Greece says state of emergency at Turkish border is not over

Two Greek ministers in charge of the country’s security forces said the country was still in a state of emergency over the attempted entry of large numbers of migrants from Turkey, even though many of them had been evicted from the border area, Greek daily Kathimerini reported.

Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Michalis Chrysochoidis, the citizens’ protection minister in charge of internal security, visited the border days after Turkish authorities dismantled a camp of migrants hoping to cross to Europe.

“We are back at the Kastanies border post in order to assess the situation,” Kathimerini quoted Panagiotopoulos as saying after being briefed by the chief of the National Defence General Staff, Konstantinos Floros.

“We also has the opportunity to talk with the leaderships of the armed forces and the Hellenic Police on the local level, with the people who carried out their mission of guarding the border, of managing to maintain their impregnability from the surprise push of Clean Monday, and, of course, to plan our next moves,” Panagiotopoulos said.

The minister was referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement that Turkey would allow migrants to freely pass the Turkish side of the border toward Europe, which came the weekend before the Orthodox Christian holiday of Clean Monday.

The Turkish president’s announcement came after dozens of Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib, northwest Syria, by Syrian government forces. Erdoğan says the European Union has left Turkey to bear the costs of millions of refugees from the Syrian conflict without contributing its fair part, but European leaders have accused the Turkish president of using migrants and refugees to blackmail the bloc.

Panagiotopoulos said Greece, the European border force Frontex and other European security forces sent to halt migrants would remain vigilant at the border despite the departure of many of the migrants.