A Greek government spokesperson has announced that Greece is continuing with its plans to extend a border fence along its northern border with Turkey in order to deter migrants from entering the country.
The barbed wire and concrete fence along Greece’s northern border with Turkey was installed in 2012. The Greek government already announced plans to extend the fence in March this year and again in May, according to Reuters.
On Monday, August 24, a Greek government spokesperson, Stelios Petsas, told a press briefing that the government is continuing with its plans to extend the fence at an estimated cost of €63 million. The work is expected to take eight months, according to Reuters and will involve four different Greek construction companies.
Extending and reinforcing
At the moment, the fence runs for 12.5 kilometers. In March Petsas announced the government planned to extend it to about 40 kilometers long, however, according to Reuters, he didn't confirm this time exactly how long the fence would run, saying instead that it would be "extended in areas indicated by the Greek police and army." The English language Greek newspaper Ekathimerini, however, states that once extended the new border fence will be 27 kilometers long, and include "eight elevated observatories."
The existing fence will also be reinforced "with a steel railing measuring 4.3 meters in height." Currently the rail is 3.5 meters high, according to Ekahtimerini. All damage to the existing fence due to skirmishes, attempts to storm the border and flooding, will also be repaired.
According to Global Security.org and Wikipedia, the full length of the Greek Turkish border is around 200 kilometers long and mostly follows the Evros river, although the river has been straightened in some places.
The announcement comes at a time when Turkey and Greece have been involved in various naval standoffs in the Aegean and disputes over drilling rights and who is allowed to issue maritime warnings and information where. The Turkish government and coastguard have also repeatedly accused the Greek government of pushing migrants back to Turkish waters, a charge Greece denies.
On Monday, according to the Middle East Monitor, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan accused the Greek government of "sowing chaos" in the Mediterranean.
Back in May, the Greek government increased its police patrols along the Evros river border with Turkey. According to a police spokesperson Thodoros Chronopoulos who spoke to the news agency AFP at the time, the additional 400 police officers were a "precautionary measure."
Dispute about location of border
The officers were sent to the border after skirmishes and clashes began between border authorities and migrants trying to cross the river to reach Greece from Turkey. The Turkish authorities demanded that they be consulted over the fence expansion saying that the river bed which has marked the border between the two countries since 1926 had "significantly changed due to natural and artificial reasons."
Greek government said that the frontier remained "unchanged" and
that it was "not obliged to consult Turkey about infrastructure on
its own side of the border," according to AFP. The Greek
foreign minister told that agency in May that "the fence is on
Greek soil, beyond any doubt and with room to spare."