Withdrawal of Turkish officers from Greece has hit EU-Turkey refugee pact, UNHCR official says


The withdrawal of Turkish liaison officers from Greek islands following the country’s failed coup has effectively brought the EU-Turkey refugee pact to a halt, a senior UNHCR official has said.

In an interview with The Guardian on Wednesday, Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR director for Europe, said that deportations of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey, as foreseen by the deal, have been suspended as they cannot take place without the presence of Turkish police.

“We understand that the Greek police and Frontex [the EU’s border agency] are re-establishing contact with their Turkish counterparts, but the dates keep changing, so we don’t know when cooperation will restart,” Cochetel told the British newspaper.

The deal signed in March aims to stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In return for the deal, the EU has earmarked 6 billion euros to Turkey over the next four years to help improve conditions for the 2.7 million Syrian refugees inside Turkey. Brussels is also set to allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.