In 2015, bankrupt Greece became known as the gateway to Europe as more than a million refugees and migrants travelled there via Turkey before heading on to other destinations in Western Europe. In response to the biggest movement of displaced people since World War II, the European Union signed a deal with Turkey in March 2016 to keep people from crossing to Greece in exchange for financial aid and faster EU accession talks. Under the deal, Brussels and Ankara agreed that all new “irregular migrants and asylum seekers” crossing to Greek islands as of March 20, 2016 would be returned to Turkey. Meanwhile, for every Syrian returned to Turkey from the Greek islands, another Syrian would be resettled to the European Union.
And finally, Turkey would take all necessary steps to prevent new sea or land routes to the EU from opening up.
In March 2016, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia shut their borders, leaving tens of thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in Greece.