Greece has completed the construction of a 25-mile (40-km) long steel wall and a new surveillance system along the border with Turkey amid concerns about a possible surge of illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan this month.
“Our borders remain secure and inviolable. The new boundary wall has been completed and is actively guarded,” Greece’s Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis told reporters during a press briefing while visiting the site in the region of Evros on Friday.
“We cannot wait passively to see the impact of the Afghan crisis,” he added. “The high-tech, automated monitoring system is active. Possible refugee flows from Afghanistan will be stopped.”
About 8 miles of the steel wall has been there for some time along the Evros river, and with the latest extension, the wall is now 25 miles long and 19.7 feet (6 meters) high.
Greece began bolstering its border defense in recent months and authorities at the border have been warned about a possible new wave of illegal immigrants, likely coming from Afghanistan after the Taliban’s sweeping advance this month, sparking fears in Europe about a new migration crisis.
The recent events and the seizure of power by Taliban insurgents in the war-torn nation have fuelled the European Union to resist a possible repeat of the 2015 refugee crisis when nearly 1 million people fleeing the Middle East and beyond crossed into Greece from Turkey before traveling north to wealthier states.
Greece is insisting it will not allow a repetition of the 2015 crisis. Border forces are warned to make sure the country does not become Europe’s gateway again.
Neighboring Turkey has also expressed concerns over a potential wave of illegal immigrants coming from Afghanistan.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on nations in Europe on Thursday to shoulder the responsibility for people fleeing Taliban forces, warning that Turkey will not become Europe’s “refugee warehouse.”
“We need to remind our European friends of this fact: Europe—which has become the center of attraction for millions of people—cannot stay out of [the refugee] problem by harshly sealing its borders to protect the safety and wellbeing of its citizens,” Erdogan said. “Turkey has no duty, responsibility, or obligation to be Europe’s refugee warehouse,” he added.
The latest issue on immigration that is possibly going to impact both nations will become “a serious challenge for everyone,” Erdogan told Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a telephone conversation on Friday. Erdogan said it has also begun reinforcing its border with Iran.
The government in Greece said last week they are not going to allow illegal immigrants seeking asylum to cross into Europe and will turn refugees back.
Reuters contributed to this report.