Turkey cannot take new refugee ‘burden’ from Afghanistan, says FM

Mevlut Cavusoglu says Europe would also be affected by a wave of Afghan refugees following the Taliban’s takeover.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, meets his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Antalya, Turkey [Turkish Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters]

Turkey cannot take the burden of a new migrant wave from Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said after talks with his German counterpart, as concerns about a new migrant wave remain after the Taliban’s takeover.

“As Turkey, we have sufficiently carried out our moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding migration,” Cavusoglu said, speaking in a joint news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Sunday.

“It is out of the question for us to take an additional refugee burden,” Cavusoglu said.

The events in Afghanistan have fuelled worries in the European Union of a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis, wherein nearly a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond crossed to Greece from Turkey before travelling north to wealthier states.

To stem the flow of refugees, the EU reached an agreement with Turkey in 2016 for it to host Syrians fleeing the war in their country in return for billions of euros for refugee projects.

Cavusoglu said Europe, as well as regional countries, would also be affected if migration from Afghanistan turns into a crisis and that lessons should be learned from the Syrian refugee crisis.

Turkey currently hosts 3.7 million Syrian refugees, the world’s largest refugee population, in addition to about 300,000 Afghans. It has been reinforcing measures along its eastern border to prevent crossings in anticipation of a new migrant wave from Afghanistan.

Maas said Germany was grateful to Turkey for its offer to help run Kabul airport after NATO’s withdrawal and said Germany was ready to support that financially and technically.

“It is in our own interests to ensure that the collapse in Afghanistan does not destabilise the entire region,” he said in a statement.

Maas is on a trip to Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Qatar to show Germany’s support for the countries most likely to suffer the fallout of the crisis in Afghanistan.

Turkey’s neighbour Greece has completed a 40km fence and surveillance system to keep out migrants who still manage to enter Turkey and try to reach the EU states.

Source: Reuters