Greece insists on construction of fence along border with Turkey

January 4, 2011 11:14 am 

ATHENS, Jan. 4 — Greece reiterated on Monday its determination to proceed to the construction of a fence along the land border with Turkey in order to curb the increasing flow of illegal migration, despite EU reservations.

"It is hypocritical when some people accused Greece until recently of failing to protect its borders, according to the Schengen Agreement, and now criticize us because we seek to boost the surveillance of our borders," said Greek Citizens Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis in a statement released on Monday.

In an interview with the Greek national news agency ANA earlier on Monday, Papoutsis officially announced the government's plan to construct a 12.5-kilometer barrier along the border with Turkey to keep out thousands of illegal immigrants entering the country and the EU each year.

The idea seems to have immediately met with skepticism in Brussels. Michele Cercone, the spokesperson for EU Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom, commented that the construction of walls has been proven of short-term benefit but does not solve the challenge.

"Greek society can no more stand this burden. That's why we take measures. We have an obligation to the Greek citizens to address a harsh reality," said Papoutsis, noting that in the past year Greek authorities intercepted some 128,000 illegal immigrants.

According to estimates of the Greek authorities, more than 500, 000 persons have illegally entered Greece over the past four years.

From January to November 2010 the flow of illegal migrants trying to enter Greece and the EU from the Greek-Turkish land border along the Evros river increased to 43,500 persons from 6, 615 persons in the same period of 2009, said the Greek authorities. The area has turned into a main route for illegal migrants to enter the EU. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM

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