Greece illegally deported 60,000 migrants to Turkey between 2017 and 2018 -report

Greece illegally deported about 60,000 migrants to Turkey between 2017 and 2018, Deutsche Welle said, citing a report on the online news portal of weekly German magazine Spiegel published on Wednesday evening.

Documents from the Turkish Interior Ministry say that Greece illegally transported 58,283 people to Turkey in the 12 month period leading up to Nov. 1, 2018. The largest proportion of migrants sent away from Greece were Pakistani, with large numbers from Somalia, Algeria and Bangladesh, while 4,500 were Syrians, DW said.

Meanwhile, a total 25,404 irregular migrants have been pushed back into Turkey by Greece since the beginning of 2019, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement on Oct. 27. 

Turkish officials said they had sent most of the people back to their countries of origin except for the Syrians, who had been sent to the Turkish provinces they were registered in upon their arrival in the country.

Turkey and Greece have a bilateral readmission agreement which formed the legal backbone of the 2016 migrant deal between Turkey and the European Union, that aimed to curb the flow of irregular migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands.

A state is obliged to assess the asylum status of new migrants rather than sending them to another country under European and international law. Turkey has accused Greece of not properly dealing with the asylum status of migrants.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsokasis dismissed Turkey’s accusations, saying Ankara was playing games."Those people who have used the refugee crisis to their own ends should be more careful when dealing with Greece,” DW quoted Mitsokasis as saying.

Athens had denied similar accusations "many times" already, a Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman told German news agency dpa.

Over 90,000 migrants were arrested between January and September 2019 in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne, which borders Greece, a big increase from the 30,000 arrested in the same region in 2016, according to Turkish officials.