Josep Borrell, the European Union’s (EU) high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said that the EU was determined to protect its external borders during his visit to Greece on Wednesday.
Against the backdrop of increasing tensions between Greece and Turkey, Borrell visited the land border separating the two countries at Kastanies in Evros in northeastern Greece, accompanied by Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias.
“I wanted to come here and see for myself and observe the situation on this external border of the EU,” Borrell said. This visit was meant to “show our solidarity and to show how much we share your concerns,” he said.
“It is very clear that we are determined to protect the EU’s external borders and to strongly support Greece’s sovereignty… We have talked about how we can prevent an escalation,” he said.
Athens has been briefing its EU partners on Turkey’s drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean as well as its maritime claims and over-flights that have led to a significant deterioration of the relationships between Greece and Turkey and how this affects the EU’s relations with Turkey, Borrell said.
Wednesday’s visit allowed him to gain a better understanding of the situation Greece was facing and may be facing in the future, he added.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said that there is concern that migrants may again be allowed by Turkish authorities to reach the land border crossing, just as it had happened in late February and early March this year.
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) has deployed forces along the border, and today some 110 officers from 20 member states are still stationed there, Borrell said.
“Today, following a brief respite due to the pandemic, Turkey has once again declared that its land borders to Europe are open,” Dendias said. Turkey “also persists in undermining security and stability, as well as peace, in the eastern Mediterranean,” he added.