Greece’s new asylum law, which goes into effect on January 1, will facilitate the return of more people to Turkey under the terms of the 2016 EU-Turkey deal designed to curb migration across the Aegean, officials say.
A key element of the new measures, which have come under fire from international aid groups, is the prioritization of asylum applications, with those from individuals belonging to vulnerable groups and coming from countries with high asylum recognition rates being examined first.
“There is a misunderstanding regarding the EU-Turkey statement,” an unnamed Migration Ministry official told Kathimerini. “It concerns Syrians who can be sent back to Turkey, despite having a refugee profile and provided that their life is not at risk,” said the official, adding that Ankara is getting European Union funds to cater for these people.
A total of 13,000 Syrians landed in Greece in 2019. “If we could return half of them to Turkey, it would help a great deal,” the official said.
Some critics have said the change in asylum rules have caused a spike in inflows.
Speaking to Kathimerini, the director of the Asylum Service on Lesvos in the eastern Aegean, Marios Kaleas rejected the notion. “I do not think that political decisions in Greece influence arrivals from Turkey.”