Greek Minister of Migration and Asylum Notis Mitarachi has said the border wall along its frontier with Turkey will be expanded to 120 kilometers in order to stop migrants from entering the country illegally, the Voice of America news website reported.
“There is a clear attempt by Turkey to instrumentalize migrants in creating a crisis with Greece,” said Mitarachi. “And the numbers speak for themselves.”
Hundreds of additional border guards were deployed along the Evros River in recent weeks, and according to Mitarachi Greece will waste no time in moving ahead to expand the wall.
Nikos Spanos, an admiral with the Greek coast guard, said the tensions with Turkey had affected Greece’s decision to tighten border control. “Turkey regulates all migratory flows into Greece and Europe, and if the floodgates open farther, it will be very difficult for us to block these inflows from inundating many Greek islands,” he said.
According to the Greek Ministry of Migration and Asylum nearly 3,000 migrants tried to cross illegally to Greece from Turkey in June, while an estimated 1,000 migrants make the crossing every day.
A Greek migration ministry source said nearly 30 percent more asylum seekers had tried to come to Greece in the first four months of 2022 than in the same period last year.
Greece’s center-right government has toughened the country’s migration policy and recently completed a 26-kilometer (16-mile) extension of a steel border wall to make the barrier span 38 kilometers (24 miles).
Greece made a request for European Union funds in early 2022 to extend the wall and promised to expand a powerful surveillance network.
Aid groups and media frequently accuse Athens of organizing “illegal pushbacks” of migrants, allegations that Greece denies.