Border police call for more staff

Border police in Greece?s northeast Evros region on Tuesday asked the Citizens? Protection Ministry for extra manpower and technical equipment to deal with the increase of illegal crossings into the country during the peak summer months.

?The state must finally shoulder its responsibilities,? said border police union chief Haralambos Pantelidis, adding that no guards have been recruited by the local municipality since 2000.

The official said the large numbers of unregistered migrants trying to sneak into the EU member state meant that guards were busy managing the flow, rather than curbing it.

?Our only weapon is our good will,? Pantelidis said, calling for an additional 500 staff as well as technical equipment including four-wheel-drive vehicles and prisoner transport vans.

Meanwhile, reports yesterday said works were progressing in the construction of a 12-kilometer fence along part of the Greek border with Turkey, south of the Evros River, to stem irregular migration. The first set of a total 10,000 poles designed to support the fence have been planted 2 meters deep into the ground, reports said. Works have so far been held back because of bad weather as well as Turkish complaints that excavated earth at the site was being dumped into the buffer zone. Authorities have said the fence should be in place by the end of September.

The area is a major thoroughfare for migrants attempting to enter the European Union. In 2011, about 100,000 people were arrested for crossing Greece?s borders illegally, according to Greek police statistics. A European Commission ?checkup? carried out earlier this month found fault with the country?s porous eastern frontier with Turkey. Commission inspectors were expected in Greece yesterday to assess the country?s progress in implementing Europe?s open-border Schengen agreement.

In a related development, Turkey and Frontex, the EU?s border agency, on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding for more cooperation in preventing clandestine migration. The deal is designed to promote joint assessment and sharing of information to tackle illegal immigration.