Commission to Turkey: The readmission agreement must continue

komision 0 Greece, COMMISSION, Refugees, Turkey

The agreement on readmission of migrants between Greece and Turkey must continue to be implemented, said today from Brussels the representative of the Commission, responsible for immigration issues, Natasa Berto.

Asked to comment on Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Tsavousoglu's statement that Turkey is freezing the bilateral readmission agreement with Greece, N. Berto said that the European Commission is in contact with both the Greek and Turkish authorities and added that The Commissioner for Immigration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has various contacts with both sides.

Berto stressed that the bilateral agreement between Greece and Turkey on the readmission of migrants is a "reference element" for the EU-Turkey readmission agreement and at the same time, is a prerequisite for the abolition of visas for Turkish citizens. "The position of the European Commission is that the bilateral agreement between Greece and Turkey should be implemented continuously", said N. Berto, noting that only in this way will they be able to meet the last prerequisites in the "road map" for the abolition of visa Turkey.

The Commission representative also stressed that the return of illegal immigrants, including those crossing the Turkish coast and arriving in Greece, is an important element in managing illegal migration flows and preventing the creation of new migration routes.

Asked to comment on whether the Commission is concerned about the increase in migration flows from Turkey to Greece, N. Berto said that the overall assessment is that there will be no such thing. He said, however, that in 2017 and 2018 only 25 returns of migrants took place on the basis of the bilateral Greek-Turkish readmission agreement.

It is noted that the bilateral readmission agreement between Greece and Turkey concerns the return of illegal immigrants from the hinterland and not from the islands. The EU-Turkey readmission agreement concerns migrants on the Greek islands.

According to the European Commission, as of March 21, 2016, a total of 600 irregular migrants have returned to Turkey under the Greece-Turkey bilateral agreement and 1.624 under the EU-Turkey readmission agreement.