No ‘We give the money, keep the Afghans’

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Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu both addressed messages to the European Union regarding Afghan refugees and discussed measures to be taken for the operation of Kabul airport. During the joint press conference held in Ankara with his Dutch counterpart, Sigrid Kaag, Çavuşoğlu briefly answered the question of whether the immigration talks between Turkey and the EU and whether the offer of aid from 3 billion euros from the EU to Turkey would include the Afghans:


“In 2016, we concluded an agreement with the EU on migration. As Turkey, we have done our part and the number of immigrants going to European countries has decreased by 95%. Unfortunately, the EU has not fulfilled its obligations. We have agreed to update the joint statement of this memorandum. We shared our thoughts on the update with the EU within a month. The EU did not come back to us even after a year. The EU was in the ‘Now there’s a COVID outbreak anyway, let’s not rush it’. We did not discriminate at all in what Greece sent. There were Afghans and Syrians. We took 2,000 people, the EU took 20,000 of us. The EU took the unilateral decision to give Turkey 3 billion euros. We have to sit down, discuss, negotiate and come to an agreement. Let’s move on to the question of whether Afghans should be included in this. If there is a situation like “We give money, keep the Afghans, they will not come”, this cooperation will not be possible. We need to update the agreement to cover many issues, including the safe return of Syrians to their country. This problem is growing. Just as it is a problem for the EU, it is also a social and political problem for Turkey. The opposition uses it. The EU must let go of the mentality that we can overcome with simple formulas like “We will give money and this will be resolved”.


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Çavuşoğlu suggested a two-step formula for operating Kabul airport and said: “The measures to be taken must be coordinated together. It is not for Turkey or Qatar alone to attack. The solution could be twofold: One for military flights. With the elimination of the problem on the runways, it can be used for the evacuation of military aircraft. Thus, the situation at the airport can be tested. Then, the requirements of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) must be met for commercial flights. Who will take the responsibility here? There are requests from the Taliban and some countries to cooperate with us. Security inside and outside the airport must be established in a way that gives confidence to internationals and guarantees the safety of all. We passed them on to the Taliban. There are companies specializing in this field. The necessary measures must be taken in such a way that everyone can have confidence, with regard to the scanning of suitcases, the passage of people through the devices and the control of passports and visas. ”

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