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Turkey: Opposition leader offers Austria 3bn euros to take Afghan refugees

Austrian prime minister's suggestion about keeping Afghan refugees inside Turkey has angered Ankara's government and opposition
The leader of Turkey's Good Party (IYI), Meral Aksener, speaks at a party meeting in Ankara on 3 August 2019 (AFP)
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Ankara

A Turkish nationalist opposition leader has offered Vienna 3bn euros to take all Afghan refugees in Turkey, in response to Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz’s remarks suggesting that they should stay in Turkey.

Meral Aksener, the chairman of Turkey's Good Party, also known as IYI, said that keeping migrants inside Turkey, Kurz’s solution to the crisis, was inappropriate.

“This tactless Austrian prime minister said that all Afghans should stay in Turkey and he could pay us,” Aksener said on Tuesday.

“I’m telling the so-called Austrian prime minister, we will give you 3bn euros so you can take all the refugees.”

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Aksener’s remarks were an apparent reference to the European Union’s pledge last month to provide fresh funds of 3bn euros to support refugees in Turkey.

Some Turkish opposition parties have called EU aid hush money to keep the refugees inside the country, with EU nations doing nothing to alleviate suffering in the region or considering Turkey as an equal partner.

Apart from the 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, the country is also housing many migrants from Central Asia and Africa.

Earlier this month, social media footage showing dozens of Afghans freely running into Turkish territories from the Iran border caused a public backlash. The arrival of Afghans in Turkey has significantly increased since the administration of President Joe Biden decided to withdraw the US from Afghanistan.

Kurz’s statement also triggered a Turkish foreign ministry statement earlier this week, which said that referring to Turkey “as a more suitable place” for Afghan refugees was astonishing to Turkish diplomats.

“Turkey will not assume a mass migration crisis that arises from the region and will not bear a new migration wave,” the statement said.

“While conveying our approach to our interlocutors at every occasion and level, we reiterate that Turkey will not be the border guard or refugee camp of the European Union.”