Athens [Greece], January 15 (ANI/Xinhua): Greece’s migration ministry said on Thursday that it has submitted a request to the European Commission and the European Union (EU) border agency Frontex for the immediate return of 1,450 migrants to Turkey.

The migrants had arrived from Turkey and “are not entitled to international protection”, the ministry said in a press statement, calling on Ankara to better implement the 2016 migrant agreement between the EU and Turkey.

The deal, which came into effect in March 2016, was designed to stem hundreds of thousands of migrants heading into Europe. In exchange, Turkey would receive Euro 6 billion (about USD 7.3 billion) from European countries to assist refugee communities.

Under the deal, migrants arriving in Greece are expected to be sent back to Turkey if their asylum applications are rejected.

Turkey, which hosts millions of refugees and migrants, has long accused the EU of falling short of financial commitments. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that the migration deal was not working and needed to be revised.

According to the Greek statement, only 139 migrants returned to Turkey in 2020 as Ankara has stopped the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Greece is ready to safely return migrants… by respecting the international law and applying all necessary health protocols”, the Greek ministry said.

The two neighbours have long been engaged in a war of words over migration issues and maritime rights in dispute waters. (ANI/Xinhua)

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