EU says Turkey will play important role in stopping Afghans from reaching Europe

Turkey will play a very important role in managing the expected wave of Afghans fleeing their country, European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.

Afghans continue their wait near the Kabul airport in hopes of fleeing a Taliban-ruled country on Aug. 18.

Duvar English - Anadolu Agency

Turkey will “play a very important role” in dealing with the wave of Afghans fleeing their country and preventing them from reaching Europe, European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Aug. 18.

Speaking to Spain’s state broadcaster RTVE, Borrell said the EU will have to work closely with countries on the route between Afghanistan and Europe to “avoid a humanitarian crisis,” noting that Turkey will be particularly important.

“There will be a lot of Afghans trying to bypass Turkey for Europe. On this occasion, Turkey will play a very important role,” he said. 

Borrell noted that the bloc does not have a common policy for accepting refugees in a situation such as the one being witnessed in Afghanistan, adding that the EU is trying to establish a clear solution even though there are conflicting positions among European leaders.

“But frankly, this is tomorrow’s worry. Right now, we’re worried about ensuring the Kabul airport is functional and that the people we need to pick up are ready to go when our planes arrive,” said the top EU diplomat.

‘Afghanistan is the defeat of Western world’

Borrell also noted the geopolitical significance of the rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in the interview.

“What happened in Afghanistan is a defeat of the Western world. We must have the courage to recognize it and analyze its causes and consequences,” he said.

He called it “the most serious geopolitical event since Russia annexed Crimea” and said it will affect the balance of power in the world.

“This current situation is forcing us to rethink how we should act and defend the values we profess to hold,” Borrell said.

Despite the Taliban’s vision of women being the “antithesis” of the EU’s beliefs, he said the bloc will need to start a dialogue with the Taliban to safely get more people to the Kabul airport.

“It’s not enough to say we’re worried. We have to find solutions with what we have. At the moment, our resources are limited and concentrated on the fundamental task of repatriating local staff, European citizens or the highly vulnerable,” he added.

While some EU military flights have started operating again, Borrell added that safely transporting more people to the Afghan capital’s airport “isn’t so easy.”

The Taliban's seizure of power on Aug. 15 threw locals into panic as they attempted to flee the country. Horrific scenes of a stampede emerged from the local airport as people tried even to cling to planes taking off the runway.