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Greece 'Quickly and Effectively' Returns Irregular Migrants to Turkey

© REUTERS / Michalis KaragiannisRefugees and migrants walk after disembarking from passenger ferry Blue Star1 at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, February 20, 2016.
Refugees and migrants walk after disembarking from passenger ferry Blue Star1 at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Greece, February 20, 2016. - Sputnik International
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Greece is in the process of returning over 300 irregular migrants to Turkey in accordance with the EU-Turkey joint action plan to stem uncontrolled migrant flows to Europe, the European Commission said in a statement Wednesday.

Life jackets and a boat that were used by refugees and migrants to cross the Aegean sea from Turkey lie abandoned on a beach on the Greek Island of Lesbos on October 8, 2015. - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In November 2015, the European Union and Turkey approved a joint plan to counter excessive migration into the bloc, under which EU member states will give some $3.3 billion to Ankara and fast track negotiations for its accession to the bloc. In turn, Turkey is to help protect EU borders from illegal crossings, and is expected to agree to resettle refugees that have managed to get to Europe from Turkey.

"The Commission is today able to confirm that Greece is in the process of returning 308 irregular migrants to Turkey. The European Union is stepping up its efforts to ensure those who do not qualify for international protection in Europe will be quickly and effectively returned to their countries of origin or transit," the statement reads.

According to the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commission has reinforced its support for cooperation on the return of irregular migrants between EU Member States and Turkey and today's transfers from Greece to Turkey show that "our efforts are starting to bear fruit."

"We have to make sure that those who are in need of protection will receive it, but it has to be clear as well that those who have no right to stay in the EU will be quickly and effectively returned," the commissioner noted.

Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their home countries to escape violence and poverty. Many of them take the West Balkan route, which crosses Greece, using the county as an entry point into the bloc from which they travel onward to wealthier EU states where they intend to apply for asylum.

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