Berlin (dpa) – Foreign Minister Heiko Maas embarks on a four-day trip on Sunday to five countries, all of which play an important role in further efforts to get refugees out of Afghanistan.
The first stop on Sunday is Turkey, which is of great importance for the continued operation of Kabul airport and the reception of refugees.
Next, the SPD politician visits three of Afghanistan’s neighbors, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan, before heading to Qatar. The small but influential Gulf emirate actively participated in the evacuations. In the capital, Doha, is also the political office of the militant Islamist Taliban, who serves as the foreign ministry of the new rulers in Afghanistan and with whom the German negotiator Markus Potzel has been discussing emigration issues for days.
Maas begins just three days after the end of the German Armed Forces Evacuation Operation, in which the Air Force transported 5,347 people from at least 45 countries out of Kabul under extremely dangerous conditions . But there are still over 10,000 people on the Federal Foreign Office’s exit lists, including 300 Germans. “The military evacuation is now complete. But our work will continue until everyone for whom we are responsible in Afghanistan is safe, ”Maas promised Thursday.
The SPD politician came under massive pressure due to errors in judgment before the Taliban came to power and faced demands for resignation. Its own political future after the federal election will likely depend on the success of further efforts to remove those in need of protection from Afghanistan. The federal government wants to help people seeking protection to leave the country by land to neighboring countries, but also by air via Kabul airport.
In the Turkish resort town of Antalya, Maas will first meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu, who is based there, on Sunday. The Turkish government is in talks with the Taliban over the operation of the Kabul airport after the US forces withdrew on August 31. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said the Taliban had made a proposal, but had not yet made a decision. The airport had already been secured by the Turkish armed forces during the NATO operation, and they were also participating in the service for air operations.
Turkey is likely to play an important role again on the refugee issue. In addition to an estimated 3.6 million Syrian refugees, hundreds of thousands of Afghans and migrants from other countries already live in the country. Turkey has taken in more refugees than any other country in the world. Ankara also receives financial support from the EU to supply the Syrians.
Erdogan has recently made it clear on several occasions that he is not ready to continue hosting refugees. Turkey was not Europe’s refugee camp, he said last week. To prevent further migration, Turkey is isolating itself and is currently building a wall on the border with Iran. Afghan migrants enter the country illegally on several occasions through the neighboring country.