Greece announced its intention to increase border security in response to fears of a surge of refugees.
Reports from the European border agency Frontex anticipate an acceleration in border crossings caused by the tragic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, and the agency now plans to send more officers in response.
Meanwhile, the Greek government is hosting the 2nd European Conference on Border Management in Athens starting Thursday, February 23rd. European Ministers will convene with representatives from several EU institutions to discuss central topics like toughening border control, the return of illegal migrants to their countries of origin, and the need for a new European pact on migration.
While enhanced border security coincides with the meeting in Athens, these two unrelated events demonstrate that Europe is taking a harder line on its borders, as the realities of mass migration force a change in policy.
Starting Friday, February 24th, Greece will send 250 men to towns in the Evros region, where the river of the same name constitutes Greece’s land border with Turkey. A report from iapopsi.gr says that officers from the national police suspect human traffickers “will harmonize with the tragic situation in Turkey, and it is not excluded that they will ‘baptize’ masses of illegal immigrants as earthquake victims in order to pass them to Greece.” Consequently, the agency will increase its presence in Greece.
The decision complements EU-wide increased scrutiny over asylum applications, the EU’s agreement to help fund border fences, and plans by some EU countries to emulate the UK’s ‘Rwanda Option.’