Turkey steps up reconstruction assistance to Afghanistan
Turkey yesterday launched its second reconstruction team in Afghanistan, a sign of Ankara's continued commitment to assist Afghan authorities with reconstruction efforts and to help enhance development and stability in the war-torn country. The official opening of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the northern province of Jowzjan came a day after a major international conference in Kabul endorsed plans for Afghan forces to be in charge of security by 2014. "This is a very good beginning between friends. The Turkish-Afghan friendship has deep historical roots, and it will always endure," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during the opening ceremony in Sheberghan, Jowzjan's capital. "Serving Afghanistan is no different than serving Turkey," Davutoglu added, adding that his own family's roots lie in Greater Khorasan, a historic region that covered parts of modern-day Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Turkey, a key contributor to international efforts to help reconstruction in Afghanistan following a nine-year war with the Taliban and other insurgent groups, has opened 34 schools and a hospital in northern Afghanistan, Davutoglu also said, pledging that these efforts will continue. The Turkish PRT in Jowzjan will assist Afghan authorities' efforts in the development and training of Afghan personnel, including security personnel, to improve their capacity to deal with day-to-day challenges. The Jowzjan PRT is built on the same model used in Turkey's existing PRT in the province of Wardak. That PRT, led by a civilian and protected by military forces, has been functioning since 2006. More than 30 PRTs function across Afghanistan.