Turkey cannot bail out the EU by taking in Afghans who worked for Western countries in Afghanistan as the Taliban take power there, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
“We have received a request to welcome local employees of a European Union mission in Afghanistan,” a government statement quoted Erdogan as saying to European Council President Charles Michel in a telephone call.
“The member states do not open their doors even to a tiny portion of the people who served them and who are in difficulty,” the statement quoted him as saying.
“You cannot expect Turkey to take on the responsibility of third countries,” he said.
The head of state reiterated, the day after similar remarks during a conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, that Turkey was already hosting around five million refugees and “cannot support an additional migratory burden.”
Michel for his part confirmed on Twitter that he had discussed the unfolding situation in Afghanistan with Erdogan, describing it as a “common challenge for Turkey and the EU.”
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday urged all countries, especially European countries, to take in some Afghan refugees.
Erdogan had on Saturday noted that the EU has yet to honor a 2016 accord aimed at halting the flow of migrants to Europe.
He said it was “unrealistic” for the EU to expect Turkey to take on more migrants as long as the 2016 accord has not been fully implemented.