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Greece Steps Up Refugee Patrols On Turkish Border, Evros River

September 7, 2020

Seeing more refugees and migrants trying to cross even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Greece has tightened its border with Turkey along the treacherous Evros River to prevent crossings.

More patrols are being added in the area where Turkey in February sent 10,000 refugees and migrants and urged them to try to get across before they were repelled by Greek riot police and army units using tear gas and ducking Molotov Cocktails tossed over the fence at them.

Tension between the two NATO allies is soaring to a near-conflict point over Turkish plans to hunt for energy off Greek islands and repeatedly violating Greek airspace and waters with fighter jets and warships.

Greece is anxious that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will again use refugees and migrants as weapons, having allowed human traffickers to keep sending them to Greek islands and along the land border.

Turkey is holding some four million people who fled war and strife and economic hardship in their homelands and went to that country as a jumping off point to reach more prosperous countries in the European Union  before the bloc shut its borders to them, dumping the problem on Greece.

Turkey has sent more to Greek islands during an essentially-suspended swap deal with the EU, a number of countries reneging on promises to help take some of the overload and the bloc not using the courts to make them comply.

Greek authorities say they are mobilizing scores of special border guards to canvass srawling fields and marshland along the river and will send hundreds more to Aegean islands to stop sea crossings, said The Voice of America.

United Nations statistics show that illegal land entries into Greece from Turkey, doubled in August into September, raising worries of growing incursions after Erdogan threatened to unleash refugees and migrants unless he gets his way over energy drilling plans.

Migration Minister Notis Mitarachis told the site that, "We want Turkey to conform to agreements it has signed to stem the flow of illegal immigration. attempt to weaponize the suffering of refugees for geopolitical interests will not be tolerated."

The border reinforcement also comes after media reports that Turkey was withdrawing 40 tanks from Syria, moving them instead to the Greek-Turkish border, without explaining why.

Kostas Lavdas, a Professor of International Relations at Panteon University in Athens, says Greece must be ready for war although the Turkish move could be a routine rotation of its troops and resources.

It may be a simple rotation of forces, he said, because Turkey has several military fronts open. Regardless the reason, he said, Turkey has repeatedly shown that it wants to be ready for all scenarios relating to Greece, including war.

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