Turkish soldiers fired guns over the border with Greece at Evros on two separate occasions earlier in March, German magazine Der Spiegel reports.
According to the report, the shots were fired against Greek and German border guards patrolling the area under the umbrella of the European Union’s border protection agency, Frontex.
The incidents occurred on March 5 and 7. In the latest incident, last Sunday, near the village of Tychero at Evros, the shootings from the Turksih side of the border started as soon as the German Frontex border patrol appeared.
Der Spiegel quotes a Frontex official as saying that “it was not an isolated incident”.
Evros border incidents reported to the EU
The German magazine adds that further security measures have been taken for Frontex staff, including the wearing of bulletproof vests. Frontex has deployed 80 border guards in Evros, 15 of whom are German.
The incidents were reported in a letter to the European Commission by the executive director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri.
In his letter, the Frontex chief noted increased incidents of shots being fired in the air on the Turkish side of the border.
He adds that during one of the incidents, the Turkish national anthem was heard through a loudspeaker.
Although it is not clear yet whether the incidents are part of a central strategic choice of Turkey or an initiative by Turkish Army officers who are on the spot, Greek authorities are on heightened alert.
Greece is determined to prevent the illegal entry of migrants from the Turkish side of the border.
Tens of thousands of migrants made violent attempts to breach the fence to get into Greece in February last year at the behest of Ankara, leading to a tense standoff with Athens and Ankara.
Greece building a border fence
Greece has been building a border fence with a total length of 27 kilometers (16.7 miles), with eight elevated observatories.
The existing fence will also be reinforced with a steel railing measuring 4.3 meters (14 feet) in height, instead of the current 3.5 meters (11.4 feet).
Visiting the area in late December, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis characterised the year of 2021 as a “year of security, defined by the coronavirus vaccines and the Evros border fence.”
Commenting on the border fence currently under construction, the minister said it is a “project of historic significance for the country’s security… which will be completed in a few months’ time, all across the length of the Evros border.”