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Without Proof, Turkey Says Greece Pushed Back 58,283 Migrants

November 15, 2019

ANKARA- Without producing any proof and pumping up its earlier claim, Turkey said that Greece unlawfully deported 58,283 migrants from 2017-18 under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, reported the weekly German magazine Spiegel.

That’s at odds with figures that showed only a relative handful were deported to Turkey under an essentially-suspended European Union swap deal with Turkey in 2016 and as the new New Democracy government said it wanted to lawfully return some 20,000 of the more than 78,000 in Greece, including more than 33,700 on islands, with transfers to mainland camps underway.

Disputing the accusations

Greece is disputing the accusations, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsokasis said Turkey was just playing games. “Those people who have used the refugee crisis to their own ends should be more careful when dealing with Greece,” reported the German news site Deutsche Welle (DW.)

A Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman told German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) that the claims had been denied “many times” already as Turkey hasn’t shown any proof it’s true other than issuing press statement claims.

This so-called “push back” of asylum seekers is illegal under European and international law. The state is obliged to assess the asylum status of new migrants rather than sending them to another country and Mitsotakis said he would speed asylum reviews but also deportations.

According to the Turkish documents, the largest proportion of migrants sent away from Greece were Pakistani, along with those from Somalia, Algeria and Bangladesh and 4,500 who fled Syria’s civil war.

Turkish officials said they sent back most of the people back to their countries of origin except for the Syrians, who were sent back to the Turkish town where they originally registered as refugees.

The governor of the Turkish-Greek border region of Edirne reported that over 90,000 migrants were arrested between January and September 2019, a big increase from the 30,000 arrested in the same region in 2016, said DW.

The Director of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, blaming European Union policies, said Greece can’t contain its refugee and migrant crisis and that said those being kept in detention centers and camps on islands should be moved to the mainland.

Speaking to Euronews’ Good Morning Europe, as the migrant issue in Greece and Bosnia was being discussed by the European Parliament Catherine Woolard said that, “The situation in Greece is the direct result of European policy and particularly the Greek-Turkey deal. So now the situation will also be exacerbated by the new law introduced by Greece.”

She was referring to New Democracy’s plans to speed asylum applications but also deportations back to Turkey of 20,000 deemed ineligible for sanctuary. They had gone to Turkey fleeing war and strife in their homelands and were sent to Greek islands by human traffickers.

Mitsotakis is trying to react to a surge after he took power in July 7 snap elections that swelled the numbers by some 40,000.

Mitsotakis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked about the crisis after the European Court of Auditors said the EU should review its policies after closing its borders to the refugees and migrants and with other countries reneging on promises to help take some of the overload.

Another21,152 migrants landed on the islands of the eastern Aegean between November 1 and 14, according to official government figures, as they were packed into camps and detention centers already more than three times over their initial capacity.

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