Greece to boost guards on Turkey border

A soldier patrols near a steel fence built along the Evros River in the area of Feres, at the Greek-Turkish border, Greece, 1 September 2021. [EPA-EFE/DIMITRIS ALEXOUDIS]

Greece’s police minister on Sunday (10 October) said 250 additional guards would be deployed on the country’s land border with Turkey, where thousands of asylum-seekers tried to enter last year.

“We are ready… and we are further increasing (security) forces by hiring 250 new border guards to support Greek police,” Citizens’ Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos said during a visit to the border area of Kastanies, according to a ministry statement.

In February 2020, tens of thousands of migrants surged towards Greece after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would let migrants seeking to reach the European Union pass through.

Erdogan drops the ‘human bomb’ on EU

The situation at the Greek-Turkish land border worsened dramatically on Saturday (29 February) following Ankara’s official decision to let thousands of migrants enter EU territory.

Days of clashes with asylum seekers on the border ensued, with Greek police accusing their Turkish counterparts of firing tear gas against them.

In the aftermath of the incident, Greece invested in a new anti-migration arsenal including cameras, radar and a 40-kilometre steel fence over five metres high, to cover part of the 200-kilometre border region crossed by the river Evros (Meric in Turkish, Maritsa in Bulgarian).

The Greek civil aviation authority on Saturday also said a tethered balloon known as an aerostat, equipped with a long-range thermal camera, had been deployed at Alexandroupolis airport in August to assist border surveillance.

A Zeppelin operated by EU border agency Frontex is also active in the area, state agency ANA said Sunday.

Greece has said it will examine claims of illegal pushbacks of migrants trying to enter from Turkey, made in a major investigation published Wednesday by media from several European countries.

Athens has consistently denied any wrongdoing, including claims of migrants saying they were beaten, stripped and robbed before being forced back across the land border with Turkey.

EU Commission urges probe after report on migrant pushbacks in Greece, Croatia

The European Union’s executive called for an investigation into illegal migrant pushbacks after a report by German media outlets Der Spiegel and ARD documented what they said were Greek, Croatian and Romanian officials carrying out such operations.

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