In the border region of Evros, the Greek Prime Minister sets out to conquer the nationalist electorate
“Three years ago, in this region, tens of thousands of migrants sought to enter Greek territory (…) and tried to turn this area into a battlefield”, To launched, Friday March 31, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, back to a steel wall 5 meters high and facing border guards operating in the border region of Evros, in the north of Greece.
The Greek Prime Minister, who barely two days earlier announced the holding of legislative elections on May 21, thus inaugurates his campaign by reminding voters of the episode at the end of February 2020 when the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had affirmed that it would let through, via the land border with Greece, migrants wishing to go to the European Union (EU). Thousands of them had gathered at the Kastaniés border post and violence had broken out with the security forces for several days.
“Greece won this battle, it reversed the plans of those who instrumentalized the pain of these people”, continued, on Friday, the Greek Prime Minister in a warlike speech aimed at seducing voters in this region, traditionally nationalists and close to the far right. From Evros, Mr Mitsotakis announced the 35 km extension of the existing wall – which will cover almost the entire 192 km border between Greece and Turkey – as well as the deployment of 250 border guards additional. On this occasion, he also declared that he would be a candidate for the legislative elections in this same region.
Since 2020, the Evros, which the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, then called “Shield of Europe”, turned into a real military fortress. A militarized zone for which journalists, humanitarian workers and even emergency services find it difficult to obtain authorization to approach the river. In addition to the wall and barbed wire, drones, infrared cameras with thermal sensors have been set up, and nearly 400 officers from the European border surveillance agency, Frontex, positioned.
If the EU finances the purchase of this ultramodern equipment, it refuses to give money for the construction of walls at the external borders of its space. Greece, as well as twelve other countries, had however requested this financial aid from Brussels in 2021. It does not matter for Kyriakos Mitsotakis: “ With or without European money, the wall in Evros will be finished “, he assured. Thursday, in the European Parliament, the Socialist MEPs, of the European left, the centrists of Renew Europe, the Greens, but also half of the members of the right-wing group (European People’s Party) voted against the European financing of the walls through the EU.
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