Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

President Erdogan tells Europe leaders Turkey ‘has no responsibility’ for Afghan migrants

Turkey 'is not Europe's refugee warehouse' says Erdogan

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held meetings with European leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council President Charles Michel stressing Turkey will not be held responsible for any more migrants. Mr Erdogan highlighted Turkey’s role in homing more than five million Syrian and other refugees and demanded European leaders do more to prepare for a potential influx of Afghan migrants in the coming months. It comes as he ordered Turkish authorities to construct a three-metre high concrete wall along its border with Iran to block migrants coming into Turkey. He also ramped up the Turkish military presence along the border.

Mr Erdogan said at a press conference on Monday: “Turkey has no duty, responsibility or obligation to be Europe’s refugee warehouse.”

He added: “Member states opened their doors to only a small portion of the people who had served them and were in a difficult situation.

“That the issue could not be overcome with such symbolic steps.”

The Turkish leader went on to say that Turkey could not be expected to take on the “international responsibilities of third countries”.

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And in a tweet on Monday, Mr Erdogan warned that he places the “peace” of Turkey at the top of a list of priorities.

He said: “We conduct intensive international diplomacy regarding developments in Afghanistan and irregular migration. 

“We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure stability in our region, to protect our country against immigration pressure.

“And to safeguard the peace of our nation.”

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During a meeting on Sunday, President Erdogan also spoke with European Council president Charles Michel around plans for Turkey to join the European Union’s defence and security project known as PESCO.

PESCO, which stands for Permanent Structured Cooperation was started in 2017 and is part of teh European Union’s plans for closer and more structural integration of the majority of the Bloc’s armed forces.

According to Euronews, Mr Erdogan reportedly insisted the changing situation in Afghanistan was a reason for Turkey to be involved in PESCO.

The Turkish President also made strong demands that negotiations around Turkey’s application to join the European Union are restarted with immediate effect.

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It is unknown how many Afghan’s will flee the country and attempt to enter Turkey and Europe.

But figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 3.5 million Afghans are currently internally displaced within Afghanistan.

The surge in numbers trying to leave comes on top of the 2.2 million refugees already in nearby countries.

Pakistan and Iran saw the highest numbers of Afghanistan’s refugees and asylum seekers arrive in 2020 as nearly 1.5 million fled to Pakistan while 780,000 went to Iran, according to UNHCR.

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