"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.