Turkish foreign minister rules out migration deal with EU limited to financial assistance for Turkey’s hosting of refugees
ANKARA (AA) – The international community must take joint action to deal with a possible migration flow from Afghanistan, where the Taliban have recently taken power, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday.
Mevlut Cavusoglu made these remarks addressing a press conference with his Dutch counterpart Sigrid Kaag in Turkey’s capital Ankara.
Responding to a question on whether a renewed migration deal with the EU would include Afghans, he said that any migration deal with the bloc that is limited only to financial assistance in return for Turkey hosting refugees would not be acceptable.
Cavusoglu noted that Turkey did not “differentiate” between irregular migrants sent back from Greece as part of an existing 2016 migration deal between the bloc and Ankara, underlining that migrants sent back also included Afghan nationals.
“On the matter of the Afghans, a cooperation with an understanding that ‘we’re paying, so keep the Afghans in your country’ is not acceptable. We’ve been saying from the beginning that we will not accept such an offer,” he said, adding that Afghan refugees must be able to return to their country voluntarily and in a dignified way once safety and stability is established in Afghanistan.
Noting that an updated migration deal must include the issue of a safe return for both Afghan and Syrian refugees to their respective countries, the Turkish minister said: “This issue is continuing to worsen, creating problems. If it’s a problem for the EU, then it’s problem for Turkey, too.”
He further noted that following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul earlier this month, Turkey aided various countries in their efforts to evacuate their nationals from the war-torn country. He added that Turkey had “more than fulfilled” its moral and humanitarian responsibilities.
Citing the 2016 migration deal, Cavusoglu said Turkey had also done its part under this agreement, but that the EU had failed to fulfill its responsibilities.
According to Cavusoglu, the EU did not respond to Turkey’s proposal on updating the deal, and instead pledged fresh funds of €3 billion ($3.6 billion) to support refugees in Turkey.
He was referring to an announcement by European Commission President Ursula von de Leyen, who said on June 25 following a summit of EU leaders that in the future, “we plan to allocate an additional €3 billion to support refugees in Turkey, until 2024.”
The deal was signed on March 18, 2016, as the Syrian civil war continued to uproot millions who then began their “journey of hope” to reach the EU.
The agreement contained six key points: the reinvigoration of Ankara’s EU ascension process, the modernization of their Customs Union, revival of high-level dialogue, visa liberalization for Turkish nationals, cooperation in managing migration flows and counter-terrorism.
Turkey — which already hosts 4 million refugees, more than any country in the world — is taking new security measures on its borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.