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Greece includes Georgia in the list of Safe Countries of Origin

By Mariam Chanishvili
Friday, February 7
Following a joint Declaration by Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Citizens’ Protection, Greece established the list of countries designated as ‘safe countries of origin’ on December 31, 2019. It is noteworthy that Georgia is included in the list.

International Law (the Geneva Convention) and EU law (the Asylum Procedures Directive) consider a country safe when there is a democratic system and generally and consistently: no persecution, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, no threat of violence, no armed conflict.

The concept of ‘safe countries of origin’ was introduced in the Greek asylum procedure as part of a wider legislative reform around the issue of granting international protection and aims specifically to reduce processing time as well as to facilitate the return of asylum seekers to their countries of origin.

The joint ministerial decision was signed by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, listing Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Gambia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Albania, Georgia, Ukraine, India and Armenia.

Based on article 87 of the new 2019 law on applying for asylum, a country can be judged safe for an asylum seeker if an examination of his or her application shows that they have not cited “serious reasons why the country is not a safe country of origin for the applicant."

Through this decision, Greece recognizes that Georgia is the country that meets international standards of law and judicial requirements. It assesses that on the basis of the legal situation and of the general political circumstances in the country.

“There is generally and consistently no persecution, no torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and no threat by reason of indiscriminate violence in situations of international or internal armed conflict,” reads the information provided by the Embassy of Greece in Georgia.

Asylum seekers coming from Georgia may have their claims prioritized and accelerated (within 20 days or maximum 40 days if ask for an extension), but their applications can be rejected as manifestly unfounded if they invoke the above reasons.

According to the latest statistics from the Greek authorities, Greece was among the most affected EU countries pertaining to the asylum applications by Georgian citizens as of 2019 (having received 1602 applications).