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Greece to deploy hundreds of police to border with Turkey in anticipation of migrant influx

Greek police allegedly used live ammunition against asylum seekers trying to cross the border [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 May, 2020

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Four hundred additional police have been sent to Greece's border with Turkey as a 'precautionary measure' against a potential influx of asylum seekers after coronavirus lockdowns are lifted.
Greece will reinforce its police patrols on its border with Turkey, an official said Wednesday amid expectations that asylum seekers may renew their attempts to reach Europe. 

An additional 400 police will be sent to the northeastern Evros river border region "as a precautionary measure", police spokesman Thodoros Chronopoulos told AFP.

The move follows statements by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who said that when countries begin lifting their coronavirus lockdowns, migrants will again attempt to cross to Europe.

The border area was the scene of violent push-backs of asylum seekers in March after Turkey said it would no longer prevent migrants from attempting to reach the European Union.

For days, Greek riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at migrants trying to cross the border.

Many witnesses have alleged that police also fired live ammunition at people trying to get across, resulting in the death of a Pakistani man named Muhammad Gulzar. However Greek dismissed the claims as "fake news".


Tens of thousands of migrants are being held in detention centres in Greece, in conditions human rights groups have described as deplorable.

On Tuesday, Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told Skai TV that Athens was aware of "certain statements that suggest we will face pressure on our borders again, especially our land borders."

After the influx of asylum seekers, Athens said it would extend a razor-wire border fence, a move that has created a new dispute with Ankara.

Turkey says it should be consulted about the fence expansion, noting that the Evros riverbed "has significantly changed due to natural and artificial reasons" since the border was established in 1926.

Ankara says "technical coordination" is required, and that it would not allow any "fait accompli" on its border.

Greece responded by saying it is not obliged to consult Turkey about infrastructure on its own side of the border.

"We will proceed with the fence expansion. It is our constitutional obligation to protect Greek soil", said Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

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