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‘Greece won’t become gateway to Europe for irregular migration flows’: Notis Mitarachi

Since 2015, over one million people have reached Greece fleeing warzones and extreme poverty, and most continued their journey to other European countries until the borders along the Balkan route to Central Europe were sealed off.

IANS | Athens |

Greece will not become a gateway to Europe for irregular migration flows as it happened in the 2015-2019 period, the country’s Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachi told Parliament, pointing to recent developments in Afghanistan.

Mitarachi’s remarks on Friday come as the Taliban takeover of most of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US forces has sparked deep concerns in Greece, as well as across Europe, over a possible replay of mass migration flows and the humanitarian crisis of recent years, reports Xinhua news agency.

Currently, Greece is on alert and bolstering security along the borders with Turkey, officials in Athens have said.

The erection of a fence along the Turkish border in the north was completed a few days ago, the government said.

The 27-km-long and five-meter-high steel fences were added to an existing 12.5-km-long wall, which was reinforced.

A new electronic border surveillance system had also been installed.

The project that cost nearly 63 million euros ($74 million), started last year following the increased pressure on this part of the borders by thousands of asylum seekers in March 2020.

“The Afghan crisis is creating new data in the geopolitical sphere and at the same time is creating possibilities for migration flows. We have to prepare ourselves for the possible consequences,” Minister of Civil Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis told Greek national broadcaster ERT during a recent visit to the area.

The Greek government is in talks with the European Union (EU) for financing the extension of the border fence, local news site “in.gr” has reported.

The country has also called for prompt and close cooperation between EU member states and with third countries to cope with the arising new challenges.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jointly urged the international community last week to provide more support to countries closer to Afghanistan to handle the crisis.