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Society

Germany Will Return 2,000 Migrants to Overwhelmed Greece

August 21, 2018

ATHENS – Already overwhelmed with more than 64,000 refugees and migrants, including more than 15,000 on Aegean islands near Turkey, which allows human traffickers to keep sending them, Greece has now agreed to take back some 2,000 who made their way to Germany, which closed its borders to them.

Under EU rules, asylum can only be sought in the country where refugees and migrants first land, almost always Greece, Italy or Spain as they can’t physically get to more desirable countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom otherwise.

The return agreement will apply to asylum seekers registered in Greece by the Eurodac system – the European Union’s fingerprint database – the spokeswoman for the German Ministry of the Interior announced.

“The interior ministries have reached an agreement and we are on the verge of completion. Only the formal exchange of letters is pending. We are in agreement,” Eleonore Petermann said.

The return procedure has to start 48 hours from the moment of detention, she said, adding that further details would be made public after the deal was signed. Similar deals would be reached with Italy and Spain, she said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to show she’s returning refugees and migrants after taking in more than a million of them and Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras agred despite EU countries reneging on pledges to help take some of the overload.

Germany’s deal with Greece is part of an effort by Merkel to bolster her troubled coalition. In June, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer threatened to turn back previously registered migrants unilaterally at the German-Austrian border but Merkel said agreements first had to be reached with other countries.

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