In a half-hour telephone conversation on Friday between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan there was a consensus that the two countries face the same challenge regarding the refugee pressures that may arise from recent developments in Afghanistan.
Mitsotakis and Erdogan agreed that the countries in Afghanistan’s immediate neighborhood should be supported so that the Afghans stay as close as possible to their homes, while Athens and Ankara have both insisted that they cannot afford to carry any additional refugee weight.
The two leaders also discussed the recent fires in Greece and Turkey as well as climate change, with the environment being identified as an area in which there can be bilateral cooperation.
Prior to the call, government sources had pointed out that “Athens considers that contact with Turkey is necessary, as the wider region, and especially the two countries, may be affected by new refugee flows” and therefore face a common problem.
The same sources added that, “in any case, Greece will continue to show the same efficiency in guarding both land and sea borders.”
Meanwhile, Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis and Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Friday that Greek borders “will remain secure and impenetrable,” as they visited the northeastern region of Evros.
“The Afghan crisis is creating a new reality in geopolitics and at the same time it is creating the possibility of migration flows,” Chrysochoidis said.
“It is well known that we, as a European country, participate in the institutions of the European Union and within this framework a number of decisions are taken. However, as a country, we cannot wait idly for the possible consequences,” he added.
For his part, Panagiotopoulos said that Greece will “shield itself against any possible or existing security threat.”
Like other European Union member-states, Greece is concerned that developments in Afghanistan could trigger another big wave of migration to Europe.
The government spokesman said on Thursday that border forces are on alert to avoid any migrant arrivals.