Greece tripling length of Turkish border fence on sudden surge in refugees

Greece is planning to triple the length of the fence on its border with Turkey due to a sudden surge in refugees attempting to cross into the country, Voice of America (VOA) reported on Sunday.

Athens will add 80 additional kilometres of barbed wire and steel to its 40-kilometre fence, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said, according to VOA.

“There is a clear attempt by Turkey to instrumentalise migrants in creating a crisis with Greece,” said Mitarachi. The numbers speak for themselves, he said.

Migration is one of a string of contentious issues between Turkey and Greece. Athens frequently accuses Ankara of using asylum-seeking migrants at its borders with Greece as a weapon, saying it is obliged to stop migrants covertly entering Greece under an EU-Turkey deal worth billions of euros. The Greek government completed another 26-kilometre extension of a steel border wall to make the barrier span 40-kilometre last year. Turkey blames Greece for migrant pushbacks in the Aegean Sea.

The number of migrants trying to cross the Turkey-Greece border illegally is 20 percent higher than last year, VOA said. In June, almost 3,000 people tried to illegally cross into Greece from Turkey in a total of 82 attempts, it said, citing Migration Ministry officials.

Greece has also deployed hundreds of additional border guards to boost patrols along the border in recent weeks, VOA said.

Under the EU accord signed in 2016, Turkey agreed to curb the flow of migrants and refugees into the bloc via Greece in exchange for 6 billion euros to support refugee-related services.

Turkey and Greece have also been mired in arguments over territory that almost led to direct military clashes, most recently in 2020, when Greek warships neared a Turkish hydrocarbon survey ship searching for natural gas off a Greek island. While the two neighbours both deny the other’s accusations of territorial violations, military tensions have built again in the past three months as they accused each other of violating their airspace and Turkey conducted military exercises close to Greek islands lying adjacent to its coastline that it says Greece has been illegally arming.

 

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