Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made a short, forceful statement in English on his social media profiles on Friday afternoon, commenting on the recent developments since Turkey decided to let refugees and migrants freely leave the country and enter the EU.
”I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated.” the Prime Minister wrote on Facebook and Twitter, announcing that Greece will increase its border security further.
Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security.
— Prime Minister GR (@PrimeministerGR) February 28, 2020
”Greece does not bear any responsibility for the tragic events in Syria and will not suffer the consequences of decisions taken by others. I have informed the European Union of the situation,” the Greek Premier said in his social media statement.
Opposition Asks for Extraordinary EU Summit
Greece’s main opposition SYRIZA party urged the government on Friday to call for an extraordinary EU summit, bearing in mind, it said, that “the (2016) EU-Turkey Joint Declaration for the management of the migration crisis is being actively challenged, and this demands an immediate European initiative.”
The statement was made after a broad meeting ex-Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held with senior party officials who have served in government positions relating to the migration crisis.
Thousands Gather Along Turkish Shores
As time progresses, yet more refugees and migrants continue to gather along Turkey’s western coast, with the clear aim of crossing the Aegean and reaching European shores on Greece’s Eastern Aegean islands.
Social media has been flooded with photographs and videos showing refugees and migrants assembling on Turkey’s shores in Izmir (Smyrna) and Ayvalik, waiting for the moment they will board dinghies to reach the Greek islands, just a few miles off the coast.
Turkish media has additionally been claiming that Greek police are using tear gas to push refugees back to Turkey.
— CNN TÜRK (@cnnturk) February 28, 2020
Up until now, Turkey was theoretically discouraging and not allowing individuals to reach these shores; however, on Friday all this changed, and Ankara now says that the country is being overrun with refugees, and is actively encouraging them to try to reach Greece.
According to Greece’s AMNA news agency, 151 individuals landed on Greek shores on Friday on Lesvos and Samos islands.
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Posted by Στο Νησί on Friday, February 28, 2020
It is noted that Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of the Greek National Defense General Staff, and Minister of Public Order Michael Chrisochoides have both arrived in the border county of Evros to coordinate military and police units and ensure that no illegal crossings will take place on land.
Additionally, two commando units from the Greek military’s Special Forces are also heading to Evros. The last time such units were used to patrol borders was in 1994 and 1997 when Greece had to increase its patrols along the Greek-Albanian border.
Greece Hires More Employees for Asylum Service
Meanwhile, Athens announced that the Migration and Asylum Ministry will hire 220 new workers to support the Asylum Service, which is currently staffed with people hired either by Athens or Brussels.
The Ministry said “The hiring of 220 employees is another important step for the support of the staffing of the Asylum Service on the islands of northern Aegean as well as on mainland Greece.
“The aim of the specific actions is the acceleration of asylum procedures and of distinguishing the refugee profile of asylum-seekers so that those not entitled to international protection will immediately be sent back to Turkey,” it concluded.