ALEXANDROUPOLI, Greece – High-tech deterrents and a 16-foot wall topped with barbed wire are being used to stop the crush of illegal immigrants flooding across the border. But this is not the U.S. border. This is Greece.
While Greek beaches may be reopened for business after a brutal year without tourists, some visitors aren’t welcome – the tens of thousands of migrants who make their way into Greece from Turkey each year. Numbers are rising this year, and the crush of illegal migration puts a big strain on countries like Greece.
One primary route for entering the country is here along the northeast border with Turkey. Last year, Greek and Turkish border guards faced off as Turkish military vehicles attempted to tear down the border in order to let migrants through.
Police Major Dimosthenis Kamargios, head of Hellas border guard authority, said, “Our main goal is to prevent migrants from entering the country illegally. To accomplish this, we use new and modern equipment.”
CBN News visited the river that divides Turkey from Greece. The Greeks have had to get serious about trying to stop the flow of migration coming across this river just like the United States has had to do along the Rio Grande.
Migrants have been overwhelming this border region, and so the Greeks are building a fence that is very similar to the one on the U.S. southern border. This one is five meters tall and topped with barbed wire, and it is making a big difference, they say, along with some of the other high-tech measures that Greece is employing here along their border.
These measures include drones, thermal cameras equipped with artificial intelligence, and sensors along the new border wall. If those don’t work, Greek police are using sound cannons to chase migrants from the area.
“We have a clear ‘pre-border’ picture with our new systems, and we are ready to direct our forces accordingly in the field opposite areas where a mass entry (by migrants) might be attempted,” Kamargios said. “With new systems like the sound cannon and armored vehicles, we can prevent this entry. At the same time, the fence is being constructed in the areas where we saw we had the biggest problem, and the automated (surveillance) system will now provide us with an additional weapon to deal with this threat.”
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These new investments are coming none too soon. Locals in the area are fed up with the constant stream of migrants coming through their backyards, and they blame Turkey.
Athanasios Pemousis, director of the municipal authority of Poros and Ferres, said, “We have a neighbor who is always aggressive. There is never a compromising stance from that side, only an aggressive stance. We are always on the defense and we have to do something to defend ourselves. In this respect we are more optimistic. We wanted this to happen. We needed it.”
The European Union is pouring billions of dollars into slowing the flood of irregular migration, building out a new border force that is augmenting local police with officers and equipment. That may sound expensive, but the EU is realizing it’s cheaper than an open borders policy.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis explains, “Greece is committed to protecting its borders, which are also the borders of the European Union, while always, always ensuring full respect for human rights.”