As Athens announced, 200 asylum seekers are planned to be sent back to Turkey each week (9,600 per year) after completion of refugee camps located on several islands in the Aegean Sea. Ankara is likely to be disgruntled with the decision as it would be a sharp increase compared to 2019 when only 189 irregular migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece were returned to Turkey.
Turkey currently hosts almost 4 million Syrian refugees and has spent more than 40 billion U.S dollars on accommodating them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011. Furthermore, it is likely that a continuous advance of the Syrian regime in Idlib will lead to another refugee wave from Syria to Turkey. With the Turkish public’s increasingly negative perception of the refugees, Ankara will be highly motivated to decrease the number of incoming migrants in general. Therefore, if Greece tries to implement the decision into practice, it will be most likely met with strong opposition from Ankara. In order to come to some agreement, Turkey will in all likelihood demand increased financial help from the EU.
Despite precautions, the influx of illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe via Turkey has been recently increasing. In consequence, Greek refugee camps with a capacity to host up to 20,000 migrants for three months at a time, which are supposed to be ready by summer, seem to be insufficient. Athens has even halted the plans to construct new detention centres because of the opposition from the local communities on the islands who fear the camps will become permanent. Moreover, it is not clear how Greece intends to practically execute its plan to return such a dramatically increased number of migrants to Turkey and so the Greek plan seems to be crumbling before it even starts and continuous deterioration of the migration crisis can be expected.
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into a broader context.
Responsible editor Matúš Jevčák.
Author: Andrea Hamzová
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