Greece stops migrants' assault at its border with Turkey
Several thousand illegals blocked from entering the EUEuropost
Greece managed to stop at least 10,000 illegal entries into the EU from Turkey on Saturday and Sunday morning, a government official said. The statement on Sunday comes a day after 13,000 migrants gathered on the Turkish-Greek border, following Turkey's announcement that it will no longer stop refugees from crossing into Europe.
“From 06:00 Saturday morning to 06:00 Sunday morning, 9,972 illegal entrances have been averted in the Evros area," Greek Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis told local broadcaster Skai. While he said all were successfully thwarted, Turkey claims more than 76,000 migrants successfully crossed into Greece. “As of 09.55 hours, the number of migrants leaving our country via Edirne; 76,358,” Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu wrote on Twitter, without specifying a time frame.
Athens accused Ankara of waging disinformation war. Some migrants, however, did manage to cross into Greece on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Up to 75 entered at the region of Evros and were immediately arrested pending a trial for illegaly crossing the border. Another 220 arrived on the coast of Lesbos and were brought into a camp. Thousands more remain in Turkey near the border. At least 1,000 migrants have reached Greece's Eastern Aegean islands since Sunday morning, Greek police assumed.
Bulgaria, which also shares a border with Turkey, said that not a single migrant has managed to illegally cross the border. Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov will travel to Ankara on Monday for talks with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on the current migration crisis.
The EU's border protection agency Frontex also said it is on high alert on borders with Turkey, as thousands more migrants are expected to attempt to enter the Union, adding it is deploying support to Greece. “We have raised the alert level for all borders with Turkey to high,” the Frontex spokeswoman said in a statement to AFP. “We have received a request from Greece for additional support.”
Turkey said last week it would stop enforcing a 2016 agreement that had prevented migrants from reaching the EU. Greek officials accused Turkey of orchestrating a coordinated effort to drive migrants across the frontier. “This movement is guided and encouraged by Turkey,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas told reporters after a national security meeting in Athens. He called the surge of migrants at the border “an active, serious, severe and asymmetrical threat to the national security of the country”.
“This is an invasion,” Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis told Skai TV on Monday.
Late on Sunday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeted that Greece was determined to protect its borders and warned migrants not to attempt to cross as security was increased to the maximum. He also pointed out that starting on Monday Greece will stop to accept asylum applications from people who have crossed the border illegally.
Mitsotakis is to visit the border on Tuesday accompanied by EC President Ursula von der Leyen, EU Council President Charles Michel, and EP President David Sassoli. They will arrive at the Greek-Turkish land border in order to show their support of Greece's efforts to stop migration at the EU's external border.
Clashes between police and migrants broke out on Saturday and Sunday at the land border, and riot police used teargas to repel hundreds of migrants on the Turkish side.