Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that his country would not be able to cope with an “additional burden of migrants” arriving from Afghanistan.
“A new wave of migration is inevitable if the necessary measures are not taken in Afghanistan and Iran,” Erdogan said in a telephone interview with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“Turkey, which already has five million refugees, cannot bear an additional burden of migrants,” he told Merkel.
Erdogan made similar comments to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Friday.
Erdogan also accused Brussels of being “evasive” regarding Ankara’s demand to revise a 2016 agreement between Turkey and the European Union aimed at stemming the flow of potential refugees.
Signed in 2015 during the EU migration crisis, the agreement allows “irregular” migrants reaching the Greek islands to be returned to Turkey in exchange for aid.
The EU also pledged to work with Ankara to modernize an existing customs union and pave the way for Turkey’s eventual membership in the bloc.
Turkey also wants visa-free travel to EU countries and the resumption of regular summits between the two sides.
But Ankara has repeatedly accused the EU of not respecting the terms of the agreement.
Merkel’s office, for its part, responded by saying that the evacuation of people from Afghanistan remains “the top priority”.
The two leaders agreed to “close cooperation to support the work of international organizations, especially UN refugee aid agencies, in Afghanistan and neighboring countries,” said a spokeswoman for Merkel.