Turkey can control the influx of migrants fleeing AfghanistanTurkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned on Sunday as foreign governments made efforts to evacuate their citizens and high-risk Afghans from the Taliban-run country.
“As Turkey, we have sufficiently carried out our moral and humanitarian responsibilities regarding migration,” Cavusoglu said at a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
“It is out of the question that we take on an additional refugee burden,” said Cavusoglu in Turkey’s southern Antalya province.
Turkey is home to the largest number of refugees in the world, including more than 3.7 million registered Syrians who received protection from their decade-long civil war. With more than 300,000 Afghans already make up the second largest refugee population in Turkey.
Since 2016, the European Union has provided billions of euros in exchange for Ankara preventing European refugees from leaving Turkish borders.
But in recent years public attitude towards refugees have soured in Turkey. Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assured the public: “Turkey has no obligation whatsoever to be a safe haven for Afghan refugees.”
Amid wave of Afghan refugees, Turkish Border Police has stepped up surveillance and deportations along the country’s southern border border. Neighboring Greece has built a 40-kilometer (25 mi) fence to deter Afghans who have fled their country.
Cavusoglu’s comments come as Turkey has completed the evacuation of its more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Despite Turkish forces withdrawing before Tuesday’s deadline, the Taliban have reportedly enlisted Turkey’s assistance in operating Hamid Karzai International Airport in the capital.
Turkey, NATO’s only Muslim-majority member, is still considering the request. Erdogan said on Sunday that his country would maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, but cast doubt on the Taliban’s airport proposal.
“How would we explain it to the world if you take over security and there’s another massacre? This is not an easy job,” Erdogan said.
The affiliate of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, ISIS-K, on Thursday claimed responsibility for a couple of deadly bombings outside the airport. The death toll has risen to at least 169 Afghans and 13 US service members.