Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said on Sunday that a new wave of migrants is on its way from Iran to Turkey, three million strong, and they might not be planning to stop in Turkey.
“Unfortunately, they are mostly Afghans again from the further east of Iran,” Kaynak said of these new refugees, as reported by Hurriyet Daily News.
“We have such worry that it is like the Iranian state is disregarding their migration toward Turkey, not to say that they are assisting them,” he added.
Hurriyet notes that about 3,000 migrants have come through Iran into Turkey in 2017, which means that if Kaynak is correct, the new wave would be several orders of magnitude larger.
“Europe and the world should think about it. They want to come to Turkey as a transit point and they do not want to stay in Turkey. They want to cross into the west and for them, Turkey is an important barrier and is enduring an important cost,” warned the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced Kaynak’s remarks as an anti-Iranian statement and slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for warning about “Iranian nationalism” during a recent visit to Bahrain.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry said:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues making baseless statements against Iran. As for the refugees, Iran has been hosting millions of refugees from its neighboring countries for more than 30 years. Turkey should learn how Iran has treated refugees having never misused this humanitarian issue for special pre-planned political purposes against any country.
Daily Sabah quotes Kaynak saying that Turkey plans to build a wall along its eastern border as well as a “reception center.”
On Monday, Kaynak said his remarks about Iranian migration were “misinterpreted.”
“We prevented 30,000 irregular migrants from going to Europe via Turkey in 2016 and caught those people. This number was around 3,000 for the first three months of this year. I expressed that we would continue this struggle. I never said we are expecting a new migration wave from Iran to Turkey and we are ready for it. I also did not say three million migrants could come to Turkey,” he said.
“I said Turkey is successfully preventing an irregular migration movement that could come from the east of Iran to Turkey and cross into Europe,” he continued. “Regarding the statement from the Iranian side, I think they have misinterpreted my words. I never said Iran is encouraging irregular migration.”