The EU’s exterior borders are tightening, so are attitudes

The EU’s exterior borders are tightening, so are attitudes

The EU’s exterior borders are tightening, so are attitudes

LYKOFI, Greece (AP) — By way of clouds of mosquitoes, police Capt. Konstantinos Solakidis and three different border guards set out on a ship patrol alongside the Evros River that varieties a pure border between Greece and Turkey.

The trail takes them by a maze of lengthy tubes, previous clusters of flamingos and fashioned by boat trippers visiting a nature reserve the place river followers meet the Mediterranean.

The Evros – referred to as the Merik River in Turkey – flows by Europe’s most distant areas. It’s turning into considered one of its militarizations as Greece and the broader European Union work on methods to forestall migrants from getting into the nation from Turkey.

In 2023, Greece plans to triple the size of a metal border wall. The 5-meter (16-foot) excessive construction, fabricated from bolstered metal columns, helps the muse as much as 10 meters deep and is topped with razor wire and an anti-grip metallic scaling barrier.

In army-controlled areas on the Greek aspect of the border, the European Union is funding and testing a complicated surveillance community that makes use of machine studying software program and glued and cell cameras and sensors to detect migrants attempting to cross the border.

Critics of the transfer argue that Greece is tightening authoritarian insurance policies in opposition to migrants and asylum seekers, working within the shadows in border areas managed by the army and the place exterior civilian displays are denied entry. The Related Press go to to the Greek-Turkish border space was beneath army and police supervision.

Police and border residents say they’re joyful the wall is working.

“It is inconceivable to penetrate,” mentioned Solakidis, who oversees patrols within the southern a part of the border. “It was constructed within the space alongside the Evros the place the crossing was most frequent. And immunity is 100%.”

In post-pandemic exercise, greater than 250,000 migrant crossings have been prevented this 12 months on the land border between Greece and Turkey as of late November, in line with Greek authorities. On the identical time, greater than 5,000 folks have been arrested after crossing the river.

Border guards, who use sniffer canines, loudspeakers and highly effective spotlights on patrol, say a number of incidents involving 1,000 migrants a day will not be unusual in the summertime and early fall, when water ranges alongside the Evros attain annual lows.

Small islands, some scattered within the midpoints of rivers that technically have borders, reappear seasonally, making crossings simpler.

Accomplished in 2021, the wall at present spans 37 kilometers (23 mi) in three separate sections, and authorities plan so as to add one other 100 kilometers (60 mi) to cowl many of the 192-kilometer land border.

When building of the border wall started a decade in the past, it was met with heated political debate and public protests supported by left-wing events and Greek human rights teams.

Suggestions has been muted round this time.

With little dialogue, Parliament just lately handed an emergency modification approving the extension, waiving guidelines defending business tenders and value controls by June 30, 2023.

A ballot printed by non-public Antena tv discovered that almost two-thirds of Greek voters help harder measures to regulate immigration, with solely 8.1% arguing that policing must be relaxed. Assist for austerity measures has been expressed throughout celebration traces, with greater than 60% of voters within the left-wing important opposition celebration – which formally opposes the wall’s growth.

The October ballot was performed by Mark Polling for the non-public Greek channel.

On a newly constructed part of the wall, cotton buds from close by farms are caught on razor wire, whereas wild goats are lower from their regular pastures, scraping alongside the river for one thing to eat.

A number of hundred meters (yards) west, Stavros Lazaridis, a 41-year-old farm employee, is dumping hay bales right into a truck. The extension cannot come quick sufficient, he mentioned.

“We had numerous hassle earlier than going over the wall. Greater than 200 or 300 (migrants) might move by the village in a day. It was uncontrolled,” he mentioned.

Native police stations have recovered pickup vehicles stolen by smugglers in a border village and deserted close to a bus station within the northern Greek port metropolis of Thessaloniki. Piles of discarded garments by migrants touring with solely a small backpack are sometimes discovered close to highways within the space.

Residents of border villages, Lazaridis mentioned, have been sympathetic to the migrants, fleeing the numerous wars within the Center East to hunt refuge in Europe, however they have been uninterested in the nightly barricades.

“The outdated individuals who dwell on this village, many dwell alone, and they’re afraid to depart their houses,” he mentioned. “It is quiet right here now, however additional north the place there are (partitions) issues are nonetheless loopy.”

Polling information means that residents of different EU border states, together with Poland and the Baltic states, have additionally develop into extra safety aware as threats such because the conflict in Ukraine loom nearer to the bloc’s exterior borders.

And an escalation in disputes between Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and mining rights has darkened disputes over migration.

Greece filed a collection of worldwide complaints in October after border police discovered 92 male migrants, stripped them of their garments, and accused Turkish authorities of intentionally pushing them throughout the border.

Turkey has repeatedly accused Greece of secretly deporting potential asylum seekers, referred to as pushback, and placing their lives in danger.

Athens is beneath fireplace from main human rights teams, the UN and EU refugee company and even a authorities advisory panel that claims it has collected tons of of credible accounts suggesting an often-violent pushback alongside the Greek-Turkish border. As much as 20 years.

UN and EU businesses are demanding the creation of an impartial border monitoring company, a request that Athens has up to now did not act on.

Disputes with the EU’s border nations, and the customarily reputable safety considerations they pose, have lowered consideration to migrants in want of worldwide safety and tempted European governments to undertake draconian insurance policies, Begum Basdas argued for the Centre’s basic rights. Harty Faculty of Berlin.

“The militarization of migration is making it inconceivable for us to see it as a human rights concern… and what actually worries me is the prevalence of authoritarianism by the administration of migration within the European Union,” Basdas mentioned.

“Folks do not actually criticize border securitization or constructing partitions as a result of they do not actually see the connection between immigration and the erosion of democratic values ​​in their very own atmosphere, in their very own proper,” he mentioned.

“However, , these partitions are actually being constructed round us.”


Contributed by Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki, Greece.


Observe AP’s international migration protection

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