Austrian PM Kurz finds Turkey 'more suitable' for Afghans as migration destination

Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has said that Turkey is the “more suitable place” for Afghan refugees to stay at, compared to Germany, Austria or Sweden. Kurz also argued that violence is on the rise in his country following the migration flow.

Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz is seen addressing a press conference in this file photo.

Duvar English 

Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz spoke of the recent wave of migration from Afghanistan, saying Turkey is the “more suitable place” for Afghans to flee to, rather than Germany, Austria or Sweden.

“We cannot solve Afghanistan's problems by taking in large numbers of people into Germany and Austria, as in 2015. We have to improve the situation on the ground. If people have to flee, then I consider neighboring countries, Turkey or safe parts of Afghanistan, to be definitely the more suitable place than Germany, Austria or Sweden,” Kurz told German newspaper Bild in an interview on July 25.

"I don't want to import this sick ideology into Europe,” Kurz said.

“Thank goodness there are many who integrate well, but we have several people in Europe who bring exactly these ideas to Europe. We have imported a great deal of anti-Semitism into Europe in recent years through these migratory flows. Among those people who have come to us, there are those who are clearly homophobic and who do not necessarily uphold women's rights,” Kurz further said.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry slammed Kurz's remarks, saying it found them "astonishing." 

"First of all, Turkey is not a country neighboring Afghanistan, as Chancellor Kurz stated," the statement said.

“Instead of emphasizing joint efforts and cooperation to solve the problem of irregular migration, which affects the whole world and is a common issue for everyone, the attitude that ‘migrants should not come here, go elsewhere’ is both selfish and unhelpful,” it added.

Emphasizing that “Turkey will not take in a new wave of migration,” the statement added: “We convey this stance to our interlocutors on every occasion and at every level, emphasizing that Turkey will not be a border guard or a refugee camp of the EU.”

Kurz's comments came as the European Union is weighing a new package of financial aid to Afghanistan and its neighbors to help limit the flow of refugees from the country.

Two EU officials told Reuters last week that the plan, which is at a preparatory phase, would involve more financial help to Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries in the region.

The objective would be to help refugees closer to home and avoid a new flow of asylum seekers to the EU, the officials said.

The ongoing withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan after almost two decades has galvanized the Taliban, who could retake control of large parts of the country, spurring a new flow of refugees.