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    First Syrian refugees from Greece expected to Belgium

    The first 20 refugees that Belgium has agreed to receive will arrive on 25 May. The Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, informed the parliament on Tuesday (9 May) about the EU agreement on the relocation of refugees in Greece and Italy to other Member States. Belgium has committed to accommodate 200 refugees who have arrived in Greece.

    Belgium is also committed to receive 250 refugees who currently are in Turkey. “The agreement with Turkey will never receive an award in a beauty contest but it is very effective,” commented Francken.

    In January this year, some 62,000 refugees had arrived on the Greek islands. Since then the number has increased with 4,000.

    The number of refugees who drowned in the Aegean Sea fell to ten, against “hundreds” in the previous months, Francken said. Since 20 March, 386 migrants were returned from Greece to Turkey because they did not apply for asylum in Greece.

    As regards the visa liberalization agreement with Turkey – which is part of the overall political agreement between the EU and Turkey – Francken said that it would be implemented late in June if and when all the conditions were met.

    One of the conditions concerns narrowing the application of anti-terrorism legislation. The Turkish President Erdogan said recently that Turkey “will not change its anti-terror law for the sake of a visa deal.”

    “We will go our way,” he reportedly said in Istanbul last Friday. “You go yours.”

     This constitutes a “gigantic problem” according to Francken.

    The Brussels Times (Source: Belga)