Bozkır: Turkey won’t Take Back Migrants Already on Greek Islands

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkır has stressed the readmission deal with the European Union will not apply to refugees who have already made their way to Greece’s islands. Bozkır has also stated that Turkey will only readmit refugees from Greece once those already in EU territory are resettled among European countries.

“There is an odd perception regarding the readmission agreement as if they will send one million people back to Turkey. Something like this is out of question,” Bozkir told Anadolu Agency. “Whoever is currently on the Greek islands through irregular migration, they are definitely not part of this deal, it would be more accurate to say the number of migrants to be returned to Turkey in the event of a readmission agreement with the EU will be in the thousands or tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands or millions.”

On March 7, Turkey proposed a deal which foresees the EU resettling one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece in exchange for financial aid, visa-free access travel in the Schengen zone and a speeding up of the integration process. EU leaders plan to finalize the deal by March 17-18.

However as Greece’s neighbors Albania and Bulgaria plan to close their borders with Greece, and heavy criticism all round, this deal is already in jeopardy.

According to the Greek daily Kathimerini, Tirana have accepted Italy’s demand for Italian Carabinieri: military police, to be deployed on the Greek-Albanian borders. In the meantime, Bulgaria has already deployed military forces to its southern borders with Greece leaving no room for migration flows out Greece.

The current situation for refugees at Idomeni near the Greek-Macedonian border has been described by many as appalling; with NGOs and activists describing conditions which could lead to potential epidemic diseases among the refugees due to the extremely poor living environment, lack of food and access to clean water.

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