ATHENS — With Greek police and army forces already on alert at the border with Turkey along the Evros River, they stopped more than 400 migrants from crossing, raising fears Turkey will try another incursion after being stymied when 10,000 were sent in February.
The pattern continued from the previous day when Greek forces stopped between 200-500 daily and came as reports said 500-1000 were heading toward Turkey's coast which has been a launching area for human traffickers to send them to Greek islands.
But aircraft monitoring Turkish shores as part of an operation by the European Union’s border agency Frontex have not confirmed these reports said Kathimerini which said sources it did not identify said the increase in migrants trying to get to Greece coincides with the warmer weather when it's safer for them to try.
With fears Turkey will try another push to get migrants across the northern land border, another 14 riot police units were sent to bolster security and join other forces there, including Army units in May, said Kathimerini.
The units were dispatched from Athens, Thessaloniki, the regional unit of Thessaly and other regions and sent to Kastanies and Feres, the border areas where Greek police and soldiers were positioned to repel any attempts to cross by foot or over the river.
Greek police (ELAS) officials said it was down as a precaution and not because of any immediate concerns that another wave of migrants would be sent to the region by Turkey which is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
ELAS also wants another 125 police officers from various services across the country to strengthen the local border police departments to patrol along the river, whose treacherous currents took the lives of scores of refugees and migrants trying to cross since the swap deal was signed more than four years ago.
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told SKAI TV, “Greece is protecting and securing its borders, particularly its land borders,” in case there’s another migrant surge attempt.
“This was demonstrated in March in the most emphatic fashion,” he said in reference to the migrant standoff there before the virus hit hard.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested migrants would return to the frontier following the easing of the Coronavirus restrictions.