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Dendias, Borrell at Evros: “EU is determined to protects its external borders”

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell visited the military border post at Kastanies border crossing with Turkey, in the Prefecture of Evros, on Wednesday morning.

The two officials walked up to the ‘chain’ at the border crossing, where are the last Greek soldiers before the border with Turkey are stationed.

Dendias and Borrell flew to the area with a helicopter, were briefed by a representative of the Greek Police about the situation at the borders, spoke with Frontex officers deployed there and made joint statements.

“The Greek borders with Turkey are also the European Union’s borders with Turkey and the EU has the determination to protect its external borders effectively, Dendias said among others.

He added that “Greece is always open to dialogue but will not enter into talks under duress nor assist the legalization of continuous violations of legality on Turkey’s part.”

He recalled the unprecedented situation with migrants coming form Turkey to the Evros borders in March,

“Today, after a short interval due to the pandemic, Turkey has once again stated that its land borders with Europe are open, its coast guard is escorting boats loaded with migrants heading toward the Greek islands and it insists on undermining security, stability and peace in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Dendias stressed.

On his part Borrell said that “it is clear that we are determined to protect the EU’s external borders and strongly support Greece’s sovereignty.”

“I wanted to come here and see for myself the situation on the EU’s external borders,” he said, adding that this, combined with information received from Dendias, the Greek army and police, allowed him to better understand the situation that Greece faced and may face again in the future.

Borrell is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.

Borrell noted that talks are expected to focus on the situation in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. He noted that he is aware of Turkey’s drilling activity in the Eastern Mediterranean but also the violations of Greek airspace that have worsened the situation between Greece and Turkey and, consequently, in Euro-Turkish relations.

“We share your concern, we discussed how we could stop the dynamics of escalation (tension)”, he said and expressed confidence that in the meetings he will have in Athens in the afternoon “we will be able to develop a common agenda to strengthen co-operation on these issues of common interest but also to seek dialogue with Turkey in order to protect our interests and strengthen regional stability.”

Regarding the presence of Frontex in the region, Borrell said that the roughly “100 staff from 20 different countries will remain here to demonstrate the EU’s support.”

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