Berlin heralds deal with Greece to return migrants

Berlin heralds deal with Greece to return migrants

The German government Friday heralded a deal with Athens for the return of migrants who applied for asylum in Greece and then turned up at Germany’s border with Austria. It is expected to lead to the imminent return of some 2,000 migrants to Greece.

The return agreement will apply to asylum seekers registered in Greece by the Eurodac system – the European Union’s fingerprint database – the spokeswoman for the German Ministry of the Interior announced.

“The interior ministries have reached an agreement and we are on the verge of completion. Only the formal exchange of letters is pending. We are in agreement,” Eleonore Petermann said.

The return procedure has to start 48 hours from the moment of detention, she said, adding that further details would be made public after the deal was signed.

Petermann added that she expected an agreement would also be reached with Italy.

Last week, Madrid signed a deal with Berlin to take back undocumented migrants who arrive in Germany but have applied for asylum in Spain.

By late Friday, however, there had been no official confirmation in Athens of the deal-in-the-making with Berlin for migrant returns.

There has been debate about a possible deal for migrant returns to Greece from Germany since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Premier Pedro Sanchez on the sidelines of an EU leaders’ summit on migration in Brussels at the end of June.

Germany’s deal with Greece is part of an effort by Merkel to bolster her troubled coalition government amid rising pressure for a harder line on migration.

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