Turkey is a safe third country, Greek Migration Minister Notice Mittarakis said. “This is an important step in the fight against illegal migration and the criminal activities of people smugglers.”
According to the DPA news agency, the Greek Coast Guard said that the decision made it clear that people from the affected countries no longer have a chance to stay in the EU.
The majority of security-seekers who come to Greece from Turkey come from one of five countries. According to information from SPIEGEL, the decision should also apply to the land border with Turkey. It is one of several measures taken by the conservative Greek government to close off the country and thus the European Union from refugees and migrants.
The Greek authorities sealed the land border with Turkey as much as possible. Those who make it to the other side of the Avros River are often pulled back by force. On the border, Greece is building walls in some places and using a sonic cannon to attack security seekers to stop them.
In the Aegean Sea, the Greek Coast Guard Shuts Down Spiegel Research Refugee boats, at gunpoint, destroy engines and drive people out to sea – without a chance to reach shore on their own. Sometimes the Greeks dragged refugees back into the sea who had already reached one of the Aegean islands, and thus European soil.
Fewer people in Greek camps
Mainly for this reason, there has been a steady decline in the number of asylum seekers on the eastern Aegean islands. In its most recent figures, the Ministry of Citizenship is in Athens less than 9000 people living on the islands teen, Chios, Kos, Leros and Samos live in the camps. Last year there were more than 40,000 asylum seekers.
The Greek government said on Monday that the measure would strengthen the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration. Among other things, the agreement stipulates that Turkey will stop refugees before they reach European soil and that Greece can, under certain circumstances, send asylum seekers back to Turkey. If they are not in danger there.
However, Turkey is not currently taking back rejected asylum seekers from Greece. As a result, increasing numbers of refugees and migrants may soon be trapped in camps on islands in the Aegean Sea or on the mainland.
EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson had already insisted in early JuneThat in this case asylum seekers would have the right to reapply for asylum in Greece – and be adequately accommodated in accordance with EU law.