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Turkey warns EU over fears of Afghan refugee wave

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday told the European Union to stick to past deals on migrants and refugees and aid neighboring countries as fears of a new exodus from Afghanistan mount, Agence France-Presse reported.

Rising numbers of Afghan migrants could present “a serious challenge for everyone”, Erdoğan said in a phone conversation with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of neighboring Greece.

Athens has already said it may send Afghans arriving on its shores back to Turkey, which it regards as a “safe” country for migrants.

Referring to a 2016 deal under which “irregular” migrants landing in the EU can be sent back to Turkey in exchange for aid, Erdoğan urged his neighbors to “sincerely live up to their commitments”.

Ankara has repeatedly accused EU capitals of failing to hold up their end of the bargain.

Now that it fears increased Afghan arrivals, Brussels should aid neighboring countries such as Iran to deal with any new mass movements of people, Erdogan said.

“A new wave of migration is inevitable if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and in Iran,” he told Mitsotakis.

Turkey had already spoken to Iran and was toughening up border security, Erdoğan added.

The Greek government said in a statement that “the two leaders discussed the necessity of supporting (Afghanistan’s) immediate neighbors so Afghans stay as close to home as possible”.

Faced with the dramatic Taliban takeover in Kabul, a number of European leaders have called for moves to prevent a repeat of the large numbers of people seeking refuge from Middle East conflicts who reached the EU via Turkey in 2015.

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