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Spain refuses to sign EU refugee 'collective return' agreement with Turkey: “It's illegal and violates human rights”
SPAIN has rejected the EU's plan for the collective returning of war refugees to Turkey or their original country, saying it considered the deal 'unacceptable from the start'.
“The Spanish government will never accept an agreement which, by definition, goes against international law and human rights,” stated caretaking foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo.
“Spain radically opposes any expulsion of entire groups, and instead requests individual treatment and the postponement of any deportations until this issue is resolved – and, if anyone does have to be sent back to where they came from, we want guarantees that refugees will be safe and protected.”
Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu had agreed, during an EU summit last Monday (March 7), to take on the immigrants and asylum seekers who had managed to reach Greece after a hazardous, life-threatening journey by sea that many did not survive.
At the same time, the government in Ankara wanted an additional €3 billion – on top of the €3bn the EU had promised to pay them this and next year – to fund refugee care and resettlement.
And in exchange for handling the refugee influx, Davutoglu said he wanted the EU to speed up Turkey's application to enter the Union and to expedite a relaxation on visa requirements for Turkish citizens travelling to Europe.
García-Margallo, however, insisted that if any migrants were sent back, this 'had to be to a safe country'.
Turkey, although it had signed the Geneva Convention on refugees, it had not signed up to the procedures that extend human rights enjoyed by signatory countries to citizens of other nations, such as Syria.
“Turkey has guaranteed it will adopt equivalent measures to these procedures to ensure total protection for refugees,” García-Margallo revealed, and added that it was 'a comfort to him' to hear that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was also working actively on this issues.
García-Margallo concluded that the agreement with Turkey contravened the Geneva Convention on asylum seekers, as well as EU treaties, Article 78 of the Working Treaty of the European Union, plus EU directives on the return of asylum seekers.
“These defects need to be corrected before we will agree to any deal,” he said firmly.
“We will only accept and agreement in black on white which is consistent, compatible with and in compliance with all international laws on the subject and which respects the rights of the persons involved.
“Applications for asylum made in Greece have to be processed in Greece, in accordance with the Dublin agreement.”
This agreement means the country where a would-be refugee seeks asylum at the border must be the one to handle the request.
Many Syrians who had made it to Greece, however, have now managed to cross the border into neighbouring Macedonia by river, some carrying young children on their shoulders and a few even carting folded wheelchairs whilst others lifted their disabled or elderly relatives across the water.
Initially, Spain's acting president Mariano Rajoy, of the right-wing PP, was on the verge of signing the agreement with Turkey – but many of his own cabinet, plus all of the opposition MPs without exception, opposed it so vocally that the caretaking country leader was forced to back down and run with the majority view.
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