Greece says migrants in Turkey could seek asylum there

Greece on June 7 announced that applications for asylum filed by individuals in Turkey will no longer be accepted. 

"Turkey is designated a safe country for asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia," said a joint decision by the Greek Foreign Ministry as well as the Migration and Asylum Ministry.

Arguing that Turkey meets all conditions for living conditions and human rights of certain categories of applicants for international protection, the Greek decision said applicants whose origin is from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Somalia are not considered to be in any danger in Turkey due to their race, religion, citizenship, or political beliefs.

On the decision, Greek Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi said: "The designation of Turkey as a safe third country is an important step in tackling illegal migration flows and the criminal activity of smuggling networks."

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.

Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum seekers aiming to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those escaping war and persecution.

More than 265,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, according to the Interior Ministry.

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