those people helping them together with all other Afghans with the hope that the arrival of these troops will bring security to Afghanistan, freedom to Afghanistan and progress to Afghanistan. Now the international community’s presence in Afghanistan has brought some good to the country, we have better roads, we have more money available in the country, we have better education, we have better health services, all of this would not have been possible without the assistance of the international community, of course, the Afghans also did a lot to make this possible, to make it happen. The one most important thing that was the main reason behind the support of the Afghan people for the international community was security in Afghanistan and defeating terrorism in Afghanistan, this did not come, the Afghan people paid an extremely heavy price in the fight against terrorism that was launched by the international community, rather I should say by the United States and its allies, in this fight taking place in the name of war on terror, Afghan homes were bombarded, Afghan civilians suffered, Afghan people died, peace which was the prerequisite for Afghanistan, which is as a matter of fact a prerequisite for all societies to live peacefully and to live and enjoy life, has not come to Afghanistan. Now, for Afghanistan to give bases to America or to agree to a security agreement with the United States and with NATO, we must be sure that these arrangements that we make with the United States and the NATO, will bring peace to Afghanistan. I know that a great number of Afghan Taliban who are willing to have peace, are willing to come back to their country, so while Afghans want a security arrangement with the West and America, they are also very much in need of peace and are seeking peace therefore the United States must help Afghanistan gain peace before they have the bases.

CORRESPONDENT:

So, are you Excellency saying that the bilateral security agreement doesn’t give any peace for the region, that’s why this is not agreed?

President KARZAI:

If the Security agreement means bases for America and no peace for us, then it is of no use to us, why should we give bases to America where we cannot have peace. In return for the bases, we want and that is what I have said publicly and clearly also in the Loya Jirga of Afghanistan, the United States must help us together with Pakistan launch a peace process with the Afghan Taliban.

CORRESPONDENT:

Excellency, please correct me if I am wrong, in my seeing Afghanistan which is I was there, I was watching the situation, there is immense civilian casualties on the screen. You are always mentioning it in all your speeches but in the security agreement which is that not give any chance to Afghan government or the Afghan local judicial system to take any action against the NATO troops or security, is this the part your disagreement on the problem or part of the agreement? Can you specifically explain to us?

President KARZAI:

Yes, the judicial authority of the United States over its forces has been agreed by the Afghan Loya Jirga, so there is no problem there, while the Afghans have agreed that the United States can have the transfer of judicial authority to their own forces in case of incidents in Afghanistan, the Afghans are seeking peace, so judicial authority is no problem, the Loya Jirga has agreed to the transfer of judicial authority within Afghanistan to the US forces, that has been agreed and that is clearly stated in the document of the Jirga or in the decision of the Jirga as well. What the Jirga also asked and what the Afghan people asked for was that the presence of the United States and NATO, while having all these privileges in Afghanistan, must bring to the Afghan people, peace and security, in return for that, the Afghan people then will agree to give them judicial freedoms on their own troops and the presence in Afghanistan of their troops in a limited number and a number of bases.

CORRESPONDENT:

But the view of the West is that the security problems are caused by the Taliban but you are saying, please correct me if I am wrong, that the NATO and US forces didn’t do any proper work of bringing peace, is that right or it is something else?

President KARZAI:

Yes, yes, as you have heard me in the past many years, the war on terror was never to be found in the Afghan villages and homes in the first place, so all along I have been saying that the manner in which America and NATO conducted the war on terror in Afghanistan was wrong, they should have gone to the sanctuaries, to the financial resources of terrorism, to the training grounds of terrorism, to the ideological motivators of terrorism and those were not in Afghan villages or Afghan population, not in Afghan children, not in Afghan women, therefore this was a strong disagreement between us and the United States from the very beginning, beginning from 2003 to 2004 onwards, it kept increasing and increasing, increasing and increasing where it came to a boiling point and that is why I insisted that in return for the bases, the United States must bring peace to Afghanistan meaning that they should not, that they cannot continue operating in Afghanistan in the name of fighting the Taliban because that fight is not in Afghanistan, that fight is not in Afghan people and those Taliban who want peace are not the ones that we must fight against.

CORRESPONDENT:

You mentioned right now that a year by year, it is increasing now, recently you gave an interview and excellency you mentioned that you don’t have any contact with President Obama in the recent time, can you talk about your relations with him right now, what is his position, especially in his last speech, in the nation speech, he was mentioning that maybe we will pull out all troops and NATO will pull out all the troops back, if this happen also, are you ready to continue the security problems in the country?

President KARZAI:

Well, Afghanistan is the country of Afghans, it is our country, we have to look after our country and our life with our means, now if tomorrow the United States decides to leave Afghanistan with or without the BSA, should we also leave our country? No, we will provide for our country in any circumstances like you provide for your good country and live in Turkey under any circumstances or any other country, so the Afghan people, it is our responsibility, it is upon us as afghans to provide for the security and protection of our country and of our people. The United States has an interest, that interest, the United States can define itself if that interest is important enough for them to stay in Afghanistan whatever that interest is, then in return, Afghans need security and peace and in that condition, with the provision of peace and security to Afghanistan, we are willing to be great partners with them but partners, not master and subject, not master and subject, partners, partnership has different parameters, in partnership, both sides are respected, the life of both sides is respected, the laws of both sides are respected and the interests of both sides are taken care of and respected.

CORRESPONDENT:

And now on the Taliban, in 2010 your government started peace talks and then there was a reaction, and then recently again you faced a problem because of the Taliban opening office in other countries, what is the situation now in regard to Afghan peace talks and what will be the future because like we mentioned this year is very crucial, what will happen?

President KARZAI:

There is a clear difference between peace talks and manipulation of the Afghan situation in the name of peace talks, we want peace talks but we don’t want and we will not allow any foreign power to manipulate Afghanistan’s political situation or geographic situation in the name of peace talks, peace talks is a necessity, it has to take place, it must happen today or tomorrow, I know the Afghan Taliban want peace talks, they are also Afghans, their sons of our soil as well, they have rights and responsibilities as well towards Afghanistan, I hope they understand that sooner and begin to talk to their fellow Afghans the Afghan government and the Peace Council as soon as possible.

CORRESPONDENT:

And my last question is, it is very important meeting that you will soon be conducting after a couple of hours, you are meeting with Turkish President and also Pakistan’s Prime Minister, I mean, it is the 8th summit, can you express your feelings because you also made a lot of efforts for this meeting and what will be this meeting’s topics? Also, if you look back in 8 different meetings, what has happened differently, it is different right now?  And what is the Turkish people’s role in Afghanistan in your message?

President KARZAI:

Well, the Turkish people have a grand, old, deep relationship with Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan, Turkey is Afghanistan’s closest friend for centuries, especially from the time of Amanullah Khan and Kemal Atatürk, this friendship strengthened and deepened and in the past 12 years when I was the President of Afghanistan, this friendship with Turkey also deepened further, cemented further, deepened further, President Gül and Prime Minister Erdogan both have contributed to this friendship bilaterally between us and also by hosting meetings between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Ankara, in Istanbul eight times now with an intention to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and to make ready an environment  whereby peace can come to both countries, where terrorism can vanish, hopefully be defeated in both countries, where the three countries together Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be friends and will prosper in trade and business and commercial activity.

CORRESPONDENT:

As I said earlier, your business is very important, and I would like to continue if you would allow me again

President KARZAI:

Please!

CORRESPONDENT:

This is meeting is also with Pakistan which is your long-border neighbor and recently it was some problems between two countries, or because of again the same problem terrorist attacks but now after the Nawaz Sharif’s government came in power, there is a new era, I can say that we will say that, can you describe to us right now what has changed in the relations between the two countries? It is always friendly, but on the border side sometimes there is tension going on, can you talk about the current situation right now please?

President KARZAI:

My relationship with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is excellent, the rapport between the two of us personally is very, very good, just like my rapport or relationship is good with President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan, the same is my relationship with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and that is of satisfaction to me but where we need to work towards the substantial, result-oriented relationship, especially where the peace and the war on terror is concerned, we need a lot more to come our way in a positive way.

CORRESPONDENT:

After the withdrawal of NATO and US troops, what do you see the future relationship between the two countries because it is also important, you are always mentioning the Durand line is not our concern because you are not recognizing this line but the Pakistan side has a different view, so do you think, Excellency, in the future, again this will become a problem between the two countries after the NATO/US withdrawal?

President KARZAI:

Well, the Durand line was drawn by the British imperial rule in 1893 and since then the Afghan people have not recognized the Durand line but the Afghan people all along since the creation of Pakistan try to be friends with Pakistan and have relations with Pakistan, we have commerce and people to people relationship with Pakistan, I hope that in spite of the differences of view on the Durand line that we have, that relations between the two countries will grow, that the two nations will see better days and prosperous lives.

CORRESPONDENT:

Also the drone attacks was a concern for the Pakistan side, also as you mentioned the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, civilian casualties happen on the side of the border too, do you as two leaderships have the same view on drone attacks, it must be stopped or you have a different view?

President KARZAI:

I have said this very clearly in the past as well, I am very strongly, very, very strongly against drone attacks in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, this is a source of serious trouble for the civilian population in both countries where they are victims, so the United States should stop the drone attacks, it is wrong.

CORRESPONDENT:

And the election of course, I want to ask my last question now.

President KARZAI:

Please!

CORRESPONDENT:

Just one more month, the campaigns are already underway but security is always remains the main concern, also there is progress for the Afghan troops and police forces, but also they have heavy casualties during the fight and we know, in last decade NATO troops lost three thousand troops in the field but last year almost three thousand Afghan forces and police, men died on the duty, your Excellency is always mentioning in your speeches that Afghan forces and police are strong and we will take over the responsibilities, there is no problem on that, election will not see a security problem?  So, there are many candidates right now.

President KARZAI:

Yes, eleven candidates.

CORRESPONDENT:

What is your view on the election, I mean, of course it is a democratic move and is always great and colorful, I hope there is no violence by then, there were Taliban threats in 2009, what is the situation right now?

President KARZAI:

We will have elections, in spite of the possibility of violence, we will definitely have the elections on the 5th of April where the Afghan people will go to vote for their candidate, and that will be a great day for Afghanistan, where the Afghan people will be choosing a new President, where then some time later, in May or June, I will be delivering to the next Afghan President, that will be a great success for Afghanistan, that will be a step forward for stability in Afghanistan, so come what may in terms of security, the Afghan people will go and vote, yes, the Afghan people, the Afghan security forces have sacrificed tremendously, tremendously with valor, with courage, with selflessness and the Afghan people appreciate that, they are the sons of this country, so just like your sons and daughters sacrifice their lives for Turkey so should the Afghan youth and they are doing it, they are, we are sad they are losing life but they are happy defending their country.

CORRESPONDENT:

And after the retirement, what are you plans, will you be supporting the new government?

President KARZAI:

Yes!

CORRESPONDENT:

And you are experienced, what are your plans for future?

President KARZAI:

Whoever is elected as the President of Afghanistan by the Afghan people, will have my support, my full support and when he asks me to give him an advice, I will be available to give him an advice, I will be an ex-President, a citizen of Afghanistan but always available for advice and will be fully behind the new President and the new government.

CORRESPONDENT:

Thank you so much, Excellency! It was an honor to make this interview with you, thank you so much!

President KARZAI:

Thank you, sir! Very nice of you!