Migration minister: All gov'ts have faced difficulty convincing Turkey to readmit migrants

Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas rejected on Friday criticism the government has not done enough to pressure Turkey to implement the Readmission Agreement, saying consecutive governments faced the same difficulties convincing the neighboring country to take action.

Responding to questions from the main opposition on the refugee crisis in parliament, Mouzalas said in 2014, Greece submitted 409 requests to Turkey to readmit 9,691 people of which only 470 were accepted, while in 2015 it made 605 requests for 9,300 people, but only 2,624 readmissions were accepted. “You had the problem and we have it too,” the minister told lawmakers of the main opposition who raised the issue.

Commenting on claims that the government is refusing to return migrants to countries of origin, Mouzalas presented figures which showed that 10,390 returns have taken place in 2015 and 11,668 in 2014.

Asked why the government is accepting the settlement of 50,000 refugees in Greece, the minister said this claim is false, as this will be a temporary settlement of people which will be divided as follows: 7,000-10,000 will stay in the so-called hotspots, 20,000 in subsidized rental locations and 20,000 in refugee camps which the government, along with the UN's refugee agency is trying to “break down” to smaller ones.

Concerning claims of some opposition lawmakers that the creation of hotspots on the islands will hurt tourism, Mouzalas said the registration centers need to be created where the refugees disembark. “It is not some perverse view of my own, the government’s of Europe’s” he said and noted that these centers are the only way to reduce the damage in tourism.

“The increase in flows creates the identification centers. It’s not the identification centers that create the flows,” he explained.

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