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Greece, Turkey Forge Common Front on Refugees from Afghanistan

Greece Turkey refugees Afghanistan
Mitsotakis and Erdogan discussed the unfolding situation in Afghanistan. The two leaders are seen here at a recent NATO summit. Credit: Greek PM’s press office

Greece and Turkey apparently agreed on Friday to cooperate to prevent a possible mass influx of refugees from Afghanistan into their countries.

Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed via telphone the developing situation in Afghanistan and the challenges that may emerge from Taliban rule there.

During the half-hour talk, which sources said was cordial, the two leaders agreed that Greece and Turkey are facing the same challenges. They reportedly agreed that they will not take responsibility for Afghan refugees as they both look to deter influxes of migrants into their borders.

Both leaders agreed that the neighboring countries must be supported, so that Afghans remain as close to their homeland as possible.

Greece wants to prevent repetition of 2020 events at Turkey border

Greece is looking to prevent a recurrence of the events in 2020, when hundreds of of migrants tried to storm the Greek border at Evros, demanding to pass through to the EU.

“The crisis in Afghanistan is creating new parameters in the geopolitical sphere, and at the same time creates the possibility of migratory flows,” Citizens Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said in the Evros region.

He noted that while Greece is an EU member and supports human rights, “we can’t wait apathetically for the possible consequences,” adding that Athens would not allow migrants to be used to put pressure on Greece.

“It is our decision to defend and secure our borders,” he said. “Our borders will remain safe and inviolate.”

Greece Turkey border
Greek officials visit the border region of Evros to oversee preparations for the possible arrival of Afghan refugees via Turkey. Credit: AMNA

Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said Greece had examined ways to bolster the surveillance and guarding of its frontier, while Chrisochoidis noted that a border fence about 40 kilometers (25 miles) long had been constructed in Evros since the March 2020 events.

On Wednesday, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said that the country was working on evacuating EU citizens and Afghans who worked with the EU, but Greece “does not accept to be the gateway for irregular flows into the EU.”

Turkey will not become “refugee warehouse”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that Turkey would not become a “refugee warehouse” for fleeing Afghans, and asked European countries to provide refuge for them.

“We need to remind our European friends of this fact: Europe — which has become the center of attraction for millions of people — cannot stay out of (the refugee) problem by harshly sealing its borders to protect the safety and wellbeing of its citizens,” Erdogan said.

“Turkey has no duty, responsibility or obligation to be Europe’s refugee warehouse,” Erdogan said.

The comments came amid an increase in recent weeks in the number of Afghans making their way into Turkey across the border from Iran.

Related: Repercussions for Greece After Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan

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