June 8, 2018

GREECE: Turkey Has Suspended Its Bilateral Migrant Readmission Deal With Greece. Nearly 600 Undocumented Migrants Rounded Up In Turkey Enroute To Illegally Cross Over To Greek Islands.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
written by Staff
Friday June 8, 2018

A smuggling vehicle crammed with asylum-seekers has crashed on a highway in the north of Greece by the Turkey border, killing six people, including three children, the Associated Press reported on June 8, citing local law enforcement officials.

Police say a further four people have been severely injured. The jeep had 16 people in it when it veered off the road Friday and crashed into rocks near the town of Kavala. Police said the cause of the accident is unclear.

The nationalities and identities of the asylum-seekers were not immediately known, the agency reported.

Police said the vehicle had come from the northeastern Evros border region with Turkey, which is a major crossing point for migrants and refugees seeking a better life in Europe.
Ekathimerini News, Greece
written by Staff
Friday June 8, 2018

The agreement between Greece and Turkey for the return of migrants that Ankara suspended on Thursday is a “point of reference” for the EU-Turkey statement on readmissions and constitutes a precondition for the abolition of visas for Turkish citizens, European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said on Friday.

“The European Commission’s position is that the readmission agreement should be continuously implemented,” Bertaud said, adding that it is the only way to meet the last preconditions for the road map to scrap the visas for Turkish citizens.

The Greek-Turkish deal, singed on November 8, 2001, does not concern migrants and asylum-seekers landing on Greece’s shores by sea from Turkey since March 2016, when Ankara signed a separate statement with Brussels as a result of the 2015 refugee crisis.

Rather, the 2001 agreement pertains only to those who can be proven to have crossed into Greece from Turkey overland at Evros.

Under this agreement, Greece has so far been able to send back just five undocumented migrants this year and 21 in 2017.

Bertaud said the return of irregular migrants is an important element in the management or illegal migration and the prevention of the creation of new migratory routes.

The European Commission and EU’s migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos is in contact with Greek and Turkish authorities, she added.
Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
written by Staff
Thursday June 7, 2018

Turkey has suspended its bilateral migrant readmission deal with Greece in response to a decision by a Greek court to release eight former Turkish soldiers who fled the country a day after the July 2016 coup attempt, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on June 6.

“We have a migrant deal with the EU. It is being implemented. We have a bilateral readmission deal with Greece. We have now suspended this agreement. The process is not fully over but our works towards Greece will continue,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Antalya.

His statement was in response to a question of whether Ankara was considering sanctions against Greece following the release of these soldiers. “It is unacceptable,” the minister said.

“Greece is under immense pressure from the west, particularly on its judiciary,” he added, underlining that the Greek government was sincerely in favor of a resolution to this problem.

This agreement with Greece constitutes the legal backbone of the migrant deal between Turkey and the EU, which was brokered on March 18, 2016, aiming to stem the flow of irregular migrants from Turkey to the Greek islands. The deal says for every Syrian migrant sent back to Turkey from the Greek islands, one Syrian in Turkey will be resettled in the EU.

Future of Turkey-EU deal?

Given the fact that Turkey and the EU could not accomplish the Readmission Agreement (in return for visa liberalization for Turkish nationals) due to differences over the definition of terrorism, the cancellation of the Turkey-Greece agreement will make the implementation of the migrant deal much more difficult as the Greek government will no longer be able to send Syrian refugees back to Turkey.

However, there are also those who argue that Turkey’s migrant deal with the EU and its bilateral agreement with Greece are two separate mechanisms and therefore, halting the latter will not have an effect on the implementation of the former. In any case, this move by Turkey will spark legal confusion over the future of the Turkey-EU agreement.

Tensions escalate

On June 7, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also voiced Ankara’s anger over Athens’ refusal to extradite the former servicemen accused of coup links.

“Turkey remains ‘disturbed’ by Greece’s approach, which is contrary to neighborhood law and international law between the two countries,” Bozdağ said.

He said international law demands Greece hand over the soldiers to Turkey.

Bozbağ added that Greece’s decision not to hand them over would not prevent Turkey from its fight against the terrorist group.

“We will continue our fight against terrorism and Turkey noted Greece’s stance on this issue,” he said.

In January, the Greek Supreme Court ruled against extraditing the former soldiers, a move Turkey called “politically motivated.”

Turkey has repeatedly called for the extradition of the suspected coup-plotters, including during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s official visit to Greece last December.

The soldiers arrived in Greece’s Thrace region aboard a military helicopter hours after the botched putsch.

Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos said on June 6 he planned to brief his counterparts during a meeting of NATO defense ministers scheduled for June 7 on the earlier remarks made by Bozdağ regarding the eight army officers, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported.

“No matter what they do, it is our duty to find these soldiers’ links to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization [FETÖ] and bring them back to Turkey regardless of where they go,” Bozdağ said on June 4.

As tensions between the two NATO allies escalate, the Turkish Navy has ordered one frigate, two gunboats and units from the Under Water Attack Team (SAT) to be on alert in the Aegean Sea to prevent possible “provocative actions” from Greece, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on June 7.

The frigate and the gunboats will patrol the Aegean Sea 24/7, while SAT commandos will stand ready to act if needed.

According to the news service, drones belonging to the Turkish military are also regularly flying missions over the Aegean Sea.
Hurriyet Daily News
written by Anadolu Agency
Thursday June 7, 2018

A total of 590 undocumented migrants have been rounded up in recent days by the authorities across Turkey, security sources said on June 6.

Border guards seized 218 migrants in the northwestern province of Edirne’s Meriç and Lalapaşa districts, according to a security source who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

Among the migrants were Afghan, Pakistani, Palestinian, Iraqi, Moroccan, Algerian, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese nationals.
These people are escaping economic oppression of nations ruled by Islam and Marxist Communism. (emphasis mine)
In the eastern province of Van, gendarmerie units rounded up a total of 87 undocumented migrants, a security source said. Of them, 81 were Afghan nationals and six Pakistani nationals who entered the country by illegal means.

Separately, coast guard teams intercepted a rubber boat carrying 41 Syrian migrants, attempting to illegally cross over to Greek islands, in the Aegean Sea off the coast of İzmir province’s Seferihisar district.

In the Didim district of the Aegean province of Aydın, 43 undocumented migrants -- all Syrian nationals -- were taken in by security forces.

Also, customs officials rounded up seven undocumented Iraqi migrants, who were wrapped in aluminum foil inside a truck at Istanbul’s Pendik Ro-Ro Port.

In İzmir’s Urla, two Cubans, a Syrian, and 30 migrants from various African countries were rounded up.

In the eastern border province of Kars, 130 migrants including Afghan nationals were taken in.

In the central province of Kayseri, gendarmerie forces took in 34 undocumented migrants, including Afghans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who were travelling in a bus after entering Turkey by illegal means.

The security forces also apprehended three people for human trafficking.

Turkey has in recent years become a main route for refugees trying to cross into Europe, especially since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.

Daily Mail Published on Mar 9, 2018: Almost 1,200 migrants - some crammed onto overcrowded inflatable dinghies - have been picked up by Greek authorities in the eastern Aegean Sea in the past two days. The arrivals of men, women and children travelling from Turkey have mostly been on the islands of Kos, Lesvos, Chios and Farmakonissi - all close to Turkish shores. After Italy, financially crippled Greece is the main destination for refugees, mostly from war-ravaged Syria plus economic migrants seeking a better life in the EU. Hundreds were pictured making their way to a temporary shelter after arriving on Kos (main picture) after reaching the island's shore by inflatable dinghy (top left). The migrants even included a seven-month-old baby, pictured top right in the arms of her mother. Authorities have struggled to accommodate the refugees and at times have resorted to using the police station (bottom right).

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