Published: 2021-08-22 09:39
Last Updated: 2021-10-16 03:05
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday that his country cannot bear the "extra burden of immigration" from Afghanistan following the Taliban's seizure of power.
Erdogan told Merkel that "a new wave of immigration is inevitable if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and Iran," stressing that "Turkey, which already receives five million refugees, cannot bear the burden of additional immigration."
Erdogan also criticized the EU's "hesitation" regarding Turkey's request to review a 2016 agreement between Ankara and Brussels to stem the flow of migrants.
Under this agreement, "illegal" immigrants who arrive in the European Union can be returned to Turkey, in exchange for financial aid to Ankara to receive them.
Ankara has repeatedly accused the capitals of the European Union of not fulfilling its obligations in the agreement, especially with regard to accelerating Turkey's accession process to the union.
Erdogan said that "the hesitant position of the European Union regarding the fulfillment of Turkey's legitimate aspirations to update the migration agreement of March 18 (2016), negatively affects the possibility of cooperation in the field of migration."
He considered that if the March 18 agreement is not fully implemented, it is "not realistic" that the European Union will wait for more from Turkey.
Merkel stressed that the evacuation of people in need of protection, from Afghanistan, is a "top priority."
A spokeswoman for the German chancellor said Merkel and Erdogan agreed to "cooperate closely to support the work of international organizations, in particular the UN refugee aid agencies, in Afghanistan and neighboring countries."
Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied on Saturday evening that the Turkish air raid that killed eight people Tuesday in northwestern Iraq had targeted a hospital, saying it had hit a base of a rebel group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Erdogan said in a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi that "contrary to the terrorist organization's claims, the targeted site is not a hospital or a health center, but rather one of the shelters of this organization," according to a statement issued by the Turkish presidency.
The Turkish bombing, which targeted a hospital that received a PKK member in the town of Sinjar, in northwestern Iraq, resulted in eight deaths, according to what the local administration announced.
The administration said in a statement on Wednesday, which included the names of the victims, that "the number of martyrs of the Turkish bombing reached eight, (they are) four fighters within the 80th Regiment, and four employees of the hospital," which completely collapsed.
The 80th Regiment is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces and is affiliated with the Iraqi government, and was previously known as the "Sinjar Protection Units", which was established with the support of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in 2014 to defend the city after it fell to Daesh.
Turkish forces regularly launch operations against the rear bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Iraqi National Security Council, headed by Al-Kazemi, condemned "unilateral military actions that harm the principles of good neighborliness," expressing its refusal to "use Iraqi lands to settle scores from any party."
The statement did not directly mention Turkey or the Kurdistan Workers party in particular.
Since last April 23, Ankara has been carrying out a military operation to pursue elements of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which usesthe Iraqi mountains bordering Turkey as its bases to launch attacks against the Turkish state and its army.