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Why Germany is considering returning asylum seekers to Greece

Germany is considering sending asylum seekers back to Greece, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere

“We have done a lot in Europe in order to improve the refugee situation in Greece,” de Maiziere told the “Welt am Sonntag” newspaper. “This must have consequences that will enable refugees to be sent back to Greece according to the Dublin regulations.”

The Dublin Regulation is the EU law that determines the EU Member State responsible to examine an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention.

Normally asylum seekers are required to apply for asylum in the first EU Member State they arrive in but the deficiencies in the Greek asylum processing system have made it difficult for the country to handle all the applications, DW reported. Germany has in fact suspended deportations back to Greece since 2011.

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Dr De Maiziere urged the EU to develop a common approach to refugees, adding that Germany could not implement such a policy alone. “When we tackle this problem alone, then there is the danger that in a short amount of time the administrative courts will block deportations,” he said.

Last year Germany received almost 1 million asylum seekers. Most of them first arrived in the EU through Greece. While not all of them qualify for asylum in Germany, processing asylum applications and deportation is a long and slow process, DW reported.