Europe Taking in Five Times the Number of Migrants Agreed from Turkey
European Union countries are taking in far more migrants from Turkey than required by the migrant agreement, with Germany taking in more than a third of the migrants.
The European Union (EU) migrant agreement with Turkey began in March 2016. Since then, the EU has taken in 6,907 Syrian asylum seekers directly from Turkey.
Ankara, by contrast, has taken only 1,229 migrants from Greece which contradicts the agreement in which Turkey is expected to take back one migrant for every migrant Europe takes from Turkey, Die Welt reports.
The EU-Turkey agreement has largely been credited with stopping the massive flow of migrants which, in 2015 at the height of the migrant crisis, saw over a million migrants arrive in Germany.
Germany has also taken in the most migrants from Turkey since the agreement began, admitting 2,516 Syrians followed by Netherlands who have taken 1,552, and then France with 839.
The Greek government has returned only 1,229 migrants to Turkey; the EU Commission blames the lack of numbers on the slow asylum claim procedures in Greece.
Since the closure of the Greek border with Macedonia and Bulgaria, the Greek government has been stuck with tens of thousands of migrants. Realising they would be sent back to Turkey after the agreement, huge numbers of the migrants in Greece applied for asylum, overwhelming the Greek system.
Greece has also been heavily criticised for the conditions in the migrant camps, which are often located on islands in the Aegean Sea. The government has countered the claims saying the country’s resources have been stretched to the limit and have asked the EU for financial assistance.
In order to provide relief for Greece, the EU has attempted to redistribute migrants from the country and from Italy, which has seen a surge of migrants from North Africa in the past year.
Many countries, particularly Central European countries like Poland and Hungary, have rejected the EU’s redistribution plans. The EU has threatened both countries with economic sanctions for refusing to accept migrants but both countries have remained defiant.
Turkey has also used the migrant agreement to threaten the bloc on several occasions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to scrap the agreement earlier this year when Austria voted to stop Turkey’s accession process to the EU.
In March of this year, Turkish Foreign Minister Süleyman Soylu threatened a wave of 15,000 migrants per month after several EU countries banned Turkish politicians from holding rallies supporting a referendum that merged the powers of the prime minister and the presidency of Turkey.