Turkey Will Not Readmit Migrants Currently on Greek Islands

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | March 10, 2016, Thursday // 13:54
Bulgaria: Turkey Will Not Readmit Migrants Currently on Greek Islands Turkish Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir. Photo: EPA

Turkish EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir said on Thursday that Ankara will not readmit migrants who are already on the Greek islands.

Bozkir noted that the proposed readmission agreement with the EU, which had been reached at the summit on Monday, will only be applicable to migrants who will come starting from a certain date after their evacuation.

On Monday, the EU and Turkey reached an agreement in principle to curb the migrant flow.

In return for readmitting all irregular migrants, Turkey was promised a financial assistance of EUR 3 B, which could possibly be expanded to EUR 6 B.

The EU also promised to Turkey to introduce visa-free regime for Turkish citizens and speed up Ankara's efforts to join the EU.

Bozkir noted that it is correct to speak of “thousands or maybe tens of thousands of refugees” to be returned to Turkey rather than of “hundreds of thousands or millions” if the plan is reenacted.

Turkey will start readmitting refugees from Greece only once those who are already on EU territory are resettled among member states.

He highlighted that the EU will not be able to pick highly qualified applicants, such as doctors and engineers, as the process will be overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Bozkir estimated that Turkey will fulfill its obligations under the deal by May 1, Hurriyet Daily informs.

According to the proposed deal, the EU will resettle one Syrian refugee from Turkish camps in exchange for every Syrian taken by Ankara from Greece.

This is expected to reduce the initiative of people to travel on boats to Europe.

The agreement with Turkey is expected to be finalised at the next meeting of the European Council on March 17-18.

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Tags: EU, turkey, migrants, refugees, readmission, greece, islands, UNHCR, Volkan Bozkir, Syria
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