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The Latest: Greece vows to speed up migrant deportations

By The News · 18 of July 2019 08:38:30
AP Photo,, No available, Police observe as migrants and Italians stand on the roof of an abandoned school before being evicted, on the outskirts of Rome, Monday, July 15, 2019. Residents set fire early Monday to mattresses and other garbage to form a barrier and prevent riot police from entering the building but authorities doused the blaze and proceeded with the eviction. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe migration issues (all times local):

4 p.m.

Officials from Greece’s new conservative government have vowed to speed up the asylum process for migrants and refugees and restart deportations to neighboring Turkey despite renewed tension between the two NATO members.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met in Athens Monday with Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Greek commissioner at the EU for migration, home affairs, and government officials later said that discussions focused on rapidly reducing a backlog of asylum applications and a return to the terms of a 2016 European Union-Turkey agreement that allow for the deportation of migrants whose applications have been rejected.

Mitsotakis’ conservatives won general elections this month on a pledge to cut taxes and take tougher line on migration. Greece and Turkey remain at odds over a drilling rights dispute around the war-divided island of Cyprus.

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12:45 p.m.

Police are evicting migrants and Italians from an abandoned former school on Rome’s outskirts in the latest operation to empty occupied buildings of migrants and squatters.

Residents set fire early Monday to mattresses and other garbage to form a barrier and prevent riot police from entering the building. But authorities doused the blaze and proceeded with the eviction.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has championed a crackdown on migrants, said Italy had “no tolerance” for anyone who illegally occupies abandoned buildings. He said the structure was dangerous and put women and children living there at risk.

City hall officials said they were providing alternative housing for the nearly 200 people affected.

Rome has a long history of squatters, with Italians and migrants alike lamenting a lack of affordable housing.