ATHENS – Seeking Turkey move to get more refugees and migrants across the northern land border, Greece will extend a wall there near the Evros River to keep them out, eventually reaching 220 kilometers (136 miles.)
That was decided after a meeting of the Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) that was overseen by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said Kathimerini, his government vowing to keep out asylum seekers.
The measures, besides patrols and air surveillance, will include lengthening the fence along the entire border to try to create an unassailable area near where Turkey in February, 2020 sent 10,000 refugees and migrants and urged them to get across into Greece.
The fence now, however, is only 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) long but an 80-kilometer (49 mile) extension will start immediately, it was said, and eventually along the whole boundary with Turkey.
If the European Union doesn’t provide subsidies, Greece will bear the cost, the report said, with keeping out refugees and migrants a priority for the Conservative government ahead of 2023 elections.
Besides the fence extension there will also be upgrading of sophisticated electronic monitoring to include drones, cameras and other state-of-the art equipment to detect anyone trying to breach the border.
Problems remain in the Aegean, however, where Turkey is letting human traffickers keep operating in violation of an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union.
Under the pact, Turkey is supposed to contain some 4.4 million refugees and migrants who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship in their homelands, primarily Syria and Afghanistan.
But Turkey – along with human rights groups, activists and investigate media sites – said Greece has been pushing them back but Turkey is not facing penalties for sending them. Greece denies pushbacks.
The numbers trying to arrive from Turkey by sea routes, primarily to five nearby Greek islands, have gone up 400 percent said officials, the paper reported, as many as 700 a day at times.
The government plans to pour another 800 million euros ($795.96 million) into the Coast Guard budget to uprade vessels and other equipment, including aerial surveillance of the waters.
It was also agreed an additional 250 guards that have already been selected will start training in October so that they can be stationed at the border by the end of autumn, it was added.