Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis on Monday joined his Defense counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos on a visit to the Greek-Turkish border area of Evros, where they stressed that despite the departure of thousands of migrants and refugees from the Kastanies crossing, the “state of emergency” is not over.
The visit comes just a few days after a makeshift camp on the Turkish side of the border was dismantled and hundreds of refugees and migrants who have been waiting for the border to yield so they could push into Europe were evicted from the area.
“We are back at the Kastanies border post in order to assess the situation,” Panagiotopoulos said after being briefed by the chief of the National Defense General Staff, Konstantinos Floros.
“We also has the opportunity to talk with the leaderships of the armed forces and the Hellenic Police on the local level, with the people who carried out their mission of guarding the border, of managing to maintain their impregnability from the surprise push of Clean Monday, and, of course, to plan our next moves,” Panagiotopoulos added. He was referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement on February 28, ahead of a long weekend in Greece, that Turkey would no longer prevent migrants and refugees from trying to push into Europe, leading to thousands gathering on the land border with Greece.
Panagiotopoulos, however, said that “the state of emergency has not ended,” adding that the armed forces “remain vigilant.”
The visit, said Chrysochoidis, was intended to show that the armed forces, the police, European border agency Frontex and the security forces of other European member-states sent in to help their Greek counterparts, were determined to continue safeguarding the borders of Greece and Europe.
“We are at the beating heart of European solidarity,” he said, hailing the support of EU member-states to the Greek effort.
He also announced that an existing fence at the border would be extended to cover more areas that are vulnerable.