Greece ordered approximately 400 police officers from different parts of the country to deploy along the border with Turkey at the Evros River as it braces for a new wave of migrants attempting to storm into Europe.
Speaking to a local television station in Antalya, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier in the week: “Due to the pandemic, the movement of migrants has slowed down. But they will definitely want to leave after the outbreak is over.”
The statement set off alarm bells in Athens, where analysts are increasingly voicing fears of an iteration of the crisis that erupted earlier this year when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the doors to Europe were open and migrants free to cross into Greece.
A high-ranking official of the Citizen Protection Ministry told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) that security measures in Evros had never been relaxed, but that the police presence is now being strengthened even further. “Turkey is constantly keeping the issue at the forefront,” the source added.
He also said that forces coming from the rest of Greece will boost surveillance of all crossings at the border with Turkey, as the neighboring country might try to send a new wave of migrants. He stressed with some force that “Evros is sealed.”
Greece is also preparing to construct a new 26 km (16-mile) fence along the border line. A technical study for the construction of the new fence is now expected, in order to initiate the procedures for selecting a contractor for the project, which will be completed in the near future.
Earlier in May, Greece requested that 100 Frontex border guards who are part of the Rapid Border Intervention Team remain in the country until July.
The request, which was accepted, relied on estimates of increased flows after Ramadan and the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown in Turkey.