EU Commissioner says Turkey should “urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece”

EU Commissioner says Turkey should "urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece"

EU Commissioner says Turkey should "urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece"

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson on Monday called on Turkey to “urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece.”

She also stressed the need for solidarity among the bloc’s member states in tackling migration.

Johansson and Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachi visited the migrant facilities on the islands of Lesvos and Samos.

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“What we have been seeing in Europe the last six years is the lack of a Europeanised migration policy, and that means that member states at our external borders have been under huge pressure,” Johansson said during a joint press conference with Mitarachi.

“And especially some islands have been under huge pressure in the absence of a European solution.”

The EU Commissioner said she understood “that everybody has a limit to their patience, and I understand that this limit is close, also here on Lesvos and in some other areas.”

Local residents on both islands held protests during Johansson’s visit.

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Johansson also pledged €276 million of EU money for new camps on the islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, where nearly 14,000 migrants are hosted.

On his part, Mitarachi echoed Johansson’s call, urging Ankara to accept 1,450 migrants whose asylum applications had been rejected.

He said that at present, EU border states were facing a tall order in having to “guard frontiers, examine asylum claims, host asylum seekers, protect the vulnerable, return those not entitled to international protection, and integrate refugees.”

Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister again rejected accusations by refugee rights organisations and numerous migrants that Greece conducts pushbacks at sea — the illegal deportation of migrants who have not first been allowed to apply for asylum.

“We strongly deny that the Greek coast guard has been ever involved in pushbacks. Greece is fully adhering to international and European law,” Mitarachi said.

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“But at the same time, we need to be clear that countries have borders, and there are rules and regulations how the competent authorities must exercise and execute their constitutional obligations to protect the borders of the country.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and  European Council President Charles Michel are scheduled to visit Turkey next week, where they will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

*More on GCT: Dendias could visit Turkey on April 14
GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.