Germany to start returning migrants back to Greece

© Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP

Germany will start returning asylum seekers to Greece in a move that will end a five-year suspension of the EU's asylum rules.

"There was pressure from several EU countries on Greece to resume returns," Greek Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas told German public television channel ARD. "I understand that some EU governments want to show results to their voters," he added.

Greek authorities have received 392 requests and approved the return of "a small number" of asylum seekers from Germany and some other EU countries, Mouzalas said, as cited by Ekathimerini.

The EU's top court ruled in 2011 that conditions for asylum seekers in Greece were unacceptable, meaning that other countries couldn't send them back.

In December of last year, the European Commission recommendedthat EU countries finally reinstate the so-called Dublin regulations and gradually resume transfers to Greece of unauthorized migrants arriving from March 15 onwards.

Some countries have requested permission from Greece to return migrants, but none have been transferred since mid-March, Greek officials say.

"Greece has to give assurances that they have adequate reception conditions," European Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst said on Tuesday, as cited by AP.

Reception conditions in Greece have significantly improved since last year, which is why the commission recommended a gradual resumption of transfers, she added. The recommendation is not binding on EU countries.

The returns to Greece will affect only those asylum seekers who arrived in Germany and other EU countries from mid-March this year.

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