On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan affirmed his country’s commitment to Afghanistan’s “stability and security” and expressed that Ankara could hold talks with the new Taliban government.
The Turkish president indicated: “We will meet with the government formed by the Taliban if necessary, and discuss our mutual agendas,” after a five-hour cabinet meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara.
On Sunday, the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital Kabul, thus forcing former President Ashraf Ghani and other top government officials to leave the country.
Erdogan stated that 500 Turkish citizens along with 83 foreign nationals were brought to Turkey upon the rising number of requests, noting that there still are 5,000 Turkish citizens residing in Afghanistan for various reasons.
“We will transfer our citizens, who are still waiting in line for their return, whose number is below 300, to our country as soon as possible,” he added.
Erdoğan further dismissed claims by the opposition that Turkey is hosting 1.5 million Afghan refugees. The Turkish president underlined: “Turkey has no duty, responsibility, or obligation to be Europe’s refugee storehouse.”
With regards to irregular migrants, Erdoğan stated that at least 235,000 Afghans have been sent back to their country. Furthermore, he also said that nearly 450,000 Syrians in Turkey have returned back to regions liberated from terrorist elements in the country.
Especially for asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution, Turkey has been a key transit point for those wanting to cross into Europe to start new lives. The country, which already hosts 4 million refugees from various countries, is taking new security measures within and on borders to prevent a fresh influx of migrants.