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Erdogan says Turkey not ‘Europe's migrant storage unit’ as EU guards against Afghan refugees

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Migrants make their way on foot on the outskirts of Brezice, Slovenia October 20, 2015. (Photo by Reuters)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called on European governments to take responsibility for refugees coming from Afghanistan, insisting that his country has no intention of becoming "Europe's migrant storage unit" after the Taliban’s takeover triggered a new wave of refugee outflow.

Erdogan further emphasized following a cabinet meeting that Turkey had taken measures along its borders with Iran, says Ankara could engage in talks with the new government in Afghanistan that will be formed by the Taliban to discuss "our common agendas."

The development came as numerous European leaders declared this week that they would brace against allowing refugees to enter the continent.  

Warning that "the destabilization of Afghanistan also risks leading to irregular migratory flows towards Europe," French President Emmanuel Macron insisted earlier this week that Europe must adopt a "robust" response to refugee flows from Afghanistan.

"We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows that would endanger those who use them and feed trafficking of all kinds," Macron said during a pre-recorded televised address. 

The remarks came despite the fact that military forces of European countries played a major role in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan that lasted more than 20 years, leaving the war-torn country in ruins without much accomplishments and prompting a massive refugee outflow after their abrupt withdrawal that led to the takeover of the country by the very militant group that they toppled back in 2001.

In recent days, distressing images out of Kabul have showed desperate Afghans attempting to leave the country by clinging to departing aircraft and falling to their death.

Kabul airport was overrun with thousands of Afghans crowding the tarmac in the hope of getting out of the country while Western countries including the US, the UK and multiple EU member states such as Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Czech Republic scrambled to evacuate their nationals.

Macron said Paris, Berlin and other European nations will push for an "initiative to build a robust, coordinated and united response without delay, which will involve the fight against irregular flows, solidarity in the effort, the harmonization of protection criteria, and the establishment of cooperation with transit and host countries such as Pakistan, Turkey and Iran."

EU’s Europe Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Wednesday  member countries "should not wait until people stand at our external border”.

"We should not send the signal that Germany can take in everyone in need," the leader of Germany's Christian democrat party, Armin Laschet, said.  

Many European countries have become increasingly hostile to migrants and asylum-seekers in recent years. That trend was partially a response to when, beginning in 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees traveled to Europe on foot or by boat, many of them fleeing the war which the West helped to wage on Syria.

Since then, many countries have tightened border controls.

Last week — before the Taliban took full control of Afghanistan — Austria, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Germany urged the EU leadership to continue sending Afghan asylum seekers whose claims were rejected back home.

"Stopping returns sends the wrong signal and is likely to motivate even more Afghan citizens to leave their home for the EU," the countries said in a joint letter to the European Commission.

EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Tuesday for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

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