Athens responds to Erdogan’s challenges: Expansion of fence in Evros and vigilance on islands

On full alert for “hot summer” – How the Turkish president will try to “export” the internal dispute after the pressures on the Turkish economy – Mitarakis: We extend the fence by 80 km in Evros.

Athens remains on full alert in the face of the possibility of another “hot summer” on the occasion of Ankara’s internal impasse, due to which both a portion of the European press and international analysts estimate the possibility of further escalation of the Turkish challenges in the near future.

In the climate of vigilance that prevails in the Greek government, but also in the Armed Forces, the conditions of pressure on Greece in the field are evaluated daily, as well as the extreme rhetoric of the political class of the neighboring country, especially in a day of remembrance and mourning for Hellenism. today’s.

In this context, the message that the country will always guard its borders was sent today by the Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis. As he said, Turkey has been marginalized by its own choice, because it oscillates between West and East. “It is the only NATO member state that has not imposed sanctions on Russia and is currently blocking the accession of Finland and Sweden, which are necessary to strengthen the alliance. “This behavior of Turkey isolates it in an international environment at the same time that our country is presented as a strong ally,” he said.

Mr. Mitarakis stressed that at the moment there is tension with Turkey both in Evros and on the islands, but noted that our country has shown that it can guard its borders. Indicatively, he mentioned that in 2019 we had 72,000 arrivals, last year we had only 8,500 and this year in the first four months we are at 3,900. “In general, more immigrants are leaving our country than in the last 2.5 years and we have a decongestion on the islands,” he said, speaking to SKAI and the “Kalimera” show.

At the same time, he stressed that our country is strengthening its borders in Evros. “The old fence was 15 km long, 25 km were added during the Mitsotakis government and we are now starting to add another 80 km with funding from the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum so that there is a complete fence. “At the same time, the Greek port has been reinforced with offshore vessels, which have all the technology needed to be able to legally prevent attempts by illegal immigrants to enter the country,” he added.

However, he pointed out that “when we guard our borders, we see the opposition criticizing the security forces and the European left reproducing the Turkish propaganda about allegedly illegal deportations. “Greece will always guard its borders with absolute respect for international law.”

Asked if he was afraid of a “hot summer”, the Minister of Immigration replied that “we have gone through such tension again and we have faced it with determination.” “Creating tension in the Aegean is not good for anyone, but beyond that our country knows how to face its challenges.”

He concluded by emphasizing that our country has invested in equipment in the air and at sea and is ready to face any hybrid threat.

“Wall” in Evros, vigilance on the islands

An interpretation of “Erdogan’s political escalation” is made by Die Welt, who concludes that “a year before the elections, his party is losing ground in the polls, while inflation in the country is around 70%.” In addition, the Frankfurter Rundschau speaks of a “warm summer” in the Aegean, explaining that “the Turkish government is sharpening its tones towards Greece”. “Foreign Minister Mevlüt Tsavousoglu calls on the neighboring country to withdraw its troops from Aegean islands such as Rhodes, Kos, Lesvos and Samos,” he concluded.

Internal collapse

In fact, the neighboring country’s faltering economy, coupled with a rally in inflation, is fueling popular discontent, reflected in ruling coalition polls by Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and the National Democratic Party. Bahceli, back in the polls.

Although elections in Turkey are scheduled for June 2023, there is no guarantee that the Turkish President’s plan will not come as a complete surprise, provided he himself has managed to reverse the political and social climate to his detriment. In this relentless effort, Ankara is using verbal threats and ever-increasing pressure on the field, while seeking effective “tools” for consolidating the Turkish President’s electoral base. The same, internal expediency is served on the one hand by the new intervention in Syria with the request of the usual “enemy”, ie the PKK, but also by the firing of a new intensity with Athens by land, sea and air.

40,000 in the first four months

Already, 40,000 migrants have tried unsuccessfully to cross the Evros in the first four months of 2022, as the Minister of Civil Protection announced yesterday, as in the undeclared hybrid war of Turkey, the growing immigrants are returning as a “weapon” for the neighboring country. With the fresh experience from the instrumentalization of the refugee-immigrant in March 2020 in the remote area, the Minister of Citizen Protection, Takis Theodorikakos, is going to Evros today, in order to be informed about the level of readiness of the services, but also the situation in the area , in relation to the recent proliferation of migratory flows.

“The response of the Greek government is clear. There is absolutely no room for illegal immigrants to enter the country, from anywhere. “There is also absolutely no possibility for anyone to question the integrity of our country and national sovereignty,” Mr. Theodorikakos said yesterday, leaving a hint of the general attitude of the European leadership. “I believe that our European partners, friends and allies should evaluate very positively the fact that the Greek state is doing everything necessary to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, and therefore the EU,” said the Minister of Protection. of Politis, who is expected to go today to Kastanies, to the Control Center of the Hellenic Police in Nea Vyssa, but also to local Border Guard Departments of the prefecture.

Pressure at sea

At the same time, a corresponding increase in migratory flows is appearing in the Aegean, to which the main volume of provocative actions on the part of Turkey has been directed in recent days. Apart from the barrage of overflights and violations of the national airspace, Ankara continues the challenge through seismic surveys, this time “recruiting” the research vessel “Cesme”.

Following its popular tactic of issuing illegal NAVTEX for hydrographic surveys, which sometimes extend as far as the Central Aegean, the neighboring country is now throwing into the battle of impressions the research vessel “TSG Cesme” – after “Yunus” – in two areas (west of the 25th meridian between Skyros – Ai Strati and Lesvos), in an attempt to establish an illegal status quo for the islands of the Eastern Aegean. “We are not bluffing,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoλουlu was quick to point out, responding to journalists in his country regarding the Archipelago’s “demilitarization of the islands” narrative.

“Landing on the islands”

The Turkish provocative fan also includes the amphibious exercise “EFES 2022”, which is expected to take place from May 31st to June 8th, in the Gulf of Izmir. During the multinational exercise, the participants are trained in landing conditions on islands, since the scenario of the exercise includes: landing and air operations, real fire, but also unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flights.

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