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Greek govt’ spokeswoman: We will not legislate for “Turkey as Safe Third Country”

While Greece’s European partners awaiting for Greece to pass legislation to accept Turkey as “safe 3rd country” in order to accelerate sending back refugees and migrants arriving after March 20th, Athens does not seem willing to do so.

Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said so during a press briefing on Wednesday.

There is no need for such legislation. We will not legislate for Turkey as a safe third country. There is not in this context, as you can see, and because the refugees will be considered individually and not collectively. According to each case, it will be examined also if it is safe that this specific person to return, to be returned to another country. Do not forget that countries other than Turkey, could not be a safe destination for a refugee. This will depend on the individual cases and specifically to what it will be applied for each one of the refugees.” (transcript of the pres briefing via Gerovasili’s website)

Is Turkey a safe country?

According to EU Asylum Procedures Directive: What is a ‘Safe country of origin’?

International Law (the Geneva Convention) and EU law (the Asylum Procedures Directive) consider a country safe when there is a democratic system and generally and consistently:
– No persecution
– No torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
– No threat of violence
– No armed conflict
The same EU Directive notes about Turkey
– 23.1% of applications were well-founded in 2014

– 1 Member State already designates as a safe country of origin
– An EU candidate country
Not all EU member states consider the same third countries as safe.

The Human Rights Watch expresses concerns about Turkey’s qualification as a “safe third country” stressing among others

“The directive requires allowing anyone returned to a “safe third country” to request refugee status.

But any Syrian, Iraqi, or Afghan returned to Turkey would not be allowed to request refugee status there because Turkey excludes non-Europeans from qualifying for refugee status.

The directive also requires the safe third country to respect the principle of nonrefoulement, the prohibition on the forced return of refugees. That principle not only forbids governments from deporting refugees to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened but also from rejecting asylum seekers at their borders who would face such threats.

At the very time the EU was announcing its migration control deal, Turkey had closed its border to tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing bombs and bullets in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, a massive and egregious flouting of this norm of customary international law.

The HRW underlines that these allow ” a giant loophole for potential abuse” of the asylum seekers.

One more important point, IMHO, is that Turkey is in armed conflict with its own Kurdish population due to the PKK and this would be reason One to not been considered as ‘safe country”. Furthermore, also for this reason, Turkey most probably will reject to take back, any asylum seeker born in South-East Turkey and Kurdish-held areas from Syria.

PS But the EU is reliefed to have all refugees rather in Turkey than in its own soil…

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  1. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    Turkey will take back some Kurds to call’em terrorists, throw’em in jail or have accidents on the way, host much more to proof to be a safe country and will find some to tell welcomed stories about YPG.

  2. Initially, I was elated to read this. However, I have a reservation — if Gerasovili means that Greece will not legislate stating that Turkey is a safe country but will informally do this in the asylum process. that way, of course, there would be no public debate…

    • keeptalkinggreece

      later today Turkey said , it will do do anything to be a safe you probably read in this article, HRW has more reservations than Greece

  3. From a UNHCR report yetserday:

    “The Greek authorities are submitting a draft legislation to the Parliament in order to integrate some key elements of EU Directive on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (EU Asylum Procedure Directive). It is a prerequisite to the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement.”

    This means that they are intending to deny refugee protection to Syrians on the grounds that Turkey is a safe country. The Greek government is lying.