British minister denies claims of establishing refugee hubs in Turkey
British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace has denied reports by the British media that there are plans of establishing “processing hubs” hubs in Turkey for Afghans fleeing from the Taliban, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu criticized the Turkish opposition for giving credit to speculation and attacking the government.
Ben Wallace reacted to a story by The Times late Aug. 23 on Twitter saying, “The story has no basis at all - total speculation! We said we would ‘establish a series of processing hubs across the region.’ You spin that to be a regional hub in Turkey!!!”
Wallace, in an opinion piece printed in the Mail on Sunday, suggested alternative options for sheltering the Afghan nationals fleeing their country in the regional countries. The British media argued that Turkey and Pakistan will be those countries where “processing hubs” will be established, a claim that was immediately denied by Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu, at a press conference with visiting Uruguay Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, repeated that this news was utterly wrong and baseless. “The media reports are completely false, the statements mentioned in the report were not stated,” Çavuşoğlu said.
“We have made a statement, and we told that we did not receive such a request from any country and that should such a request comes we will not accept it in any way,” he stressed.
The foreign minister slammed the Turkish opposition for trying to launch a smear campaign against the government and the Foreign Ministry through an incorrect piece of news, saying, “It’s very sad to see the Turkish opposition in such a situation. The opposition accepted this as real and attacked our country and ministry. Plus, they issued statements against the British government. Turkish opposition should not be in such a situation.”
The claims were also rejected by Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. “The British defense secretary did not talk about either Turkey or Pakistan. Such a thing was not discussed in the article penned by him, nor is it possible,” Akar told the state-run Anadolu Agency following the meeting, citing a guest op-ed by Wallace, who indeed made no mention of either Turkey or Pakistan.
1,404 persons evacuated from Afghanistan
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu also informed about the ongoing evacuations from Afghanistan and the latest developments in the country. A total of 1,404 persons of which 1,061 are Turkish nationals were evacuated from the country and there are still 200 persons willing to be brought back home, Çavuşoğlu said. There are around 4,500 Turks in Afghanistan but most of them want to remain in the country, he informed.
Turkey remains in dialogue with all the relevant parties and in coordination with other allies for the evacuation from the country, the minister stated.
“Our wish is that peace and stability in Afghanistan will be permanently established within the framework of democracy and human rights. If steps are to be taken in this direction, we, as Turkey, will give our best support. I would like to say that we are in contact with all parties, not just with a particular group,” he added.