Refugees excluded in Greece: Designation of Turkey as a “safe third country”

Refugees excluded in Greece: Designation of Turkey as a “safe third country”

The undersigned organisations are organising an online press conference on Wednesday, 14 July, at 12:00 EEST, on the tightening policy of exclusion of refugees fleeing to Greece, following the latest decision of the Greek government to designate Turkey as a “safe third country”.

On June 7, 2021, the Minister of Migration and Asylum and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs designated Turkey as a “safe third country” for all asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Asylum seekers from these nationalities represent more than 67% of asylum seekers in the country.

The implementation of this decision leaves no room for misinterpretation. It has already resulted in asylum seekers being denied protection within barely a few days of their arrival, following asylum interviews of just a few minutes, without any assessment of their vulnerabilities and with no access to information and legal representation. It is the culmination of a policy that began in Greece in 2016, through the implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement. It is a measure aimed at deterring refugees from reaching Greece and Europe, and at returning those that manage to arrive through any means – legal and illegal.

This measure will also lead to the emergence of a new population of undocumented and unprotected foreign nationals, intensifying the phenomena that led to Greece’s condemnation by the European Court of Human Rights in 2011 in the case of MSS vs Belgium and Greece. We also recall that Greece remains to this day under the supervision of the Council of Europe with regards to the execution of the Court’s 2011 Judgement.

The decision to designate Turkey as a “safe third country” also comes against the backdrop of:

  • ongoing pushbacks of refugees from Greece’s land and sea borders (Evros region and the Aegean islands), which have escalated since March 2020. This is a practice that puts refugees’ lives at risk, blatantly violates their rights, while undermining democratic values and the rule of law and shaming our country internationally.
  • the lack of a coherent policy to support the integration of recognized refugees, which, indeed, is challenged as a process by the country’s financial situation, but is also actively hindered by the policies of the competent Greek Ministry. The most recent example is the decision to terminate the small financial aid provided to self-accommodated asylum seekers through EU funds, which obstructs their efforts to regain self-reliance, at the expense of integration prospects in the country.
  • the gradual transformation of the country’s reception facilities into closed (islands) and controlled centers (mainland), and the increase in detention places, which indicate a willingness to regress to a regime of generalised detention and to isolated and forced asylum seekers and refugees in a state of ‘ghetoisation’.

We invite you to join us on Wednesday, 14 July, at 12:00 EEST time at a live press conference that will be broadcasted through YouTube ( and Facebook (   where we will discuss these developments and their significance for the rights of refugees and the rule of law in Greece.

List of participants

  • A.B and H.C, refugees directly impacted by the measure
  • Catherine Woollard, Secretary General, European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE)
  • Karl Kopp, Director of European Affairs, PRO ASYL
  • Alexandros Konstantinou, Scientific Advisor, Greek Council for Refugees (GCR)
  • Yonous Muhammadi, Director, Greek Forum of Refugees
  • Lefteris Papagiannakis, Member of the BoD, Hellenic League for Human Rights
  • Marianna Tzeferakou, lawyer, Refugee Support Aegean (RSA)

The discussion will be coordinated by Daphne Tolis, journalist


*The discussion will take place in English

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