ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities say they are planning a major extension of a wall along the country’s border with Turkey and are seeking European Union financial support for the additional construction.
Notis Mitarachi, the migration affairs minister, said the steel wall would be extended from 40 to 120 kilometers (25 to 75 miles), with construction work due to start later this year.
“It is a government decision to extend the border wall further and we have requested European funding,” Mitarachi said, speaking in an interview Sunday with a radio station near Athens. The minister posted the audio of the interview on social media Monday. He gave no details on the projected cost of the project.
Greece has accused neighbor and fellow-NATO ally Turkey of “instrumentalizing” migration as a means of exerting pressure on EU countries. That is an assertion rejected by Ankara, which says it has shouldered a disproportionately heavy burden, hosting some 4 million refugees, most of whom fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Last year, twelve countries including Greece requested EU funding for border walls which are currently financed by national budgets. The EU Commission does not currently pay for wall construction at its external borders, arguing that it would drain funds from other migration-related activities, including financing the EU border protection agency, Frontex.