Greece submitted a request to the European Commission and Frontex to immediately return 1,450 illegal immigrants not entitled to international protection under the EU-Turkey Joint Statement.
This is a very important development as it is essentially the resumption of requests for returns to Turkey, based on the Joint Declaration that obliges Ankara to stop illegal crossings, and on the other hand, accept returns of those who are not entitled to international protection.
In particular, Greece requested the return of 955 illegal immigrants to Turkey and are currently in Lesvos, 180 in Chios, 128 in Samos and 187 in Kos, whose requests were rejected and as a result, are reimbursable under the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration.
This is the largest return ever requested.
The first paragraph of the joint EU-Turkey declaration clearly states that all migrants who have entered Greece from Turkey after March 20, 2016 and are not entitled to international protection, will be returned to Turkey.
In the first two months of 2020, a total of 139 returns to Turkey were recorded, while the return process has stopped since March 15, 2020, when Turkey also referred to the difficulties caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ten months later, the rapid screening procedures for COVID-19 in Greece and the significant acceleration of the asylum process, have created the right conditions for the resumption of the safe return process for those not entitled to asylum.
In accordance with the law and in compliance with health protocols. This is a necessary step of the strict but fair policy pursued by Greece in immigration, with respect for European values and the rules of international law.
The Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, stated:
“Our country consistently implements a strict but fair immigration policy. Giving international protection to those who deserve it, but at the same time returning to those provided by national and international law.
“As part of this policy, today we submitted a request to the European Commission and Frontex for the return – based on the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration – of 1,450 migrants currently in the Eastern Aegean islands.
“Thanks to the new control possibilities for coronavirus, it is now possible for the rapid return of migrants who cross the borders of our country illegally.”