The Greek government insists that Turkey should accept the return of 1,450 migrants whose asylum requests have been rejected, as this would send out a clear message of deterrence to those planning to cross illegally into Greece and Europe.
The Greek request, submitted to Turkey five months ago and still awaiting a response, was issued within the framework of wider European migration policy and is in line with a recent government bill on migrant returns that has been put to consultation.
“We want to send a message that we, as a country, are finished with the ‘no one goes back’ mentality,” Migration Ministry sources said.
“Those who come will know that men on their own who are to be returned will remain in custody for 18 months. This is a message that will prevent traffickers from promising whatever they want in order to find clients,” the sources added, stressing, at the same time, the need for cooperation with the countries where the migrants will be returning to.
“No matter what legislation Greece puts forward, the question remains how these returns will take place without the consent of the countries that are to receive them,” they said.
Last Thursday, the European Commission proposed funding to the tune of €3.5 billion for migration management in Turkey by 2024.
Overall, it has proposed a total of €5.7 billion over four years to third countries that host large numbers of refugees and migrants (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan), but also to Syria itself.
Migration Ministry sources stress that European Union funding for Turkey should come with strings to ensure that it will accept the return of those who are not entitled to asylum in Greece.