In spring 2016, European Union leaders decided to stem the migration flow from Turkey to Greece and additionally from Greece to other EU countries along the so-called ‘Balkan Route’.
#1 Balkan Route
The Balkan Route was officially closed after a cascade of border shutdowns in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and FYROM began on March 8th, 2016.
The decision to shut the route had already been made in February.
At a meeting of police chiefs from Austria and Balkan route nations, it was agreed to reduce the screening of migrants to a single point, at the FYROM border.
The closure of the route left trapped in various parts of Greece more than 30,000 migrants and refugees.
#2 EU-Turkey deal
EU leaders started to discuss with Turkey on an agreement to stop the migrant flow already in 2015.
On March 18th, 2016, EU and Turkish leaders reached an agreement aimed at stopping the flow of irregular migration, the so-called EU-Turkey statement (or ‘EU-Turkey deal’).
The main points of the deal are:
- Returns to Turkey: All new irregular migrants or asylum seekers whose applications have been declared inadmissible crossing from Turkey to the Greek islands as of 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey;
- One-to-one scheme for resettlement: For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled to the EU from Turkey.