Netherlands plans to send back refugees from Greece to Turkey

A European plan to ferry back refugees from the Greek islands to Turkey has been presented by the Netherlands, which currently holds the European Union presidency, the leader of the ruling Social Democrats told daily De Volkskrant on Thursday.

The plan was currently being worked out in several European Union member states, including Germany, Diederik Samsom said.

According to the plan, EU member states would pledge to take up to 250,000 refugees a year in return.

Under those conditions, Turkey would agree to take the refugees back, the Dutch politician said.

"Turkey still has to adapt some laws and improve the situation of Syrian asylum seekers. It has to become a safe country," he said.

The first ferries could be running from March or April, he added.

The Dutch government is hoping for a significant reduction in the number of asylum seekers in close collaboration with a core group of EU member states.

"Recently, an express highway has been created between Greece and Turkey, and we have to put a halt to this," Samson told Dutch radio.

Both Samson and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have had intensive discussions with Germany, Sweden and Austria on the matter, he said.

The countries were hoping for France, Spain and Portugal to join the initiative and for Britain to be prepared to take in refugees, he added.

Last update: Wed, 22/06/2016 - 14:53

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