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Greece returns 60 migrants to Turkey as part of EU deal

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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The agreement between Turkey and the EU to curb the flow of migrants to Europe from Turkey gradually -- though slowly -- continues. On Friday, Greece, a gateway for migrants seeking to go to Europe, returned 60 people who sneaked into the country to Turkey. Fifty-six Pakistani nationals, three Bangladeshi nationals and one Nepalese national were brought to Turkey in the company of officials from FRONTEX, the EU border agency. The migrants boarded a ship to the Turkey's port of Güllük from the Greek island of Kos.

Anadolu Agency reported that Greek authorities rejected asylum for 21 migrants in the group, while three others withdrew their asylum application.

Since implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement in April 2016, 1,074 migrants have been returned to Turkey.

The number of migrants pouring into Europe via Turkey substantially decreased thanks to the agreement. However, Turkey is worried about the EU's reluctance to fulfill its commitment to the deal, especially its pledge of visa-free travel for Turkish nationals.

The deal envisaged a "one-for-one" formula in which failed asylum-seekers in Europe would be returned to Turkey, while Syrian refugees would be resettled in EU states under a quota system. The EU foresaw admitting 72,000 refugees from Turkey in line with the agreement.

A report recently released by the European Commission found the numbers promised in the deal have not been reached.

According to the commission's 11th Relocation and Resettlement Report, the number of relocations since last March is 16,340, far below the 160,000 goal.

The agreement, backed by tighter patrols of the Aegean Sea against immigrants, led to a significant decline in the number of migrants risking their lives to reach Europe. Once teeming with refugees waiting to board the first boat heading to the nearby Greek islands, the Aegean shores are now calm, save for the occasional group of illegal immigrants.

Despite the failure of the agreement on the part of the EU, figures show that the number of illegal immigrants who sought to reach to the Greek islands closest to the Turkish shores on dinghies has dropped by as much as 97 percent.

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