Amidst fears that the Syrian conflict will lead to an influx of migrants seeking entry to Europe through Greece, an additional 1,800 border guards are to be sent to the Turkish border.
Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias has announced that controls are to be tightened on Greece’s North-Eastern border with Turkey, to combat illegal immigration. The additional border guards will be posted at the Evros River, which the Economist notes is the "main entry point for illegal immigrants from Asia into Europe."
Keep Talking Greece reported Dendias said “We try to ‘seal’ the Evros river, our target is to stop Greece’s from being a place where everyone does whatever he wants [literally unfenced vineyard].” In addition to the extra guards the unit will be supported by an extra 26 new guard boats.
Police spokesman Christos Manouras told AP that deployment of the new border guards will begin on Thursday, in part to deal with a possible increase in illegal immigration due to the Syrian conflict. Thousands of Syrians have fled their homeland for Turkey.
European policeman from Frontex, the EU's border control agency, help Greece defend its border. However, efforts to contain the flow of immigrants are thwarted by Turkish authorities lax approach to the issue. Civil rights activist Murat Celikkan told the Economist that Turkey, overwhelmed with immigrants, "wants to get rid of them," thus turns a blind eye to the illegal crossings into Greece. Celikkan said the Turks "do not see why Turkey should take on the burden of hosting immigrants just to help out the EU."
In the run up to the June elections in Greece two of the political parties which are now part of the coalition government, New Democracy and PASOK, put immigration on their agendas, promising to take measures to tackle illegal immigration. The mass influx of illegal migrants is considered the key reason for the massive increase in crime. The governments previous inability to tackle the issue led to a marked increase in support for Golden Dawn which campaigned on a platform of stopping illegal immigration.