Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday that his country could not bear the “additional burden of immigration” from Afghanistan following the seizure of power by the Taliban.
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 is already hosting five million refugees, cannot bear the burden of further immigration “.
Erdogan also criticized the EU’s “hesitation” over 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 assistance to Ankara to receive them.
Ankara has repeatedly accused the capitals of the European Union of not fulfilling its obligations in the agreement, in particular as regards the acceleration of Turkey’s accession process to the Union.
Erdogan said that “the hesitant position of the European Union regarding the realization 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 said that if the March 18 agreement is not fully implemented, it is “unrealistic” that the European Union expects 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 that Merkel and Erdogan had agreed to “cooperate closely to support the work of international organizations, in particular UN refugee aid agencies, in Afghanistan and in neighboring countries”.
Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denied on Saturday night that the Turkish airstrike that killed eight people on Tuesday in northwestern Iraq targeted a hospital, saying it hit a base of a group. rebel 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. published by the Turkish Presidency.
The Turkish attack, which targeted a hospital that received a PKK member in the town of Sinjar, in northwestern Iraq, killed eight people, according to the local administration.
The administration said in a statement on Wednesday, which included the names of the victims, that “the number of martyrs in the Turkish bombing has reached eight, (these are) four fighters in the 80th regiment, and four hospital workers.” , which completely collapsed.
The 80th Regiment is part of the Popular Mobilization Forces and is affiliated with the Iraqi government. city after its fall 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 which undermine the principles of good neighborliness”, expressing its refusal to “use Iraqi lands for settle accounts of any party “.
The statement does not directly mention Turkey or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in particular.
Since April 23, Ankara has been carrying out a military operation to prosecute elements of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which uses the Iraqi mountains bordering Turkey as bases to launch attacks against the Turkish state and its army.