The construction of a fence running along a section of the Greek-Turkish land border in Evros will be completed in eight months, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis announced in Parliament on Monday.
The border fence project has a total budget of €62.9 million.
It will have a total length of 27 kilometres and eight elevated observatories will be constructed to be used by the Hellenic Army. Moreover, the existing fence will be reinforced with a steel railing measuring 4.3 meters in height, instead of the current 3.5 meters.
In March this year, Turkey attempted to asymmetrically invade Greece with the use of tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Turkey had not only falsely told the illegal immigrants that Greece’s borders were open, but it also facilitated the transportation of the illegal immigrants and utilized their army to try and tear down Greece’s border wall. This damage will be repaired.
“In Evros, in March, we, you and the other Europeans, took Europe one step forward. We fought together for something we share, our borders,” Chrysochoidis said after his meeting with the Austrian Minister of Interior Karl Nehammer.
From February 28 to August 3 this year, over 60,000 illegal immigrants were prevented from entering Greece from the Evros area on the Greek-Turkish border region.
“As Greeks”, Chrysochoidis added, “we are proud that the long process of awareness of this common European homeland began in our country, in Evros.”
Austria and Greece work closely and efficiently in areas such as security, migration and Covid-19 he said, and added: “Your country was one of the first in Europe to send a team of special forces – the famous EKOCOBRA – equipment, cameras, vehicles and the precious Survivor, the beast, as they called it at the border.”
Chrysochoidis underlined that “we are in the Union, because we all believe that transnational problems are solved by accepting international law, treaties and arbitration, not by militarizing them. We are in the Union because human life is worth living, the lives of migrants are worth living, asylum is the foundation of Europe. Europe will never allow people facing difficulties to become tools and victims of geopolitical goals. Together in Evros we have opened a new page of European history, we have started a new chapter towards the unification and the creation of a common identity and consciousness.”
He added that the European policy in the Eastern Mediterranean is an urgent priority.
On his part, Nehammer referred to the events at the borders in March and said neither the Austrian chancellor nor he had any doubt about supporting Greece practically. He said it was both an issue of European solidarity and an opportunity to convey a clear message to Turkey that Austria will not abandon any country and will stand with others to protect EU borders, “which means that we also support the borders of Austria in this way.”
The Austrian Interior Minister also met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis where he expressed his absolute confidence in the government’s handling of the migration issue.
He also announced that Austria will contribute €2,000,000 to help on-site medical attention to people at the borders.
“There’s a need for systematic collaboration, and Austria is willing to help,” he said.