EU says Turkey should take back migrants from Greece

Turkey should resume accepting asylum seekers whose appeals have been rejected by Greece, as per a 2016 refugee deal with the European Union, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said during a visit to the Greek island of Lesbos, Deutsche Welle reported on Monday.

“I call on Turkey to urgently resume the return of migrants from Greece,” Johansson said as she visited camps on Lesbos that house more than 8,000 asylum seekers.

The commissioner’s call came ahead of a visit to Turkey by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel next week. They are due to hold talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top Turkish officials.

There are a total of 14,000 migrants in camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Kos and Leros, Deutsche Welle said.

Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi joined Johansson in calling on Turkey to accept the return of 1,450 migrants whose applications for asylum were rejected.

Fewer than 3,000 migrants have been returned to Turkey since 2016, Deutsche Welle said in a report earlier this month.

Mitarachi rejected allegations that Greece was preventing migrants from reaching its soil to apply for asylum.

“We strongly deny that the Greek coast guard has ever been involved in pushbacks,” Mitarachi said. This “kind of fake news we hear about the Greek coast guard” is spread by traffickers, he said.