The construction contract for the 35 kms extention of the barrier fence along the Evros border with Turkey was signed on Friday, in the presence of Greek Premier Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
Speaking about the project, the Prime Minister reiterated the plan to extend the border fence to cover the entire 140 km length of the Greece’s land border with Turkey, and insisted that he will “continue at all levels to claim its financing with European funds.”
The fence extension contract was signed by Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos and representatives of the appointed construction companies, TERNA and Intrakat Group. Asylum & Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi was also in attendance.
The current length of the border fence, which the Greek government estimates prevented the illegal entry of some 250,000 migrants in 2022, is 37.5km.
The additional 35 kms of the fence will cover the Evros border from Psathades to Kornofolia and cost the Greek state 99.2 million euros in budget. Made of galvanized steel metal railing and measuring five meters high and six meters underground, it will also feature seven overhead anti-ballistic observatories with armored cabins.
Controversy around Evros border fence funding by the EU
Greece completed the construction of the first 37.5 kms of the Evros border fence in summer 2021.
The barrier was part of the country’s strategy to stop possible asylum-seekers from trying to reach Europe following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, as Greece was 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.
Since then, Greece has tried to get EU funding for the project. Bulgaria and Austria had voiced similar requests for EU budget to finance border fences on the bloc’s external borders in the past.
“If we were to spend money on walls or fences, there would be no money for other things,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson had commented in January.
And now, an amendment passed on Thursday during a vote by the European Parliament’s Budget Committee has officially rejected the use of EU funding to finance walls at the external borders of the European Union.
However, the Greek Premier told a speech in Orestiada on Friday that even if Greece fails to secure European financing, it will complete the fence along the entire length of the Greek-Turkish border in Evros with national funds, AMNA reports.
PM Mitsotakis also called on main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras to clarify his position on the overall issue of the fence.
“I want to express my regret for the fact that today there are political forces in Greece that oppose this project and submit an amendment and resolutions to the European Parliament so that this technical barrier, the fence, is not financed by European funds,” he added.