Angela Merkel (L) with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras .jpg
Photograph: EPA/JOHN THYS / POOL

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to more quickly send experts to Greece to support the implementation of a widely-criticized pact between the EU and Ankara to send thousands of asylum seekers back to Turkey.

During a phone conversation, Tsipras called on Merkel to quickly deploy experts, put pressure on Turkey to crack down on smugglers and strengthen the NATO deployment in the Aegean Sea, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said Tuesday.

The pact, approved by EU and Turkish leaders in Brussels last week, requires all migrants arriving in the Greek islands from March 20 who do not qualify for asylum to be returned to Turkey.

The deal will cost 280 million euros (314 million dollars) over the next six months, an EU source said, and will require the deployment of 4,000 asylum experts, judges, translators, security personnel, police and others to Greece, according to the European Commission.

From April 4, the EU plans to start resettling one Syrian asylum seeker directly out of Turkey for every Syrian refugee returned to the country from Greece, up to a maximum of 72,000 people.

Germany's Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) announced on Tuesday that a group of five experts would leave for Greece "in the coming days" to assess the situation on the ground.

A spokesman said that a total of 100 asylum experts and administrative personnel would be deployed in due course, many of whom have Greek and Arabic language skills.

Merkel has been one of the main proponents of the deal, as she resists demands from domestic critics to ramp up German border controls and place a cap on the number of new arrivals.

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