EU should make substantial migrant deal with Turkey: FM
Turkey has proposed the European Union a substantial migrant deal to ensure an efficient cooperation in tackling the growing migrant deal and told the bloc that it cannot exclude itself from this problem by solely offering money.
“On the issue of Afghan migrants, there will be no such cooperation if [the EU’s] approach would be based on ‘We give money and you keep them there’,” Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference with visiting Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag in Ankara on Sept. 1.
The two ministers held a bilateral meeting to discuss all the aspects of the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan which can trigger a new refugee influx towards the West. Çavuşoğlu, on a question, recalled that Turkey and the EU had brokered a migrant deal in 2016 for Syrian refugees who fled the country to Europe via Turkey.
“We have fulfilled our responsibility. The number of migrants trying to go to Europe decreased 95 percent. But the EU did not do its part,” Çavuşoğlu said, recalling that the two sides agreed in 2019 for the renewal of the deal.
According to the deal, the EU allocated six million euros for the Syrian refugees and the two sides have agreed to take measures to stem the irregular moves of the migrants from Turkey to Greece.
The EU, instead of renewing the deal, has unilaterally decided to allocate another three billion euros for the refugees, the minister said. “However, this is just a decision. We were in favor of holding discussions and agreeing in a more substantial way. The approach that stipulates ‘Let me give some money and you keep the refugees’ won’t work.”
The Turkish foreign minister urged the EU to abandon this approach when it comes to Afghan migrants as well. “The migration issue is growing. It’s a problem for our country and the EU. It’s a social and political problem and can be used for domestic political purposes. Therefore, instead of simple formulas, a realistic solution is required,” he stated.
‘Security main obstacle for airport’
On questions about the latest developments in Afghanistan, Çavuşoğlu explained that Turkey was in talks with all the relevant parties and described the problem as “not easy.” “International coordination is must to overcome it - for both extending help to Afghan people, taking a joint stance towards the to-be built administration and coordinating steps on the migration. This is not something Turkey and Qatar can handle alone,” he stressed.
On reopening the international airport in Kabul, Çavuşoğlu suggested that the airport could be first opened to military flights after repairing the runway so that the countries can evacuate the remaining persons who wish to leave Afghanistan.
“This can also be a test. Then for the resumption of commercial flights, we should wait until all the conditions are set. But who will take charge?,” he said, underlining that the conditions have completely changed since the Taliban’s takeover of the control. The Taliban and some countries proposed to Turkey to take charge of running the airport, he added.
“The most important difficulty is the security of the airport and surrounding areas. We have expressed it to the Taliban and they said they can handle it,” he said. The security of the airport and running all the technical stuff, like checking the luggage, controlling the passports and visas require a certain level of expertise so that commercial companies can feel secure, the minister said, recalling that there are many private companies who are doing all these things in the world.
'Turkey cannot handle new wave of migration'
In the meantime, the Turkish presidential spokesman and U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs on Sept. 1 discussed the current developments in Syria and Afghanistan, as Turkey stressed that it cannot handle a new wave of migration.
In a meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, İbrahim Kalın and Martin Griffiths discussed the humanitarian situation and aid issues in Syria and Afghanistan.
During the meeting, Turkey stressed that reaching a political solution is essential for ending the current humanitarian crisis in Syria, expressing satisfaction over the U.N. Security Council Resolution 2585, which ensures the continuation of cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria.
The importance of ensuring stability and peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan was highlighted, along with an emphasis that Turkey cannot handle a new wave of migration.
It was also emphasized that the international community should take responsibility urgently and decisively.
The sides agreed that Turkey and the U.N. should maintain close coordination to prevent humanitarian crises.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal also met with Griffiths in Ankara.
On Twitter, it said that the "satisfaction with the close and developing cooperation between Turkey and #OCHA has been confirmed" during their meeting.
"Turkey's efforts for the alleviation of humanitarian needs of Syrians were discussed and Turkey and U.N.'s joint work in this regard was reviewed. The importance of improving the humanitarian situation in Yemen and Afghanistan was also stressed," it added.