Greece could deport Afghans to Turkey: minister
The chaotic situation in Afghanistan precludes the direct deportation of Afghans denied asylum, but Turkey remains an option for Athens, the Greek migration minister said Wednesday.
"The reality is that no country can carry out returns towards Afghanistan," Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi told Skai TV.
"Nor do we have a clear image of what conditions will prevail in Afghanistan in coming months," following the Taliban's return to power, he said, adding, it was "still early" to say whether Greece would face a new refugee wave.
But Mitarachi noted: "We consider Turkey a safe country for Afghan citizens."
Greece has for months tried in vain to persuade Turkey to take back nearly 2,000 migrants whose asylum claims Athens has rejected.
For the time being, as tens of thousands of Afghans try to flee their country, the minister said Greece's priority is to evacuate EU nationals and locals who assisted Greek forces during the NATO mission there.
"The first priority is humanitarian... we are discussing the transport of a few families, (people who were) interpreters for the Greek army, or cooperated with us in whatever way," he said.
But Mitarachi insisted that with Greece already sheltering 40,000 Afghans, it would not again become a "gateway for irregular flows" after the huge influx of 2015.
"Twenty thousand of them are requesting asylum and 20,000 are recognised refugees," he said.
Mitarachi said Greece had made a "substantial" contribution on the issue, and that other countries "east of Greece" should assist in a potential refugee wave in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
"If the EU at some point decides on a more coordinated programme to legally relocate certain (vulnerable) groups, we will look at it," he said.