ATHENS – More than 25,000 migrants have so far attempted to illegally cross the Greek border in August, Citizen Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos noted on a morning television programme on ANT-1 on Wednesday, accusing Turkey of a “systematic, methodical and complex instrumentalisation” of migration that posed an unconventional threat to the integrity and security of Greece.
Commenting on Tuesday’s KYSEA national security council meeting, which decided to extend the Evros border fence, Theodorikakos noted that large numbers of mainly Syrian nationals were making organised attempts and using various tricks to come to Greece because the Turkish side was presenting them with a choice to either continue on to Greece or return to Syria.
Theodorikakos asserted that many of the calls for rescue made by migrants from islets in the Evros River were not genuine, given that water levels in the river were very low during the summer: “In many places, for tens of kilometres, it is very low, not even half a metre. One can easily cross and reach the islets that are usually in the middle of the Evros River. They go there, claim they are in danger and try to get European authorities to make decisions, usually the European Court of Human Rights, for a search-and-rescue to take place. These people are not in real danger, their lives are not in any danger. They are left there by organised interests and then call for the Hellenic Police to pick them up. I will therefore repeat in a categoric way: the Hellenic Police will not become a boatman for traffickers of false hopes for irregular migrants.”
The minister said that the process for construction of the extension of the border fence will get underway immediately, without the slightest delay as experience with the existing fence had proved that the artificial barrier greatly simplified the guarding of the border. He said this would be extended along the entire length of the Evros river, though this would happen gradually and in stages.
He also announced plans to add an additional 250 border guards during the winter and to upgrade the equipment for monitoring the river.