Athens, Berlin see migrant returns deal differently

Athens, Berlin see migrant returns deal differently

Athens and Berlin appear to have different takes on the deal for the return of migrants from Germany to Greece that was agreed in principle during a European Union leaders’ summit last month, Kathimerini understands. 

The deal, which was reached between Greek, German and Spanish officials, stipulated that the details of implementation would be agreed over the coming weeks and reviewed regularly. 

A German delegation is currently in Athens to finalize the details of the accord which the Greek side has played down as "technicalities." 

However it appears that those details will determine the substance of the accord. 

Migration Policy Minister Dimitris Vitsas was upbeat about the deal, describing it as “a political agreement that is clear.” He added that, on balance, it would work out in Greece’s favor as Germany would take back around 3,000 migrants as part of a program to reunify migrant families. 

As regards migrant returns, he indicated that the deal would only apply to migrants who crossed through Greece from August 1 onward. 

Berlin seems to see things differently. There, the understanding appears to be that some 3,300 migrants currently in Germany must be returned to Greece.

The deal stipulates that Germany will take in 3,163 migrants as part of family reunifications but notes that this would be done “gradually.” 

Amid speculation about the impact of the returns on Greece’s already overcrowded reception centers, dozens of migrants continue to reach the Aegean islands from Turkey.

On Tuesday, 89 people arrived on Lesvos, where the centers are particularly cramped and tensions are high.

A violent brawl at the island’s Moria camp early on Tuesday left 12 people injured.

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