Greece is making an “incredible” effort to tackle the EUs migration crisis following a controversial deal with Turkey, European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans said Thursday.
The assessment comes two weeks before the commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is due to give its verdict on whether Greece has done enough to protect the external borders of the EUs Schengen passport-free area.
“I have to say here that Greece is making an incredible effort, an incredible effort, and I really want to command the cooperation we have as the Commission with the Greek authorities to deal with this issue,” Timmermans told the European Parliament.
“With all the problems we have, I think this cooperation is of a quality we had never seen before and also the cooperation between Greece and Turkey is something to build on also on other areas.”
Turkey agreed in March to take back all migrants who do not qualify for asylum who land in the Greek islands, the main point of entry to Europe, in an agreement involving complex logistics for the registration and return of refugees.
Since the deal came into force on March 20 numbers of migrants and refugees arriving in the Greek islands after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey have sharply dropped.
Greece was the route taken by around 80 percent of the record 1.2 million migrants and refugees who have arrived in Europe since the start of 2015 in the biggest crisis of its kind since World War II.
But Brussels threatened earlier this year to close Greece’s borders with the rest of the Schengen free-travel area unless it does more to protect its own external frontiers and treat refugees better.
It is due to deliver its assessment on May 12.