Greece announced on Sunday that it will further boost security at the border with Turkey along the Evros River by hiring 250 new border guards over the next few months.
Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos, who was visiting the region of Evros, also announced the strengthening of the country’s borders with the extension of the fence there and Greece’s determination to not only defend peace and stability but also to protect its borders.
In August, Greece completed a 37-km (24-mile) fence along its border with Turkey and a new surveillance system was put in place to stop possible migrants and refugees from trying to reach Europe following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
Greece fears a recurrence of the 2020 Evros border migrant crisis
Greece is looking to prevent a recurrence of the events in 2020, when thousands of migrants and asylum seekers violently tried to storm the Greek border at Evros, demanding to pass through to the EU.
“From the borders of our country with Turkey, from the borders of the European Union with Turkey, 37 kilometers of the fence have been completed so far, which has strengthened the security of our country’s borders; and the security of our country’s borders is a prerequisite for the Greeks to be safe throughout the territory,” Theodorikakos said.
He then added: “Everyone knows that Greece is a country that defends peace and stability in a geostrategically difficult region. At the same time, however, Greece is determined to defend its borders from any intrusion, from any threat. We are on full alert, we are further strengthening our forces in the area. The Greek police will be strengthened with 250 new border guards in the coming months.”
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.
Migrant flows to Greece have been significantly reduced over the last couple of years. However, officials fear that the instability in Afghanistan may force thousands to attempt to cross into Greece via Turkey.
Greece accused of migrant pushbacks
The country, which was on the frontline of the migrant crisis in 2015 when more than a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East crossed from Turkey into the EU, has said it may send back any Afghans that arrive illegally through the country.
The announcement follows reports in the German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD, according to which some of these operations reportedly turned violent as Greek special forces sometimes concealed their identities when pushing migrants back into the Aegean Sea.
“Some of these reports are shocking,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, adding she expects a thorough investigation into these incidents. These reports need to be investigated, she said and added that there seems to indications of orchestrated violence in Europe’s external borders.”