Greece’s minister of foreign affairs on Saturday reportedly conveyed Athens’ request for the extraordinary convening of the EU foreign ministers’ council to deal with the latest and explosive developments related to a resurgence of the migrant crisis threatening the country.
Greek FM Nikos Dendias spoke with High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell hours after a series of violent incidents at a border crossing on the Greek-Turkish land frontier in the Thrace region, when hundreds of third country nationals attempted to break into Greek territory through the Kastanies post.
After initially being prevented by border guards and police, who used tear gas and chemical repellant, scores of the would-be migrants threw rocks, missiles and even their own tear gas canisters.
The assembled third country nationals at the border post comes after an inflammatory announcement by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that his security forces would not stop “Syrian refugees” from trying to reach the European Union, initially pointing to a 72-hour “grace period”.
“European Union” in this case is the land border with Greece (and Bulgaria) as well as dozens of eastern Aegean islands off Asia Minor, western Turkey.
On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of would-be migrants, a large bloc of who were identified at the scene by reporters as Afghan nationals, were transported from the Istanbul area to the border city of Edirne. White buses without company names, and reportedly for free, transported a few thousand people.
The stepped up security on the border and at sea, including the deployment of military resources, comes as the Mitsotakis government is apparently pivoting towards a strict policy vis-à-vis the illegal entry of would-be asylum seekers and irregular migrants into the country from Turkey.
Back in Athens, Dendias also spoke on the phone with his counterparts from Austria, Bulgaria and North Macedonia. He also spoke, according to diplomatic sources, on Friday evening with Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. He also met with US ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, with the migrant crisis reportedly the object of the meeting.