Turkey not Afghan refugees’ safe haven: Erdoğan
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks after a five-hour cabinet meeting at the Presidential Complex, Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 19, 2021 (AA Photo)

Turkey not Afghan refugees’ safe haven: Erdoğan

“Turkey does not have any obligation whatsoever to be a safe haven for Afghan refugees,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late Thursday after a five-hour cabinet meeting at Ankara’s Presidential Complex, as the Taliban solidified their grasp on Afghanistan, prompting a refugee wave.

Addressing the public concerns regarding a possible refugee wave, Erdoğan also said that Turkey would ensure the refugees’ safe return.

“It is our obligation to Turkish citizens to ensure the refugees’ safe return to their home countries,” he said.

Erdoğan also dismissed claims by the opposition that Turkey is hosting 1.5 million Afghan refugees.

The president also affirmed his country’s commitment to Afghanistan’s “stability and security” and said Ankara could hold talks with the new government.

“We will meet with the government formed by the Taliban if necessary and discuss our mutual agendas,” Erdoğan said.

The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control of the presidential palace in Kabul. In the aftermath, Western nations scrambled Monday to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport as frantic Afghans searched for a way out.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Sunday, “The Taliban have won with the judgment of their swords and guns, and are now responsible for the honor, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,” after fleeing the country as the militants entered the capital virtually unopposed, saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed. The ensuing hours saw hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave flood Kabul airport.

“Today is a great day for the Afghan people and the mujahedeen. They have witnessed the fruits of their efforts and their sacrifices for 20 years,” Mohammad Naeem, the spokesperson for the Taliban’s political office, told Qatar-based media outlet Al-Jazeera TV. “Thanks to God, the war is over in the country,” he said.

It took the Taliban just over a week to seize control of the country after a lightning sweep that ended in Kabul as government forces, trained for two decades and equipped by the United States and others at the cost of billions of dollars, melted away.

This article originally appeared in DAILY SABAH on 19 August 2021.