A deal between Greece and Turkey for the return of migrants that Ankara suspended on Thursday does not have significant benefits for Greece in any case, official figures show.
The deal singed on November 8, 2001, does not concern migrants and asylum-seekers landing on Greece’s shores by sea from Turkey since March 2016, when Ankara signed a separate deal with Brussels as a result of the 2015 refugee crisis. Rather, the 2001 agreement pertains only to those who can be proven to have crossed into Greece from Turkey overland at Evros and other parts of the border.
Under this agreement, which is the one Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the government is suspendin on Thursday amid rising tension between Athens and Ankara, Greece has so far been able to send back just five undocumented migrants this year and 21 in 2017.
“The terms appeared easy at first. We had to prove that the foreigner who had entered the country illegally had crossed from Turkey either from a document showing this or even from a simple transport ticket,” a former Interior Ministry official told Kathimerini. “But when we submitted the list of people we wanted to be returned, the Turkish side took a long time responding. By the time we did receive an answer, we could no longer locate the individual in question as they are not held at detention centers.”
Figures show that the EU-Turkey readmission deal is also having a negligible impact, though the onus for its sluggish implementation appears to rest with the Greek side. Since it was signed in March 2016, just 1,630 migrants of different nationalities have been returned to Turkey, when more than 35,000 are still in Greece waiting for their asylum applications to be processed.