Greece completed earlier in the week a 40-km (25 mile) fence on its border with Turkey and a new surveillance system was in place to stop possible asylum seekers from trying to reach Europe following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
Greece is looking to prevent a recurrence of the events in 2020, when thousands of migrants and asylum seekers tried to storm the Greek border at Evros, demanding to pass through to the EU.
“The crisis in Afghanistan is creating new parameters in the geopolitical sphere, and at the same time creates the possibility of migratory flows,” Citizens Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said in the Evros region.
He noted that while Greece is an EU member and supports human rights, “we can’t wait apathetically for the possible consequences,” adding that Athens would not allow migrants to be used to put pressure on Greece.
“It is our decision to defend and secure our borders,” he said. “Our borders will remain safe and inviolate.”
Chrisochoidis said the extension to the existing 12.5-kilometre fence had been completed in recent days, as well as a hi-tech, automated electronic monitoring system.
The 5-meter (16.4 foot) tall fence and eight observation towers is being erected at the area of Ferres, at the southern part of the border region.
The area is difficult to police because the Evros River does not function as a natural border, since some Turkish territory extends west of the river bank.
With a total budget of 62.9 million euros, the project has been undertaken by a consortium of four construction companies.
Greece, Turkey leaders discuss Afghanistan
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed Afghanistan on the phone on Friday, with Erdogan saying Afghanistan and Iran – a key route for Afghans into Turkey – should be supported or a new migration wave was “inevitable,” a statement from his office said.
Greece and Turkey, NATO allies and historic rivals, agreed to cooperate to prevent a possible mass influx of refugees from Afghanistan into their countries.
During the half-hour talk, which sources said was cordial, the two leaders agreed that Greece and Turkey are facing the same challenges. They reportedly agreed that they will not take responsibility for Afghan refugees as they both look to deter influxes of migrants into their borders.
Both leaders agreed that the neighboring countries must be supported, so that Afghans remain as close to their homeland as possible.
Events in Afghanistan have fueled fears in the European Union of a repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis, when nearly a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and beyond crossed to Greece from Turkey before travelling north to wealthier states.
Greece was on the frontline of that crisis and has said its border forces are on alert to make sure it does not become Europe’s gateway again.