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Turkey urges Europe to update migration agreement

September 3, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Protest in support of Afghan refugees in New York, United States on 28 August 2021 [Tayfun Coşkun/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s Foreign Minister has said that his government will reject any European offer to keep Afghan refugees within the country in exchange for money, Anadolu has reported.

Mevlut Cavusoglu also stressed the need to update the migration agreement signed with the EU to include Syrian and Afghan asylum seekers.

Cavusoglu made his comments during a joint press conference yesterday with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag in Ankara. “Cooperation with EU partners,” he said, “is not possible if they believe that they will pay money for keeping Afghan refugees on our land.” In any case, he added, the EU has not complied with its commitments under the migration agreement it signed in 2016.

The update of the agreement, he suggested, should include the voluntary and dignified return of Afghans to their country if security and stability are established, and the return of Syrians to Syria safely. “Because this issue is getting more complicated over time, if it is a problem for the European Union, it is also a problem for Turkey.”

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The minister pointed out that Turkey had helped a number of countries in the evacuation of Kabul, fulfilling its “moral and humanitarian obligation” in this regard. Turkish airfields were used as refuelling points, he explained. “However, it is not possible for Afghans to be evacuated by any country and then kept in Turkey for any length of time. We said from the beginning that we would not accept such a suggestion.”

Although Ankara will provide the best possible support, it is unable to agree to keep the Afghans in Turkey, whether for examinations, for obtaining visas, or for other reasons.

Cavusoglu expressed Turkey’s desire to see order and stability in Afghanistan as soon as possible. For this, there is a need to complete the transitional process in a comprehensive manner and establish a viable authority in Afghanistan. He warned of the danger of famine, so the security of aid organisations is vital. “If the crisis worsens, there will be many developments that may threaten our region and beyond.”

Regarding the issue of security at Kabul Airport, the Turkish minister pointed to the need for coordination of the steps that must be taken in Afghanistan. It is not a task that Turkey or Qatar can undertake alone, he noted.

The Turkish official revealed that there have been requests from the Taliban and some other governments to cooperate with Turkey at Kabul Airport. The most important thing there, he added, is security. “Security must be established to reassure everyone. We have conveyed our thoughts about this to the Taliban.”

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