GREEK AUTHORITIES DECLARE TURKEY SAFE FOR AFGHAN, BANGLADESHI, SYRIAN, SOMALI AND PAKISTANI NATIONALS
Yesterday, the Greek authorities furthered Europe’s border externalisation policy through the formal designation of Turkey as a safe country for Afghan, Syrian, Somali, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals.
Announced in a new Joint Ministerial Decision, this means that all new asylum claims made by people of these nationalities may face expedited examination of their claim, and likely will have their application for asylum rejected as ‘inadmissible’ on the grounds that Turkey is a safe country for them – meaning that they could be “readmitted” (deportated) to Turkey, without an examination of the merits of their asylum claim – i.e. the reason they left their home country. The populations targeted are by no means surprising: as of April 2021, the majority of the migrant population on the Aegean islands are from Afghanistan (50%), Syria (15%) and Somalia (8%).
Turkey is not a safe third country for migrants. Most migrants are unable to access any form of protection in Turkey, owing to a geographic restriction that it imposed to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, and migrants there are at grave risk of exploitation, inhumane detention, and deportation. Only Syrian nationals are able to obtain a form of temporary protection, which falls far short of refugee protection and, in practice, provides little defence against refoulement.
The EU-Turkey Statement had a clear mandate to exclude all new arrivals from obtaining international protection in Europe, and to confine those who did arrive in liminal European territory until they could be returned. However, since the codification of the EU-Turkey Statement into Greek law in 2016, only Syrian nationals have been found “inadmissible” on the (objectively erroneous) grounds that Turkey is a safe country from which they could seek and obtain international protection. This was despite political pressure from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to reject all asylum claims as inadmissible since the EU-Turkey Statement’s implementation.
Yesterday’s decision expanding the notion that Turkey is “safe” for five additional nationalities is indeed a step further in “the full and unconditional implementation” of the EU-Turkey Statement, as confirmed by Minister of Migration and Asylum N. Mitarachis. Moreover, it is an explicit and unapologetic endorsement of Europe’s drive to exclude migrants from its territory, which are manifest in its policies of systematic violence and continued, fatal disregard for migrant lives.
Αριθμ. 42799, Καθορισμός τρίτων χωρών που χαρακτηρίζονται ως ασφαλείς και κατάρτιση εθνικού καταλόγου, κατά τα οριζόμενα στο άρθρο 86 του ν. 4636/2019 (Α’ 169).