By Tony Winterburn • 29 March 2021 • 21:52
EU Demands Turkey Take Back Migrants From Greece. image Wikipedia
EU Demands Turkey Take Back Migrants From Greece.
EU officials told the Turkish government on Monday that it must “urgently” resume accepting migrants from Greece, where thousands are being held in camps. The bloc struck a deal with Ankara in 2016 that it would take back asylum seekers from Greek islands who had their applications rejected.
But tensions have flared between EU members of Greece and Cyprus over a decades-old maritime dispute with Turkey. “I call on Turkey to urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson during a visit to the island of Lesbos, which hosts more than 8,000 asylum seekers.
Her comments come as diplomats announced that top EU politicians Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel would hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week over migration and other regional issues.
The European Commission president and European Council head held a video call with Erdogan earlier this month. But Turkey, an EU candidate country, has not held a formal summit with the two EU chiefs since March 2020, when Erdogan met Michel and von der Leyen in Ankara.
The Turkish government last week said it had pulled out of a convention protecting women from violence, sparking furious criticism from human rights activists. The European Commission, the EU executive, on Monday pledged 276 million euros of EU money for new camps on the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros.
NGOs estimate there are nearly 14,000 migrants being hosted there. Greece’s Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi echoed Johansson’s call, urging Ankara to accept 1,450 migrants whose asylum applications had been rejected.
He has said new migrant camps are being built to host migrant populations, with one in Samos to completed by June and others in Kos and Leros by September.
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