Greece has announced that it will move forward with plans to triple the size of a towering barrier currently in place in the area and close off its land borders with its neighbour Turkey. The initiative comes as Greece dealt with an increase in refugee flows in 2022 and as war threats are being made by Turkey, which have strained ties between the two NATO members.
Greece is concerned due to this rhetoric.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, said over the weekend that Greece was continually inciting border conflicts with Turkey. Erdogan further cautioned that Turkey “can and will plough into Greece one night and take it over,” in his words.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis responded quickly across the aisle at a different gathering.
“Nobody should instruct Greece on how to use its own sovereign rights. It will keep enhancing its defences as necessary, “added said.
One of the most ambitious designs is for a 160-kilometer-long, towering steel barrier that would block off Greece’s land borders with Turkey. A fifth of that project is now completed, but Mistotakis travelled to the border town of Alexandroupolis over the weekend to supervise a 56-kilometer expansion that the Greek government estimates would cost more than $100 million.
To halt the flood of increasing illegal immigration, the first segment of that fence was constructed. Moreover, the barrier has Authorities in this country are concerned that more may attempt to cross as Turkish elections get closer. According to police data, they helped stop almost 250,000 illegal migrants from Turkey into Greece in 2022 alone.
According to U.N. figures for 2022, the number of illegal immigrants entering Greece increased from 2021 to 2022.
Such a projection, according to sources, exacerbates the escalating hostility between NATO members Greece and Turkey, who are both embroiled in a protracted arms competition over primarily American weaponry.
President Biden will request congressional approval this week for a $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter planes to Turkey. But the possible sale won’t prevent Greece from purchasing US F-35 aircraft, Mitsotakis is urging Capitol Hill to exercise extreme caution.
Mitsotakis said to reporters, “How the U.S. Congress will handle an arms sale to Turkey is its own problem. Nonetheless, it should not ignore Turkey’s belligerent actions, including its repeated war threats and both significant infractions of NATO alliance norms are airspace violations.
Turkey’s opposition to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership has strained ties between Ankara and Washington. But, as a result of Erdogan’s assistance in negotiating a deal that allowed Ukrainian grain imports from the Black Sea, those relations have just begun to warm up a bit.
Several US legislators, including Robert Menendez, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s leader, are still dubious. They promise to obstruct the alleged F-16 sale this week if Erdogan doesn’t demonstrate his ability to support Turkey’s NATO aims in multiple other ways.
Anything less, according to Athens’ government officials, will only heighten tensions with Turkey and increase Greece’s need to fortify its defences.