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    Belgium able to return asylum seekers to Greece

    The Secretary of State for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken (N-VA) obtained confirmation on Wednesday from the Greek Minister with responsibility for Migration, Ioannis Mouzalasa, that Greece “will once again ‘take back’ two of the eight asylum seekers. Belgium has been trying to return these for several months. La Libre Belgique is reporting this on Thursday. Ioannis Mouzalasa stated that Greece will “once again [accept] the so-called ‘Dubliners’”. This is also reported in Het Laatste Nieuws and De Morgen. He added, “However we are doing this uniquely for the countries which have helped us.” He stressed the strong collaboration with Belgium.

    In exchange, Theo Francken, who visited the “hotspot” installed on the island of Kos, promised to redeploy Belgian asylum experts on the Greek islands in the coming weeks. The objective of the Secretary of State’s visit was to re-establish the procedure dictated by the Dublin Regulation. Under these rules the country where the asylum seeker makes his first asylum application should be the one which processes the application. Up to now, Athens has refused eight individuals which the Belgian state has “proved, thanks to their digital fingerprint, that they entered Europe via Greece.” This point was made by Thomas Moens, Deputy Leader of Francken’s department, and resumed by La Libre Belgique.

    In an interview published in La Dernière Heure, the same Theo Francken asserted that “nobody meets the conditions to be transferred” in Belgium, according to undertakings at EU level. He went on, ”Only the Syrians and the Eritreans are still being accepted in. The opposition has not stopped criticising me about this. However, it is absurd!…For the moment, we have welcomed 779 individuals (out of a total of 4,000 needed, editor’s note). If new individuals returning fall within the criteria to come to Belgium, I will of course keep my word.”

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times