UK’s Johnson and Turkey’s Erdogan agree to share burden of Afghan refugees

Ankara cannot bail out the EU by taking in Afghans who worked for western countries, Turkish president had said earlier

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also held talks with European Council President Charles Michel. Reuters
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed that countries must commit to burden-sharing on aid and refugees, during a phone call between the leaders on Sunday.

The leaders also shared the view that any new government must represent Afghanistan’s diverse population and protect the rights of women and minorities, and that the Taliban would be judged by their actions not their words on this.

The two leaders also discussed intensifying UK-Turkey cooperation on trade and tackling climate change, ahead of Cop26.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Erdogan said Turkey could not bail out the EU by taking in Afghans who worked for western countries in Afghanistan before the Taliban came to power there.

"We have received a request to welcome local employees of a European Union mission in Afghanistan," Mr Erdogan told European Council President Charles Michel in a telephone call.

"The member states do not open their doors even to a tiny portion of the people who served them and who are in difficulty," an official statement quoted the president as saying.

"You cannot expect Turkey to take on the responsibility of third countries."

A day earlier, the Turkish president told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ankara was already hosting about five million refugees and "cannot support an additional migratory burden".

Mr Michel confirmed on Twitter that he had discussed the unfolding situation in Afghanistan with Mr Erdogan, describing it as a "common challenge for Turkey and the EU".

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday urged all countries, especially European countries, to take in some Afghan refugees.

Updated: August 22, 2021, 7:17 PM