Greece wants European Union to sanction countries that refuse deported migrants, minister says

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece is urging other European Union member states to adopt a proposed plan to sanction countries that refuse to accept migrants deported by the bloc.

Dimitris Kairidis, the Greek minister for asylum and migration, said existing bilateral agreements for returning migrants between individual EU member states and non-member countries had proved to be ineffective.

“Europe must demand that these countries take back their citizens. Otherwise, there would be sanctions and no financial aid. Europe has the authority to impose its will on this issue,” Kairidis told state television late Tuesday.

He said the sanctions proposal is being discussed in the final stages of negotiations for a new EU-wide overhaul of migration rules. Failure to implement a viable deportation policy, the Greek minister argued, would “make Europe a laughingstock over its asylum process.”

Greece and nearby Italy are currently dealing with a spike in migrant arrivals that has renewed pressure within the EU to finalize the migration deal.

Authorities said 88 migrants from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan – including 20 children – were rescued from a boat in distress Wednesday off the southern Peloponnese region, with the help of a passing oil tanker.

Hours earlier 82 migrants were rescued near the eastern island of Symi.

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