Construction of a fence along the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border officially commenced on Monday, budgeted at 3,162.5 million euros, is due for completion in late August or early September.
Citizens protection minister Christos Papoutsis declared the commencement of the construction of the fence in the Kastanies region, after earlier inaugurating the Border Surveillance Operational Center in the town of Nea Vyssa, where earlier a group of demonstrators protested against the construction of the fence and the Center.
Inaugurating the Center, Papoutsis said that the fence is a project with a practical as well as a symbolic value, as it will discourage migrant-smugglers and illegal immigration as well as send a message that Greece is not a free-for-all. “We will not allow Greece to be turned into a transit country (of illegal migration) to the other countries of the European Union,” he said, adding that Greece cannot endure more non-legal immigrants and that the government’s actions aim at the tranquility and safety of the local population.
Referring to reactions against the fence, he said its construction will go ahead, as it is a law of the state.
On the new asylum law, Papoutsis said that all asylum-seekers entitled to asylum would receive it, while for the rest the message is clear, they should not attempt to illegally enter Greece because they will be either deported or voluntarily repatriated.
Papoutsis said that the fence, a “project of cooperation between the Turkish and Greek authorities to deal with illegal immigration”, will have 25 thermal cameras, while the Center would ensure the constant surveillance of the borders. He further said that an EU delegation headed by home affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom would visit the region in late February to check up on the use of the EU funding forthcoming for stemming non-legal immigration.
Papoutsis referred extensively to Greece’s initiatives to present the problem of non-legal immigration Europe-wide, as well as a series of infrastructure works carried out in the region, such as the construction of a building that will house the Ferres police station, budgeted at 1.7 million euros, repairs and renovations of migrant holding facilities in Evros, construction of a new police station in Didymoteichos, budgeted at 2.5 million euros, upgraded equipment for the police and other interventions. In 2011 alone, 54,974 non-legal immigrants crossed the Evros border into Greece.