Illegal migratory flows to the Greek islands is down 83% compared to 2019.
Turkey’s escalating aggression against Greece culminates at this stage in the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque from Friday, in conjunction with the communication war against the Greek Coast Guard that has been going on for the last four months and has created a deplorable situations in the eastern Aegean.
In this context, the arrival in Greece of Fabrice Lezeri, head of the European Border Agency, FRONTEX, sends a message of EU unity regarding the defence of the maritime borders of the eastern Aegean, which are also European borders.
The new doctrine applied by the Greek government since last March for closed borders and the increase of the surveillance force of the sea borders from the Coast Guard, Navy, land army and also the presence of FRONTEX, has significantly reduced migratory flows to the Greek islands.
From March 1, the official words of the Turkish government is that ‘the Greek land and sea borders were opened’, and that ‘migrants will be able to cross into Europe.’
The measures taken by the Greek government were immediate.
“The instructions given to the security forces as well as to the army were” we seal the borders of the country “in every way possible,” officers of the Coast Guard said to Proto Thema. “The sea field has peculiarities, more difficulties than the land borders.”
The 18,000 kilometres of coastline and the hundreds of islands, especially in the eastern Aegean, are monitored 24/7. The first actions that took place were the following:
- Immediate reinforcement with 20 additional vessels and 200 officers of the Coast Guard in the entire sea area of the eastern Aegean, from Alexandroupolis to Kastellorizo.
- In mid-March, reinforcement reached a total of more than 65 vessels of the Greek Navy and more than 2,500 executives who deal exclusively with issues of surveillance and guarding of the sea borders. And because the Greek maritime borders are also European, the EU assistance through the organization FRONTEX was requested.
- The Agency sent Community operational instruments to Greece . To date, a total of 20 vessels have arrived by land, land and air and are assisting in the national effort to guard the borders.
In the new doctrine applied by Greece on the eastern maritime borders, the interdisciplinary cooperation is of key importance.
The method of surveillance is very clear and specific. Patrols are now on the border using all appropriate means in order to achieve the timely detection of boats transporting migrants located in Turkish territorial waters.
“In many cases, they are located even when the migrants are on the Turkish shores before they even board the boats,” the Greek Coast Guard emphasised, adding that “from the first moment of the application of the new doctrine, it seemed that the Turkish authorities were surprised and did not expect such a reaction from Greece.”
The continuous interceptions and the timely location of boats throughout the wider sea area of the eastern Aegean resulted in a large reduction of disembarked migrants heading for the Greek islands.
The Turkish coastguards have initially taken on the role of collecting the boats with the migrants. After mid-March, the behaviour of the Turkish Coast Guard changed drastically.
“Having lost the maritime communication game, they have now unofficially taken on the role of trafficker and started escorting boats with migrants, thus facilitating organised criminal networks in Turkey,” the Greek Coast Guard said.
“We are accepting a dirty communication war in which the official site of the Turkish Coast Guard is used and by NGOs that have been hit by the recent deterrent action of the Hellenic Coast Guard. They use false information, photos as well as audio-visual material in order to accuse the Hellenic Coast Guard of applying illegal procedures. There is no hint that in these 100 incidents that have been recorded by the Greek Coast Guard and concern thousands of immigrants, there is no human loss.”
“The borders are closed and we accept a hybrid threat. The vast majority of immigrants have coronavirus. We have such samples,” the Coast Guard explained.