Following the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016, the provisions concerning the “first country of asylum” and the “safe third country” concepts were applied for the first time in Greece vis-à-vis Turkey. Serious concerns about the compatibility of the ΕU-Turkey Statement with international and European law, and more precisely the application of the “safe third country” concept, have been raised since the publication of the Statement.
On 28 February 2017, the General Court of the European Union gave an order with regard to an action for annulment brought by two Pakistani nationals and one Afghan national against the EU-Turkey Statement. The order stated that “the EU-Turkey Statement, as published by means of Press Release No 144/16, cannot be regarded as a measure adopted by the European Council, or, moreover, by any other institution, body, office or agency of the European Union, or as revealing the existence of such a measure that corresponds to the contested measure.” Therefore, “the Court does not have jurisdiction to rule on the lawfulness of an international agreement concluded by the Member States.” The decision became final on 12 September 2018, as an appeal against it before the CJEU was rejected.
The “safe third country” concept is a ground for inadmissibility (see Admissibility Procedure).
According to Article 86 (1) IPA, a country shall be considered as a “safe third country” for a specific applicant when all the following criteria are cumulatively fulfilled:
- The applicant’s life and liberty are not threatened for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion;
- This country respects the principle of non-refoulement, in accordance with the Refugee Convention;
- The applicant is in no risk of suffering serious harm according to Article 15 of IPA;
- The country prohibits the removal of an applicant to a country where he or she risks to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in international law;
- The possibility to apply for refugee status exists and, if the applicant is recognised as a refugee, to receive protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention; and
The applicant has a connection with that country, under which it would be reasonable for the applicant to move to it. The transit of the applicant from a third country may, in combination with specific circumstances, in particular (a) the time of stay there, (b) any contact or objective and subjective possibility of contact with the authorities, for access to work or granting right of residence, (c) possible, prior to transit, residence such as long-term visits or studies, (d) existence of any, even distant, kinship, (e) existence of social or professional or cultural relations, (f) existence of property, (g) connection with a wider community; (h) knowledge of the language concerned; (i) geographical proximity of the country of origin, be considered as the applicant ‘s connection with the third country, on the basis of which it would be reasonable to move to it.
The IPA provides the possibility for the establishment of a list of safe third countries by way of Joint Ministerial Decision. On 7 June 2021, a new Joint Ministerial Decision of the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Migration and Asylum was issued, designating Turkey as “safe third country” in a national list for asylum seekers originating from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia. The aforementioned Joint Ministerial Decision was amended by a subsequent JMD under Article 86(3) IPA, declaring Turkey a safe third country for the said nationalities.The abovementioned JMD designates for the first time also Albania as a safe third country for people entering Greece from the Albanian-Greek borders, and North Macedonia as a safe third country for people entering the Greek territory from the borders between North Macedonia and Greece.  As a result, from the entry into force of the JMDs, the applications lodged by those nationalities can be rejected as “inadmissible” without being examined on the merits.
This resulted in a sharp increase in inadmissibility decisions based on the “safe third country” concept, from 2,839 in 2020 to 6,424 in 2021. Out of a total of 6,424 inadmissibility decisions based on the concept, 5,922 (92%) were issued in application of JMD 42799/2021. The number of asylum claims deemed admissible based on the JMD was 6,677. It is worth highlighting that the overwhelming majority of “safe third country” decisions (85%) concern the mainland, as only 979 out of 6,424 inadmissibility concern the border procedure on the Eastern Aegean islands and thereby the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement.
The criteria provided by IPA are to be assessed in each individual case, except where a third country has been declared as generally safe in the national list. Such provision seems to derogate from the duty to carry out an individualized assessment of the safety criteria where the applicant comes from a country included in the list of “safe third countries”, contrary to the Directive and to international law. Even where a country has been designated as generally safe, the authorities should conduct an individualized examination of the fulfillment of the safety criteria. Moreover, there should be a possibility to challenge both the general designation of a country as safe and the application of the concept in an individual case.
Up until the end of 2020, the safe third country concept was only applied in the context of the Fast-Track Border Procedure under Article 84 IPA on the islands for those arrived after 20 March 2016 and subject to the EU-Turkey Statement, and in particular vis-à-vis Syrians, who fall under the EU Turkey Statement, namely those who have entered Greece via the Greek Aegean islands and a geographical restriction is imposed to them.
Since June 2021, all applications for international protection submitted by nationals of Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh throughout the Greek territory are examined under the safe third country concept pursuant to JMD 42799/2021. Based on this new policy, asylum applications of people from the aforementioned five nationalities are not examined on the basis of their individual circumstances and the risks they face in their country of origin. Instead, they are presumed to be safe in Turkey, and only if Turkey is proven not to be safe, these applications are deemed ‘admissible’, and the competent decision authorities proceed to the examination of the applications for international protection on the merits. Three out of the five nationalities mentioned in the JMD 42799/03.06.2021 are those who are most often recognised as refugees in Greece. In 2020, before the said JMD, 92% of Syrians, 66% of Afghans, and 94% of Somalis (median acceptance rate: 84%) received refugee or subsidiary status. However, following the JMD, however, rejections have increased significantly.
In addition to the above, according to the official statistics of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum published in December 2021, “Returns under the EU- Turkey Statement have not been made since March  due to Covid-19 [and] despite the lifting of the measures for the pandemic, from 01/06[/2020] the requests of missions-returns of the Greek authorities have not been answered.”
Furthermore, the suspension of readmissions under the EU-Turkey Statement is publicly acknowledged by both the European Commission and the competent Ministers of the Greek government. The Minister of Citizen Protection explicitly stated at the end of last year that Turkey refuses to implement the Statement and invokes the COVID-19 pandemic as grounds for suspending readmissions. The Minister of Migration and Asylum noted in early 2022 that “Turkey has unilaterally suspended admission of those who do not qualify international protection since March 2020, under the pretext of COVID”. In a previous statement, the Minister stressed that Turkey “has refused to implement its commitments, and continues to refuse to engage in any way on the issue”. Besides, the Readmission Unit of the Migration Management Directorate of the Hellenic Police, in response to relevant questions submitted by GCR, systematically confirms the absence of any prospect of removal of refugees from the Eastern Aegean islands to Turkey, while the Administrative Court of Rhodes on judicial review of detention affirms the manifest lack of prospects of readmission to Turkey, highlighting that “the competent police authority does not invoke or produce evidence to the contrary, i.e. does demonstrate that it has taken any specific action to execute the readmission decision”.
Article 38(4) of the Asylum Procedures Directive, which provides that “where the third country does not permit the applicant to enter its territory, Member States shall ensure that access to a procedure is given in accordance with the basic principles and guarantees described in Chapter II”, was transposed into Greek law through Article 86(5) of the IPA, pursuant to which “when the safe third country does not allow the applicant to enter its territory, his/her application should be examined on the merits from the competent Authorities”.
Despite the suspension of returns to Turkey since March 2020, and the aforementioned provision of article 86(5) IPA, the Greek asylum authorities systematically applied the safe third country concept during 2021 vis-à-vis applicants originating from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, leading to a large number of applicants having their claims dismissed as inadmissible and being ordered to return to Turkey, without any prospects of such readmission. As many as 6,424 asylum applications were dismissed as inadmissible based on the safe third country concept in 2021, i.e. a 126% increase compared to the previous year. The overwhelming majority of those decisions (5,445) concerned the procedure on the mainland. Subsequent applications lodged following a final rejection of an application for international protection as inadmissible are channeled again into admissibility procedures and dismissed based on the safe third country concept or due to lack of new elements.
This practice exposes applicants for international protection to a legal limbo whereby they are not granted access to an examination of their applications on the merits, contrary to the purpose of the Geneva Convention and of the Asylum Procedures Directive. It also leads to exclusion of people from reception conditions, resulting in inability to have access to dignified living standards and to cater for their basic subsistence needs, including health care and food.
It should be stressed that “The Commission has requested the Greek authorities to apply Article 38(4) of the Asylum Procedures Directive (2013/32/EU), to the extent the conditions are met, to applicants whose applications have been deemed inadmissible on the basis of the Safe Third Country Concept under the Joint Ministerial Decision of 7 June 2021, in order to avoid the legal limbo you refer to. The Commission will continue to monitor the situation on the ground”.
Moreover, the Greek Ombudsman highlighted that “if readmission to that country is not possible, the application must be examined by the Greek authorities on the merits. Otherwise, this creates a perpetual cycle of admissibility assessments of applications for international protection, without ever examining their merits and without readmission to seek protection in the safe third country being possible. As a result, the fulfilment of the objective of the Geneva Convention and of relevant European and national legislation on refugee protection is essentially rendered null and void.” 
Besides, according to the second instance decision of the 21st Independent Committee of the Appeals Authority “such a position would only result in unnecessary delays in the examination procedure, given that, following the refusal of the third country to admit the applicant on its territory, their application would in any way have to be examined on the merits by the competent decision-making authorities. Such an interpretation would contravene the principle of rapid completion of said procedure, enshrined in Article 31(2) of the Directive and aiming, according to Recital 18, at serving the interests of both Member States and applicants […] given the practice followed by a particular country either generally or vis-à-vis specific categories of persons or vis-à-vis the individual applicant, that it will not accept the applicant’s admission to its territory, while it cannot be expected that its position will change in the future, therefore it must be accepted that the relevant application cannot be dismissed as inadmissible on the ground that said country is a ‘safe third country’ for that applicant, even if that country fulfils the substantive criteria set out in Article 38 of Directive 2013/32/EU and Article 86 of L 4636/2019. As a result, given, as discussed in the previous paragraph, the practice of absolute exclusion of returns of migrants/refugees who irregularly entered Greece through its territory, it is certain that Turkey will not allow the appellant to enter its territory”.
According to the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, “during the year 2021, Article 86(5) IPA was applied by the Independent Appeals Committees in 314 decisions.” Nevertheless, according to GCR’s and other NGO’s knowledge, the above mentioned was the only case during 2021 (and up until the time of publication of the present report) in which article 86 par. 5 IPA was applied.
According to internal SOPs that were circulated within the Asylum Service in autumn 2021, asylum seekers of these nationalities that had crossed from Turkey a year ago or more had passed since then must be considered as not having a special link with the country or that in any case the special link with Turkey had been breached. Subsequently, this was the rationale that was applied to the majority of such cases that have been examined before the RAOs on the islands, leading to admissibility decisions and an examination of the asylum applications on the merits. This was of great importance for all the cases of Syrians, or even Afghanis and Somalis that have been in the afore-mentioned “limbo” state in Greece for more than a year, many of whom were waiting for the examination of their subsequent applications. However, this was not a consistent practice. For instance, there were cases, where the Asylum Service applied the new JMD even to old arrivals’ cases that had been already referred to the regular procedure.
According to a decision issued by the Asylum Unit of International Protection Applicants under custody (AKA P. Ralli) “during the preliminary examination of the subsequent application and with regard to the existence of new and essential elements related to whether Turkey shall be considered as a Safe Third Country under Article 84 IPA … the Asylum Unit considers that the applicant’s claims may be perceived as new due to the fact that his connection to the third country need to be re-evaluated since a long period of time intervened between his first (lodged on 16.1.2020) and his subsequent application (lodged on 22.11.2021) without enforcing the decision to return to Turkey. According to GCR’s knowledge several first instance decisions with the same reasoning were issued at the end of 2021.
On 7 October 2021, GCR and Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) filed a judicial review before the Greek Council of State for the annulment of the JMD 42799/03.06.2021 designating Turkey as a safe third country for nationals of Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh. On 4 March 2022, requests for the continuation of the hearing were filed before the Council of State for the annulment of the subsequent JMD, 458568/15.12.2021, of the Minister of Migration and Asylum and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. The aforementioned application for annulment was examined before the Plenary of the Council of State on 11 March 2022. The decision is pending by the time of writing.
Applications lodged by Syrian, Afghan, Somali, Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals
In 2021, the Asylum Service issued 12,599 first instance decisions regarding applications lodged by Syrian (initially subject to the fast-track border procedure), Afghans, Somalis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis applicants, including third country nationals of Palestinian Origin with previous habitual residence Syria. The applications submitted by the aforementioned applicants were examined under the safe third country concept.
Since mid-2016, namely from the very first decisions applying the safe third country concept in the cases of Syrian nationals, until today, first instance decisions dismissing the applications of Syrian nationals as inadmissible on the basis that Turkey is a safe third country in the Fast-Track Border Procedure, are based on a pre-defined template provided to Regional Asylum Offices or Asylum Units on the islands, and are identical, except for the applicants’ personal details and a few lines mentioning their statements, and repetitive.
Specifically, the Asylum Service, reaches the conclusion that Turkey is a safe third country for Syrian nationals, relying on:
(a) the provisions of Turkish legal regime in force, i.e. the Turkish Law on Foreigners and International Protection (LFIP), published on 4 April 2013, the Turkish Temporary Protection Regulation (TPR), published on 2014 and the Regulation on Work Permit for Applicants for and Beneficiaries of International Protection, published on 26 April 2016, without taking into consideration its critical amendments, based on emergency measures;
(b) the letters, dated 2016, exchanged between the European Commission and Turkish authorities,
(c) the letters, dated 2016, exchanged between the European Commission and the Greek authorities,
(d) the 2016 letters of UNHCR to the Greek Asylum Service, regarding the implementation of Turkish law about temporary protection for Syrians returning from Greece to Turkey and
(e) sources, indicated only by title and link, without proceeding to any concrete reference and legal analysis of the parts they base their conclusions.
Although a number of more recent sources have been added to the endnotes of some decisions issued since late 2018 and up until today, their content is not at all assessed or taken into account and applications continue to be rejected as inadmissible on the same reasoning as before.
Accordingly, negative first instance decisions, qualifying Turkey as a safe third country for Syrians, are not only identical and repetitive – failing to provide an individualised assessment, in violation of Articles 10 and 38 of the Directive 2013/32/EU, but also outdated insofar, as they do not take into account developments after 2016, failing to meet their obligation to investigate ex officio the material originating from reliable and objective sources as regards the situation in Turkey, and the actual regime in the country, given the absolute nature of the protection afforded by Article 3 ECHR. It is worth noting that as regards negative first decisions qualifying Turkey as a safe third country for all the other nationalities, namely Afghans, Somalis, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, they are based inter alia on the aforementioned letters dated 2016, exchanged between the European Commission and Turkish authorities, the letters exchanged between the European Commission and the Greek authorities as well as the letters of UNHCR to the Greek Asylum Service. Nevertheless, it has to be highlighted that these letters, apart from the fact that they are outdated, they concern only Syrian nationals.
As the same template decision is used since 2016, the finding of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in 2017, that “admissibility decisions issued are consistently short, qualify Turkey as a safe third country and reject the application as inadmissible: this makes them practically unreviewable” remains valid. Respectively, as far as GCR is aware, second instance decisions issued by the Independent Appeals Committees for Syrian applicants systematically uphold the first instance inadmissibility decisions.
As mentioned above, during 2021, as a rule, applications examined under the Fast Track Border Procedure submitted by Syrians applicants are rejected as inadmissible on the basis of the safe third country concept. Since June 2021, applications submitted by nationals of Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh are also rejected as inadmissible based on JMD 42799/2021. However, as was also the case in previous years, in 2021 a number of first instance decisions issued for Syrian, Afghan, Somali and Pakistan applicants were declared admissible. As far as GCR is aware, such decisions include: certain applications filed by single women or single – parent families. However, is not common practice, since GCR is aware of cases with similar profiles, which have been rejected at first instance as Turkey has been considered as a safe third country for them- i.e. the application of a single woman from Somalia has been rejected as inadmissible by the RAO of Alimos on 7 September 2021. On the very same day, the same RAO issued a positive admissibility decision for another Somali woman with the same profile (single woman, vulnerable), pursuant to which her application for international protection was considered admissible.
For a detailed analysis of the first instance decisions rejecting applications submitted by Syrian as inadmissible on the basis of safe third country, see Admissibility, AIDA Report on Greece, update 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively. These findings are still relevant as the same template has been used since mid-2016.
An indicative example of a first instance inadmissibility decision can be found in the 2017 update of the AIDA report on Greece, which remains the same up until today.
Greece maintained the use of the fast-track border procedure under the derogation provisions of Article 90(3) IPA throughout 2021. In 2021 and as far as GCR is aware, most cases of Syrian applicants examined under the fast track border procedure have been rejected as inadmissible at second instance on the basis of the safe third country concept (i.e. 1,098 applications were found inadmissible and 233 admissible, while 254 cases were pending as of 31 December 2021).
Decisions under the fast-track border procedure [article 90(3)] and JMD 42799/2021
While the JMD 42799/2021 was in force from 7 June to 31 December 2021, a total of 2,000 decisions by the Committees of the Appeals Authority were issued under the fast-track border procedure [article 90(3) IPA] regarding the five main nationalities (Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan and Bangladesh) Out of the 2,000 decisions under the safe third country concept, 1,635 considered the applications “inadmissible”, (Syria: 542, Afghanistan: 417, Bangladesh: 126, Pakistan: 498 and Somalia: 52). The number of applications deemed admissible under the JMD by the Appeals Committees was 216, and the number of appeals pending by the end of the year reached 1,601. Similarly to previous years, it is worth noting that the statistics provided by the Ministry of Migration and Asylum continue to show inconsistencies.
Decisions under the JMD 42799/2021
During 2021, 4,062 decisions were issued under the JMD 42799/2021 from the Appeals Committee. Out of these decisions, 19 applications of Syrians, Afghans, Somalis, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis nationals, were deemed “inadmissible” (Afghanistan: 17, Pakistan: 2), while 1,140 were found as “admissible” (Syria: 13, Afghanistan: 265, Bangladesh: 142, Pakistan: 718, Somalia: 2).
Decisions of the Appeals Committees rejecting the case as inadmissible follow the line of reasoning of the Asylum Service to a great extent. Appeals Committees have continued to refrain from taking into consideration up-to-date, reliable sources of information concerning risks of inhuman or degrading treatment and refoulement facing individuals in Turkey. Even where reliable reports on risks of non-compliance by Turkey with the principle of non-refoulement are cited in decisions, Committees have not engaged with available evidence in their legal analysis of the applicability of the safety criteria of the “safe third country” concept and the risks of exposure of individuals to ill-treatment. Second instance decisions rely on the information provided by the letters of the Turkish authorities, considered as diplomatic assurances “of particular evidentiary value”, on the relevant legal framework of Turkey, without taking into consideration any amendment or its application in practice and on a selective use of available sources, so as to conclude in a stereotypical way that the safety criteria are fulfilled. In a number of decisions issued in 2021, the Appeals Committees cited the aforementioned letters and selected provisions of Turkish legislation as reliable evidence of compliance by Turkey with the principle of non-refoulement. In addition, Appeals Committee decisions in 2021 have dismissed alleged risks of refoulement on the ground that the evidence put forward by the appellants did not point to “structural problems” (δομικού χαρακτήρα), to “systematic violations” (συστηματικές παραβιάσεις) or to “mass refoulement” (μαζικές επαναπροωθήσεις) of Syrian refugees from Turkey.
To the knowledge of GCR, there have been certain appeals of Syrians, which have been considered as admissible at second instance.. For example, in a case of a Syrian single woman, victim of sexual violence supported by GCR, the Appeal Committee decided that in case of her return to Turkey, her physical integrity, as well as her mental health, will be endangered and may be subjected to inhuman treatment. Besides, two Appeals Committee’s’ decisions, issued in 2021, reversed the first instance inadmissible decisions in cases supported by RSA and declared the appeals as admissible (cases concerning two Syrian families with physical problems). The Committee considered that the safe third country concept with regards Turkey could not be applied in these cases, on the basis that the connection requirement was not satisfied. The Committee took into consideration the short stay of the applicants in Turkey, the lack of supportive network, the lack of any living or professional ties in that country, their inhumane treatment at the Syrian-Turkish borders from the Turkish authorities and the involvement of Turkey in the Syrian war”.
Few appeals of Syrians who used to reside in Syrian areas were Turkey has military activity have been considered admissible due to the fact that the condition of ‘connection’ could not be fulfilled given the violent military intervention of Turkey in their region of origin. Also, GCR is aware of a second instance decision which considered the appeal of a Syrian who remained in Turkey for the short period of 15 days as admissible, on the ground that transit per se shall not be conceived in itself sufficient or significant connection with the country.
Article 86(1)(f) IPA requires there to be a connection between the applicant and the “safe third country”, which would make return thereto reasonable. Whereas no further guidance was laid down in previous legislation as to the connections considered “reasonable” between an applicant and a third country, the IPA has introduced further detail in the determination of such a connection. Transit through a third country may be considered as such a connection in conjunction with specific circumstances such as:
- Length of stay;
- Possible contact or objective and subjective possibility of contact with the authorities for the purpose of access to the labour market or granting a right to residence;
- Stay prior to transit e.g. long-stay visits or studies;
- Presence of relatives, including distant relatives;
- Existence of social, professional or cultural ties;
- Existence of property;
- Connection to a broader community;
- Knowledge of the language concerned;
- Geographical proximity to the country of origin.
The article attempts to incorporate into Greek law the decision of the Plenary Session of the Council of State No 2347-2348/2017, which ruled on the resignation of Turkey as a safe third country for Syrian citizens. However, in view of the strong minority of 12 members out of a total of 25 advocating for the referral of a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judgment of the majority of the Plenary Session of the Council of State cannot be regarded as a reliable case-law, neither at a national, nor at European and International level, so as to be integrated in Greek law. It should be noted that among the issues raised in the Plenary Session, the issue of the applicant’s safe connection with the third country was of particular concern as well as whether the applicant’s simple transit through that country was sufficient in this respect, in combination with certain circumstances, such as the duration of their stay there and the proximity to their country of origin. Said provision adopts uncritically the rationale of the majority of the Plenary Session, despite the strong minority.
The compatibility of said provision with the EU acquis should be further assessed, in particular by taking into consideration the CJEU Decision, C‑564/18 (19 March 2020) in which the Court ruled that “the transit of the applicant from a third country cannot constitute as such a valid ground in order to be considered that the applicant could reasonably return in this country”.
Moreover, as no provision on the methodology to be followed by the authorities in order to assess whether a country qualifies as a “safe third country” for an individual applicant, the compatibility of national legislation with Art. 38 of the Directive 2013/32/EU should be assessed, in particular under the light of and the case law of the CJEU. To this regard, it should also be also mentioned that the lack of a “methodology” provided by national law, could render the provision non-applicable.
In practice, as it appears from first instance inadmissibility decisions issued to Syrian nationals, to the knowledge of GCR, the Asylum Service holds that the fact that an applicant would be subject to a temporary protection status upon return is sufficient in itself to establish a connection between the applicant and Turkey, even in cases of very short stays and in the absence of other links.
Respectively, the Appeals Committees find that the connection criteria can be considered established by taking into consideration inter alia the “large number of persons of the same ethnicity” living in Turkey, the “free will and choice” of the applicants to leave Turkey and “not organize their lives in Turkey”, “ethnic and/or cultural bonds” without further specification, the proximity of Turkey to Syria, and the presence of relatives or friends in Turkey without effective examination of their status and situation there. Additionally, in line with the 2017 rulings of the Council of State, transit from a third country, in conjunction with inter alia the length of stay in that country or the proximity of that country to the country of origin), is also considered by second instance decisions as sufficient for the fulfillment of the connection criteria. It should be recalled that in the case presented before the Council of State where the Court found that the connection criteria were fulfilled, that applicants had stayed in Turkey for periods of one month and two weeks respectively.
As mentioned above, as far as GCR is aware, a few second instance decisions issued in 2021 regarding Afghan and Syrian applicants examined under the safe third country concept have found that the safe third country requirements, including in some cases the connection criteria, were not fulfilled. In one case, the Appeals Committee deemed a 2-month stay in Turkey of an Afghan family as sufficient to establish a connection between them and the country, despite the fact that they were detained illegally in an unofficial detection centre in Turkey for a month. In another case, the three-week stay of a family was deemed sufficient per se to substantiate a connection.
Where an application is dismissed as inadmissible on the basis of the “safe third country” concept, the asylum seeker must be provided with a document informing the authorities of that country that his or her application has not been examined on the merits. This guarantee is complied with in practice.
 See e.g. NCHR, Έκθεση για τη συμφωνία ΕΕ–Τουρκίας της 18ης Μαρτίου 2016 για το προσφυγικό/μεταναστευτικό ζήτημα υπό το πρίσμα του Ν. 4375/2016, 25 April 2016, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/2mxAncu; Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Resolution 2109 (2016) “The situation of refugees and migrants under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March 2016”, available at: http://bit.ly/2fISxlY; United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on his mission to Greece, A/HRC/35/25/Add.2, 24 April 2017, available at: http://bit.ly/2rHF7kl, para 31.
 CJEU, Cases C-208/17 P, C-209/17 P and C-210/17 P NF, NG and NM v European Council, Order of 12 September 2018.
 In LH the CJEU examined the compatibility of said provision with Article 38(2) of the Recast Asylum Procedures Directive 2013/32/EU and ruled that “the transit of the applicant from a third country cannot constitute as such a valid ground in order to be considered that the applicant could reasonably return in this country”, C-564/18 (19 March 2020). Moreover, contrary to Article 38(2) of the Directive, national law does not foresee the methodology to be followed by the authorities in order to assess whether a country qualifies as a “safe third country” for an individual applicant.
 Article 86(3) IPA.
 Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Reply to parliamentary question, 97157/2022, 17 February 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3oXKvuD, 7-8; Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), The Greek asylum procedure in figures: most asylum seekers continue to qualify for international protection in 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3qH3qeo, 1-4.
 Article 86(2) IPA.
 EU-Turkey Statement: Six years of undermining refugee protection, 8 NGOs warn that policies implemented in Greece keep displaced people from accessing asylum procedures, despite clear need of protection, available in greek at: https://bit.ly/3tMP7GU, 1.
 European Commission, Turkey Report 2021, SWD(2021) 290, 19 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3DiPMTP, p.48; Reply to parliamentary question, Answer given by Ms Johansson
on behalf of the European Commission, Question reference: P-000604/2021, 1 June 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3IIx2hW; European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document: Turkey 2020 Report, 6 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3xgt4aK, 48.
 Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), Greece arbitrarily deems Turkey a “safe third country” in flagrant violation of rights, February 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3iIFsen, p. 3; Ministry of Migration and Asylum, “Request by Greece towards the EU for the immediate return 1,450 third country nationals under the Joint EU-Turkey Statement”, 14 January 2021, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3izPzmA.
 Administrative Court of Rhodes, ΑΡ515/2021, 16 December 2021, para 3; ΑΡ514/2021, 16 December 2021, para 3; ΑΡ450/2021, 3 November 2021, para 4; ΑΡ136/2021, 24 March 2021, para 4; ΑΡ122/2021, 4 March 2021.
 L. 4636/2019, Gov. Gazette A’ 169/01.11.2019.
 European Commission, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs, Ref.Ares(2021)7836311, 17 December 2021.
 Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), Greece arbitrarily deems Turkey a “safe third country” in flagrant violation of rights, February 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3iIFsen, p.5; Ombudsman, Letters 301551/41050/2021 and 301755/41017/2021, 22 July 2021.
 21st Appeals Committee, 364000/2021, 4 November 2021, case represented by the Legal Aid Unit of the NGO “METAdrasi”
 Decision 414002/25.11.2021
 ECRE, The role of EASO operations in national asylum systems, An analysis of the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Operations involving deployment of experts in asylum procedures at Member State level, 29 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2RVALRt, 33 and 35, ECRE et al., The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece, December 2016, 38. On Lesvos, see GCR, GCR Mission to Lesvos – November 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kbN7F0, 20; On Samos, see GCR, GCR Mission to Samos – June 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kCHMDm, 20 On Leros and Kos, see GCR, GCR Mission to Leros and Kos – May to November 2016, 32.
 Turkey: Law No. 6458 of 2013 on Foreigners and International Protection, 4 April 2013, as amended by the Emergency Decree No 676, 29 October 2016, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5167fbb20.html.
 National Legislative Bodies / National Authorities, Turkey: Temporary Protection Regulation, 22 October 2014, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/56572fd74.html
 National Legislative Bodies / National Authorities, Turkey: Regulation on Work Permit of International Protection Applicants and International Protection Status Holders, 26 April 2016, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/582c6ff54.html.
 Venice Commission, Opinion No. 865 / 2016, Opinion on the Emergency Decree Laws Nos. 667-676 adopted following the failed coup of 15 July 2016, adopted at its 109th plenary session, 9-10 December 2016, Doc. CDL-AD(2016)037, available at: https://bit.ly/3tK5YKt; International Commission of Jurists, Turkey: Justice suspended, Access to justice and the State of Emergency in Turkey, p. 2, available at: https://bit.ly/3DlcsTi, 2.
 Letters between the European Commission and the Turkish and Greek authorities, available at: https://bit.ly/2ygrz32.
 ACCORD, Turkey COI Compilation, August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3iKTfRv; Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Turkey’s involvement in Libya war | 150 Syrian children recruited and sent to fight in Libya, 16 killed, May 13, 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3iIE2QT; UD Department Of State: 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Turkey, available at: https://bit.ly/3wMJaM1; European Asylum Support Office, Syria: Internally displaced persons, returnees and internal mobility, April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/35nygBg; ECRE – European Council on Refugees and Exiles: Country Report: Turkey, April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3wKv5i6; Report: Turkey, 2019 Update, 30 April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3wLBmu1; European Commission, European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, ECHO Factsheet Turkey: Refugee Crisis, Last updated 17/05/2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3JJyaml; Republic of Turkey, Regulation on Work Permit of International Protection Applicants and International Protection Status Holders, 26 April 2016 (Unofficial translation by UNHCR Turkey), available at: https://bit.ly/3INTB4y, Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Turkey, 30 March 2021, https://bit.ly/3xonaaJ; European Commission, Turkey 2020 Report [SWD(2020) 355 final], 6 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/38aSyyW; UNHCR, Key information for non-Syrians, Livelihoods, undated, available at: https://bit.ly/3Djkufi; AAN, Afghan Exodus: Migrant in Turkey left to fend for themselves, 22 December 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3LptQZT; UNHCR, Key information for non-Syrians, Medical and psychological assistance, undated, available at: https://bit.ly/3iPQ8Yk; UNHCR, Key information for non-Syrians, Education, undated, available at: https://bit.ly/3iLI9eY; UNHCR, Turkey Education Sector Achievements; as of March 2021, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3wRJ3z3; Respond, Susan Beth Rottmann – Özyeğin University, Turkey Country Report, Integration Policies, Practices and Experiences, Global Migration: Consequences and Responses, Paper 2020/50, June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3qJOJXE.
 United Nations Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants on his mission to Greece, A/HRC/35/25/Add.2, 24 April 2017, para 81.
 Asylum Service, RAO of Alimos, Decision 227065/2021, 7 September 2021.
 Asylum Service, RAO of Alimos, Decision 227066/2021, 7 September 2021.
 Information provided by the Appeals Authority, 9 February 2021
 Information provided by the Appeals Authority, 11 March 2022.
 Refugee Support Aegean (RSA), The Greek asylum procedure in figures: most asylum seekers continue to qualify for international protection in 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3qH3qeo, 15-16.
 See e.g. 6th Appeals Committee, Decision 25449/2019, 20 January 2020; 6th Appeals Committee, Decision 2411/2019, 28 February 2020; 17th Appeals Committee, Decision 3576/2020, 10 March 2020, para 12; 13th Appeals Committee, Decision 2727/2020, 9 April 2020; 14th Appeals Committee, Decision 4334/2020, 9 April 2020.
 See e.g. 6th Appeals Committee, Decision 2411/2019, 28 February 2020, paras 11, 14 and 15; 13th Appeals Committee, Decision 2727/2020, 9 April 2020, para 19; 6th Appeals Committee, Decision 5892/2020, 27 May 2020, paras 12 and 15.
 13th Appeals Committee, Decision 2727/2020, 9 April 2020, para 19; 16th Appeals Committee, Decision 19219/2019, 15 May 2020, para 16.
 5th Appeals Committee, Decision 202946, 25 August 2021, 5th Appeal Committee, 202789/2021, 25 August 2021.
 Ibid, p. 2, 18th Appeals Committee, Decision 24756/2020, 18 March 2021.
 Ibid, p. 6, 20th Appeals Committee, Decisions 260356/2021 και 260375/2021, 21 September 2021.
 Article 56(1)(f) L 4375/2016.
 Article 56(1)(f) L 4375/2016.
 Article 86(1)(f) IPA.
 Article 86(1)(f) IPA.
 CJEU, Case C-528/15, Policie ČR, Krajské ředitelství policie Ústeckého kraje, odbor cizinecké policie v Salah Al Chodor, 15 March 2017; see Refugee Support Aegean, Comments on the Reform of the International Protection Act, idem.
 Note that the decision refers to the applicant’s “right to request an international protection status”, even though persons under temporary protection are barred from applying for international protection, see Template Decision in AIDA, Country Report Turkey, 2017 Update, March 2018.
 Council of State, Decision 2347/2017, 22 September 2017, para 62; Decision 2348/2017, 22 September 2017, para 62. Note the dissenting opinion of the Vice-President of the court, stating that transit alone cannot be considered a connection, since there was no voluntary stay for a significant period of time.
 Decisions on file with the author.
 5th Appeals Committee, Decision 202946/2021, 25 August 2021, para 20.
 13th Appeals Committee, Decision 2727/2020, 9 April 2020, para 24: Information provided by RSA, 4 January 2021.
 Article 56(2) L 4375/2016 and Article 86(4) IPA.