Turkey designated 'safe country' for first time by Greece

Joint decision issued by Foreign and Migration Ministries

08 June, 12:02

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, 08 GIU - Greece made a landmark announcement on Monday by designating Turkey as a "safe country" for asylum seekers for the first time.

    The announcement refers to refugees and migrants who are seeking asylum from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia, according to a media statement released by both the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry for Migration and Asylum.

    The decision is based on a recent recommendation by Greece's Asylum service and all the latest information regarding the living conditions and human rights enjoyed by these particular groups of asylum seekers. It has been established that these groups face no risk on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, political belief or social status.

    Greek migration minister Notis Mitarakis said of the development: "Designating Turkey as a safe third country is an important step in tackling illegal immigration flows and the criminal activity of smuggling networks." He continued: "As a product of cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, this joint ministerial decision is fully in line with international law and shields Greece's legal arsenal against requests from those citizens from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Pakistan. Somalia who objectively speaking have no reason not to consider Turkey as not a safe country." Mitarakis concluded: "Above all, however, it is another step towards the full and unwavering implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Declaration, which obliges our neighboring country not to allow the operation of smuggling circuits and transit in Greece." Meanwhile, in related developments, Mitarakis also said that Greece's vaccination program for refugees and migrants on the country's islands, codenamed "Blue Freedom", was "evolving smoothly".

    Mitarakis and the head of Greece's national health service, the EODY, Panagiotis Arkoumaneas, paid a visit to the hospital of Chios in the North East Aegean on Friday to check on the progress being made and thank the health professionals for their ongoing efforts.

    Mitarakis said: "It is very important that 'Blue Freedom' is evolving smoothly and that the people on Chios are coming to be vaccinated. This wall of immunity will help us move forward." Arkoumaneas echoed Mitarakis' sentiments, saying: "We have to build the wall of immunity in the coming months for all of us, because yes we see that there is a reduction in the pandemic but it is not over. It still needs our full attention." Mitarakis and Arkoumaneas visited the hospital on Chios and were briefed by the governor Mrs. Eleni Kantarakis, who said that the participation of the citizens overall is satisfactory, despite recent negative reports suggesting otherwise.

    Regarding the vaccinations on the Aegean islands, according to official statistics, only 15 percent of Greece's migrant population have stated so far that they are willing to get the vaccination.

    However, earlier last week, Greece's Minister of Health, Vassilis Kikilias, announced that the percentage of fully vaccinated across the islands amounts to 27%, noting that it is higher than 20.39% which is the corresponding percentage for the whole region. (ANSAmed).

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