Greece called on the European Union and its border agency Frontex, on Thursday to remove 1,450 migrants not entitled to asylum and return them to Turkey.
The migration and asylum ministry announced that it has submitted a request for the immediate return of the migrants, as foreseen by the EU-Turkey agreement.
In particular, Greece has requested the return to Turkey of 955 foreigners who entered the country from Turkey and are now on the island Lesvos, 180 now on Chios, 128 that are on Samos and 187 on Kos.
Their application for asylum has been rejected and they need to return.
Return process halted
In the first two months of 2020, there were a total of 139 returns to Turkey, while the return process has stopped since March 15, 2020, when Turkey cited the additional difficulties caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ten months later, the ministry said, “the rapid screening procedures for coronavirus in Greece and the significant acceleration of the asylum application process, have created the appropriate conditions for the resumption of the safe return of those foreigners who are not entitled to international protection and came to Greece from Turkey.”
In a statement, Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarakis pointed out:
“We expect the neighbouring country to step up its efforts under the Joint Statement: first, to prevent the passage of boats departing from its shores to our country.
“Secondly, to accept the returns on the basis of the EU-Turkey Statement, but also of the bilateral readmission agreements.”
He added: “On the other hand, what Europe needs is to establish a common mechanism in the new Migration and Asylum Pact, as well as the necessary legal tools for returns. And to fortify, in this way, the countries of first reception against uncontrolled migration flows, but also the action of trafficking networks.”
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