Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Sunday, speaking at a nationally television press conference from the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), expressed a hardline position to the problem of illegal migration, curtly expressing different policy than the one followed by the preceding SYRIZA government in 2015.
The election of leftist SYRIZA to power in January 2015 – propped up by a small right-wing coalition partner – was followed only months later by hundreds of thousands of third country nationals, mostly from the Middle East, being ferried over to a handful of eastern Aegean islands by traffickers operating from the opposite Turkish coast.
“I will break-up the migrant smuggling networks, their prospective clients will know that they may pay 1,000 or 2,000 dollars and still not reach Greece, and I believe we have accomplished this to a large extent; we will not change our policy in the least bit,” he said, while thanking law enforcement, the Hellenic Coast Guard and the country’s armed forces for their efforts to guard the country’s border land and sea borders.
He also referred to the construction of a fortified wall along a stretch of the Greek-Turkish border in the northeast prefecture of Evros, and specifically along the only land frontier shared between the two countries that is not divided by the Evros (Maritsa) River. Mitsotakis said the wall will be extended, if necessary, while the coast guard has been reinforced with more craft and electronic surveillance systems.
“As you know Greece’s external borders are also EU borders, but above all we are safeguarding national sovereignty,” he stressed.