Minister wants Evros border fence

Citizens’ Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis announced that authorities plan to build a fence along Greece’s 206-kilometer land border with Turkey, similar to the US-Mexico frontier, in an effort to curb a seemingly endless influx of illegal immigrants. In comments made to the Athens News Agency on Saturday, Papoutsis said the government was determined to harden its stance. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the contribution of other European Union countries in the fight to curb illegal immigration despite the mobilization of dozens of guards from the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex along the Greek-Turkish border in November. «Cooperation with other EU states is not going well. Now we plan to construct a fence to deal with illegal migration,» the minister was quoted as saying. «Greek society has reached its limits in taking in illegal immigrants,» Papoutsis said. «Greece can’t take it anymore.» In a clear reference to burgeoning migrant ghettos in Athens, Patra and other major cities where tensions between immigrants and residents are on the rise, Papoutsis said that the «acute problems in large urban centers» would not be tackled unless migrant numbers are reduced. «I want to make it clear that the only migrants that will remain in our country are those meriting international protection or political asylum. All the others must receive the message loud and clear. They must either leave the country by means of our voluntary repatriation program or by forced deportation,» Papoutsis said. The minister added that the government would also crack down on migrants trying to leave the ports of Patra and Igoumenitsa for other EU countries.