Turkish foreign minister rules out any EU migration deal limited to financial assistance

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday Turkey would not agree on a new migration deal with the European Union that is limited to financial assistance in return for Turkey hosting refugees, according to local media.

Çavuşoğlu also said during a press conference with Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag that Turkey will not be hosting refugees from Afghanistan who have been evacuated by other countries.

“We cannot cooperate with the EU if their understanding is that Turkey will host refugees in return for financial assistance,” he said. “The existing migration deal needs to be updated to include the safe repatriation of Afghans and Syrians when their countries’ security and stability have been ensured.”

On March 18, 2016 the European Council and Turkey reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration via Turkey to Europe. According to the EU-Turkey deal, all new irregular migrants and asylum seekers arriving from Turkey in the Greek islands and whose applications for asylum had been declared inadmissible are returned to Turkey. The EU pledged €3 billion for 2016-2017 and another €3 billion for 2018-2019 to Turkey as its part of the deal.

According to UNHCR, Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide. The country is currently home to some 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees, along with close to 320,000 persons of concern from other nationalities.

The number of Afghans crossing into Turkey is also on the rise. In order to fend of illegal migrants the Turkish government has been building a wall on its border with Iran.

Çavuşoğlu said the migration deal had been used by racist factions in Europe to keep refugees out and that the millions of refugees in Turkey had become a social and political problem.

Turkey’s foreign ministry has repeatedly said Turkey does not have the capacity to shoulder another migration crisis.

The ministry called the United States “irresponsible” earlier this month after the Biden administration announced it would expand efforts to assist at-risk Afghan citizens with the major caveat that the adjudication process would take months in a third country.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç the US statement had suggested Turkey as an application spot “without consultation.”

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