Turkey unable to handle new refugee influx, says Erdoğan

Turkey lacks the capacity to deal with a possible new refugee wave from Afghanistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in a telephone call on Tuesday.

The Turkish leader called on Germany and other European Union nations to provide assistance to Afghanistan's neighbors to help them in bearing ''the burden of the Afghan migration,'' according to a statement from the Turkish Presidency.

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive as the Turkish president faces political pressure from the opposition to halt any further influx of refugees in the country, which already hosts some 4 million migrants, the largest number in the world. 

Ankara is concerned about a potential new influx prompted by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan last month and has built a wall along its border with Iran designed to stop the arrival of migrants.

,Erdoğan told Steinmeier that ''no one wants to relive an experience similar to the Syrian refugee wave of 2015,'' the statement said, referring to the arrival of hundreds of thousands on Greek islands by boats from the nearby Turkish coast, as they sought to make their way into Europe.

Turkey and the EU in 2016 signed an agreement, which stipulated the allocation of €3 billion in aid to Turkey to help migrants. The deal also included the end of visa restrictions applied to Turkish citizens when travelling to Europe as of June 2016, but the visa restrictions still remain. Furthermore, as part of the agreement both parties agreed to “re-energise” Turkey’s EU bid.

The Turkish leader also urged the EU to take rapid steps to ensure that the deal is ‘’implemented by re-starting Turkey's stalled membership talks, updating the customs union with Ankara and granting visa-free travel to Turkish citizens,’’ according to the statement.

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