The extension of the border fence across the Evros River will continue and will be completed, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias insisted to Kathimerini a few days after a series of demarches were exchanged between Greece and Turkey regarding a patch in the river’s southern part.
“Borders are a given. They do not change and they cannot change,” Dendias stressed and dismissed the “misinformation” that a Greek patch in the region of the Evros was occupied by Turkish forces.
He said the issue arose after Turkey lodged a demarche seeking information on the coordinates for the construction by Greece of the fence extension on the Evros. The demarche also asked that both countries come to an understanding on the issue.
Athens, Dendias said, rejected the Turkish request with a demarche of its own, “as what we do within the limits of our national sovereignty is our privilege and responsibility and we are not obliged to give account to anyone.”
Greece, he said, then lodged a fresh demarche after Turkish activity was detected in the region.
“From then on, an unacceptable spread of misinformation took place, about the occupation of, for example, 1.6 hectares of Greek territory,” Dendias said.
The area in question is at a point that floods every year after the autumn and is shown to be Greek in maps of 1923. Greece wants to extend the border fence to avoid a repeat of the scenes in March when thousands of migrants amassed at the Evros border trying to cross into Greece, with Ankara’s encouragement.
Weighing in on the issue on Monday evening, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in an interview on Star TV that Greece has an “inalienable right” to extend the fence.
Dendias also responded to the claim by the Turkish Foreign Ministry that there are no mutually agreed geographical coordinates in this area of the border, saying that “the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 and the relevant protocol of 1926 define the borders of the two countries in Evros.”
“What needs to be clarified is that the points from which measurements are made are changing, due to changes in the geomorphological characteristics of the Evros riverbed,” he said.
Mitsotakis said on Monday that the issue will be resolved at a technical level, while Turkey’s Ambassador in Athens Burak Ozugergin echoed the same sentiment.
“Since the start, we have been in agreement that this is not a border dispute. Rather, it is a technical matter which is absolutely normal for neighbors across land borders,” Ozugergin added. “This is a non-issue, let’s not turn it into one.”