Greece Calls for the Return of 1,450 Migrants to Turkey



Migrants at Lesvos camp
Migrants at the Kara Tepe camp of Lesvos. Credit: Greek government

Greece called on the European Union and its border agency Frontex, on Thursday to remove 1,450 migrants who are 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 that country and are now on the island of Lesvos, 180 who are now on Chios, 128 who are on Samos and 187 on Kos.

Their applications for asylum have been rejected and they must now return to the place of their origin — or at least where they were before arriving on Greek shores.

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 neighboring 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, not only the countries of first reception against uncontrolled migration flows, but also the action of trafficking networks.”