Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas has justified a decision by the Greek government to take back from Germany “a small number” of asylum seekers as a “symbolic” gesture.
“I have come under harsh criticism for things I have already announced a very long time ago. We shall implement the Dublin rules in a symbolic manner,” Mouzalas said on Tuesday.
He said that the decision concerned a “very small number of people [that would be sent back] within the coming months.”
Under the European Union’s so-called Dublin regulations an asylum claim should be processed in the country where a migrant first entered the bloc.
Germany had suspended returns under a 2011 ruling by its Constitutional Court citing shortcomings in Greece’s asylum system. The reinstatement of Dublin rules is based on a European Commission recommendation issued in December.
In an interview with German public television station ARD show, Mouzalas said that Greek authorities have received 392 requests from Germany and some other EU states.
The transfers to Greece will only affect migrants who arrived in Germany from mid-March 2017.