NL "highly motivated" to prevent flow of Afghan asylum seekers, PM says
Preventing a new flow of asylum seekers was one of the main topics of the conversation that caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte had with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday evening. Rutte said this to the media prior to the conversation.
"The last thing you want is a repeat of what happened in 2015 and 2016 with the Syrian refugee crisis," Rutte said. "Everyone is highly motivated to prevent that." In order to prevent a new flow, he believes it is important that some degree of stability and normality return to Afghanistan.
Rutte and Macron also discussed the repatriation of people from Afghanistan. For this it is important that you get "a safe presence" in the country again, said Rutte. The last Dutch diplomats left the country last week when the evacuation mission stopped.
In order to get people out of Afghanistan, the Netherlands will "at some point" have direct contact with the Taliban. That will happen "under very strict conditions", according to Rutte. It will not imply any recognition of the regime and it will only aim to evacuate people.
Afghans who flee to neighboring countries themselves cannot "simply" come to the Netherlands. "That will depend on the background of the people. We will look at that on a case-by-case basis." The Ministry of Foreign Affairs drew up lists of people who can be evacuated, such as interpreters. Rutte believes that other asylum seekers should be sheltered in the region.
According to him, countries in Europe are working closely together to get the evacuation going again as soon as possible. Caretaker Minister Sigrid Kaag (Foreign Affairs) is going to Qatar and Pakistan, among others. These countries have a influence on Afghanistan and that is why it is important to have close contact with them. The Netherlands, France, Germany, Great Britain and Italy are also working together on a joint post in the Afghan capital of Kabul, he reported on Twitter after the conversation with Macron.
Reporting by ANP.