The Turkish government has long deplored the fact that the EU has not paid the full €6 billion and that the EU is delaying accession negotiations and other agreements. The European Commission has asked to be different and says the money was paid entirely, albebe enough to refugee aid organisations and not directly to the Turkish state. Growing fears about the spread of the coronavirus in Europe have fuelled concerns about both uncontrolled human movement and conditions in migrant camps, with a case of COVID-19 disease diagnosed on March 9 in a camp on Lesvos. Some European politicians have referred to viral concerns to justify calls for a hardening of border police, including the suspension of asylum rights. A „cemetery“ with life jackets and boats in the north of the island is strongly reminiscent of the last massive influx of refugees in 2015/16. Lesvos has been at the heart of the refugee crisis for years, with thousands of people landing on its shores. There are currently more than 11,000 refugees spread across the islands. This figure is expected to increase sharply by the end of the year. Turkey announced last week that it would not block the passage of refugees wishing to reach Europe, due to escalating violence in northwestern Syria and the risk of a further influx of hundreds of thousands of people from the war-torn country across its southern border. In the past, Turkey has repeatedly threatened to advance such a measure and accused the EU of not keeping its promises. M. Borrell also said the new ceasefire agreement could facilitate increased EU humanitarian aid to Syria and refugees hosted in Turkey, without elaborating.
A series of disputes followed when refugees fought against the idea that Turkey was for them a safe country to which they could be sent. Greek courts have often ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, as Turkey is unable to offer effective protection and repeatedly deport people to conflict zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The 2016 coup attempt and the ensuing state of emergency put migrants and asylum seekers at increased risk of refoulement. Despite all this, the agreement between the EU and Turkey remains in force. Thousands of people are still trapped on the Greek islands, in a state of legal floating.