BRUSSELS – Greece has said it will quickly finish construction of a controversial wall designed to keep out migrants, claiming that the thousands of people coming into the country each year threaten “social peace.”
“The construction will begin very shortly and will also be completely very shortly,” the country’s citizen protection minister Micalis Chrisochoidis said during a visit to Brussels on Monday (2 April).
The three-metre-high barrier is to block a 12.5km-long strip of land between Turkey and Greece. The rest of the border between the two countries is formed by the Evros river. Athens says almost 130,000 immigrants entered Greece via the land crossing last year.
According to Chrisochoidis, the wall is a “temporary solution” that has “substantive and symbolic importance.”
He painted a picture of society almost at breaking point due to the thousands of migrants who make their way from, traditionally, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan but now, since the Arab Spring, also Morocco, Algeria and Syria.
“The very essence of social peace is being questioned by this terrible humanitarian crisis. Greece is no longer ready to accept this time bomb in the foundation of its society,” the minister added.
He noted that the country – which is also mired in a severe economic crisis – has just agreed a public health programme to check migrants for infectious diseases.
He said the barrier will be funded by national money, after the European Commission recently dismissed the whole project as “pointless.”