On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged the European Union to “seriously consider” offering financial support to help build a steel barrier to keep out immigrants along the country’s border with Turkey.
“I think it’s about time for the EU to seriously consider providing European funds for these types of projects,” the head of government told AFP, on the sidelines of a visit announcing the project at Feres in northeastern Greece.
“After all, we’re contributing towards European security and we are also contributing towards a more integrated and effective European asylum policy.”
A five-meter-high steel fence that stretches along the Evros river and marks the border with Turkey will be extended by 35 kilometers (21.7 miles) by Athens.
The fence will be extended by 100 km by 2026 from its present length of 37.5 km, which Athens hopes to complete within a year.
The initiative, which is expected to cost 100 million euros ($108 million), will still proceed, according to Mitsotakis.
“What you see here is an obstacle that the Greek government has built in order to protect the borders of a country which also happens to be the external borders of the European Union,” he said.
“I’ve always been a firm believer that we cannot reach a new agreement on migration and asylum unless we protect our external borders.
“And what we’re doing here, I think, is a significant contribution towards that end. What you see here has been funded exclusively by the Greek budget, by Greek taxpayers.”
The debate on the financing of such fences resurfaced during an EU summit in February.
Several countries, including Austria and Greece, have called for EU funding to strengthen fences along the bloc’s external borders to reduce the flow of asylum-seekers.