Greece says has right to extend security fence as border tensions persist

The Greek government said it has the right to extend a fence on the border with Turkey to prevent migrants scaling it to enter the European Union.

Political tensions persist between Greece and Turkey over the land border, where thousands of refugees and migrants gathered in March when Ankara claimed it had opened the gates.

But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis denied press reports that Turkey had invaded Greek land in the northeastern Evros area, echoing statements from Ankara that there were technical issues that needed to be resolved.

“There is no border dispute,” Mitsotakis said in a pre-recorded interview with Greek broadcaster Star on Monday, Kathimerini newspaper reported. Turkey had become nervous about Greece’s decision to build the fence, but it was “our inalienable right to do it and we’ll do it”, he said.

Mitsotakis said Greece would prevent swathes of migrants from entering the country, whatever Turkey’s policy.

“We are not going to accept a policy of mass inflows. Protecting our borders and European borders is an acqui,” he said.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said the country must avoid reactionary and emotional statements when it came to relations with Turkey.

“We must avoid verbal excesses. We must avoid playing into the hands of Turkish propaganda,” he said on Monday.

“No foreign troops were present on Greek territory; this is perfectly clear and it has been stressed by the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defence.”

Petsas said photographs purportedly showing Turkish soldiers on Greek land, reproduced by some local media, were misleading.

“They [the soldiers] were on Turkish territory,” he said.