Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik said at a press conference on Thursday that Turkey has no room for even one more refugee, referring to the increased influx of Afghan refugees since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported.
“Those who see Turkey as a buffer zone or refugee camp to keep refugees out of their countries if crises in Afghanistan trigger a new wave of refugees are deluded. That will never happen,” Çelik said, slamming such approaches as inhuman and unpolitical.
Since the Taliban takeover, the number of Afghans fleeing the country has increased. In response, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace proposed a plan to set up hubs for Afghans in various countries in the region. “We will establish a series of processing hubs across the region outside Afghanistan for those Afghans we have an obligation to bring to this country,” he wrote in an article published in the Daily Mail on Aug. 21.
Although Wallace did not specifically name any country, news stories appearing in the British media referred to Pakistan and Turkey as the countries where these centers would be established. Turkish officials rejected the plan, stressing that Turkey cannot bear additional refugee burden.
Çelik said the situation in Afghanistan is Turkey’s hottest foreign policy issue, noting that Turkey evacuated 1,409 Turkish citizens on seven flights starting on Aug. 16.
Turkey had more than 500 non-combat troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now-abandoned mission in the war-torn country.
The Taliban takeover of Kabul had set off a wave of evacuations via the Kabul airport as many countries raced against time to evacuate their citizens as well as affiliated Afghans by the Aug. 31 deadline set by US President Joe Biden for the withdrawal of all US troops from the country.
Turkey had had provided security at Hamid Karzai International Airport for six years and had offered to keep its troops there after other NATO members pulled out, but its plans were thrown into disarray when the Taliban entered the Afghan capital. Turkey continued to express its hope to provide security at the airport as well as its readiness to discuss it with the Taliban.
“We’re closely monitoring the transition period. We have various diplomatic initiatives,” Çelik said, adding that they hope for a healthy transition that will put an end to the plight of the Afghan people.
The AKP spokesperson said they were in contact with the Taliban, conveying their views for the emergence of a comprehensive government and ensuring stability across the country.
Regarding women’s rights and fundamental rights and freedoms, Çelik indicated that they hope all concerns in this regard stemming from past practices will be eliminated.
Turkey, which hosts some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, is currently faced with an increasing number of Afghan nationals attempting to enter the country through Iran after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital Kabul last week. Between 500 and 1,000 Afghans are estimated to have arrived in Turkey each day since early July, according to Turkish media reports.