Germany wants to reinstate EU rules, the so-called Dublin regulation, which obliges asylum seekers to be sent back to Greece as the first EU country they reached, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in an interview.
Due to deficiencies in Greece’s asylum processing system and the large number of migrants and refugees arriving in the country, Berlin has suspended deportations back to Greece since 2011.
“The EU has since then provided financial and other support for Greek efforts, and given a lot of money to improve these conditions,” de Maiziere said.
“That is why I would like to see the Dublin Convention implemented again,” he said.
The German minister said Berlin recognized the burden shouldered by Greece in recent years.
“But we still need a strategy to restore the legal situation,” he said, adding that the issue would be discussed at a meeting of interior ministers in October.
“I would like the Dublin convention to be applied again… we will take up discussions on this in a meeting with (EU) interior ministers” de Maiziere told Kathimerini‘s Sunday edition.
The Dublin accord gives responsibility for asylum seekers’ application to the first country they reach — which put Greece on the frontline of more than a million migrants who arrived in the EU last year.
The accord also says asylum seekers should be sent back to the first country they arrived in if they subsequently reach another EU state before their case is examined.
A huge proportion of the migrants ended up in Germany.
But this clause was suspended for Greece in 2011 after the country lost an EU legal complaint which condemned the mistreatment of migrants seeking international protection.
“Since then, the EU has provided substantial support, not only financially,” to Greece to improve its asylum seeker procedures, the German minister said.
De Maiziere had already in August highlighted the need to reinstate the Dublin rules, provoking an outcry from Athens.
Greece stressed it was already coping with over 60,000 refugees and migrants blocked on its territory after countries further north on the so-called Balkan route closed their borders to the massive influx, notably fleeing the Syrian conflict.
De Maiziere said he was conscious of the “strong reactions” of Greeks, as well as the huge number of migrants being dealt with by Greece as an EU frontline state.
But “that doesn’t annul the need” to reinstate the Dublin rules, he said, stressing that “criticism of the convention not being applied keeps increasing in Germany.”
The minister, who has just revised the number of asylum seekers who arrived in Germany last year to 890,000 — down from a previous estimate of 1.1 million — reiterated Berlin’s commitment to taking its share of refugees who arrived in Greece and Italy in 2015 and the start of 2016.
“Germany is ready to welcome up to 500 people per month” from the two countries, he said, according to AFP.
PS what? Germany wants asylum seekers back to Greece, while it will welcome 500 from Greece and Italy per month? Pinch me! I think my eyes and my brain cells are not connected. Or it is the same failed EU turkey Deal policy that wants Syrian refugees to be returned to Turkey from Greece, while the EU will accept a Syrian refugee from Turkey on 1:1 basis.