EU vows no blanket returns of migrants to Turkey

2016-03-16 22:01
A child sleeps as refugees wait to be allowed to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni . (Petros Giannakouris, AP)

A child sleeps as refugees wait to be allowed to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni . (Petros Giannakouris, AP)

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Brussels - The EU denied on Wednesday that its planned deal to return all migrants who land in Greece to Turkey would break international law, saying there would be no mass expulsions.

"There can be no blanket returns," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told a press conference on the eve of a summit at which Brussels and Ankara hope to seal the agreement.

"We are not turning our back on the refugees because they will be assured adequate international protection, either in the EU or in Turkey."

Timmermans added: "Returns can only take place in accordance with the international and EU legal framework... the case of each person needs to be assessed individually in the light of the charter of fundamental rights and European directives."

Under the plan hailed as a "game-changer", Turkey would seek to stop the dangerous sea journeys of refugees and take back all illegal migrants from Greece.

For each Syrian it takes back, it would send another one on to the EU in a more orderly redistribution programme.

EU President Donald Tusk who will host the summit has admitted the deal needs to be "rebalanced", especially in terms of whether it is legal when it comes to the right to seek asylum and how such a request is processed.

Read more on:    eu  |  greece  |  turkey  |  migrants

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