Greek defence minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has stated that Greece is on alert for new waves of migrants as the country has called on the European Union to strengthen its border agency Frontex ahead of the summer.
While he acknowledged that migrant traffic along the Turkish border has dramatically decreased, primarily due to the outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus, Minister Panagiotopoulos stated that the country was still on alert for another surge at the border area.
“Nothing has changed, the alarm remains. We estimate that as the weather improves, so will the influx of migrants into our waters and then into our lands increase. Our reaction and planning towards these behaviours of Turkey remain stable. The Armed Forces are not changing their priorities,” he said in an interview this week, Proto Thema reports.
Panagiotopoulos also addressed the continued violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter jets, saying that he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart about the matter at a recent NATO meeting.
Turkey: Migrants Will Return to Border After Coronavirus Outbreak Ends https://t.co/GgmAVC19Cv
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“In general, we would like all this hyperactivity to fall at all levels — in terms of movements, flights of Turkish fighters, exercises, and everything else. It could be wishful thinking,” the defence minister said.
Deputy minister of immigration, George Koumoutsakos, also called for the European Union to increase the number of its Frontex border agency officers at the Greek-Turkish border, anticipating higher levels of migrants in the warmer summer months.
Koumoutsakos also claimed that Turkey was recently caught escorting migrant ships to the Greek island of Lesbos, a violation of the European Union migrant agreement with Turkey that was signed in 2016.
“The boat did not enter Greek waters at any point, despite efforts by the Turkish patrol boats to escort it in,” a Greek coastguard statement released on Wednesday said.
Turkey has also previously stated that it expects migrants will return to the border areas after the Wuhan coronavirus crisis ends.
“When the coronavirus pandemic is over, we are not going to deter any immigrants who want to return to the Greek-Turkish border in Pazar,” Turkish interior minister Süleyman Soylu said.