Greece seeks assistance from Turkey over surge in migrant crossings along border river

A police car patrols along a steel fence along Evros river, Greece's river border with Turkey, near the village of Poros on June 8, 2021. - The area is where the Greek State has chosen to deploy a new anti-migration arsenal including cameras, radar and a 40-kilometre (25-mile) steel fence over five metres high. (Photo by Sakis MITROLIDIS / AFP)

In a bid to tackle an increase in attempts by migrants to cross the river separating Greece and Turkey, Greek authorities have initiated top-level communications with the recently elected Turkish administration, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

Greek Defense Minister Alkiviades Stephanis had a discussion with his Turkish counterpart, Yaşar Güler, on Wednesday, according to sources in Athens. This comes after the foreign ministers of the two countries spoke the previous day. Güler, along with other officials from the new cabinet, assumed their roles following the re-election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Patrols have been bolstered on the Greek side of the border in response to a recent decrease in the water level of the Evros River, which has made it easier for migrants to cross.

The two nations, both members of NATO, have numerous historical disagreements, including issues related to maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean and the challenge of reducing unauthorized migration to the European Union.

Turkey has previously been accused by Greece of using migration as a tool to gain advantages from the EU. However, in recent times, officials in both Athens and Ankara have been adopting a more cooperative approach.

Haralambos Lalousis, the Greek minister of public order, expressed the opinion on Tuesday that Turkey was not responsible for the latest increase in migrant crossings.

“I don’t believe it’s Turkey,” Lalousis said before departing on a trip to the border regions.

Lalousis, who served as the former chief of the Greek army and the commander of forces stationed in the border area, said the military was providing support to police patrols.

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