(CNN) Greece has completed the construction of a 40-kilometer (25-mile) wall along the border with Turkey amid fears that the Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan could lead to the arrival of asylum seekers.
Greek government ministers toured the fenced area on Friday and said the overthrow of the Afghan government gave more impetus to their efforts to stem the flow of migrants along its borders.
The country was at the center of Europe’s immigration crisis in mid-2011, when millions of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq traveled to the continent. Greece has taken a tough stance rejecting the request of Turkey and international organizations to allow more immigrants within its borders.
“The Afghan crisis creates new realities in the field of geopolitics, while at the same time creating opportunities for immigrants. We as a country cannot remain inactive about the possible consequences,” Greek Civil Defense Minister Michaelis Chrysostom said in a government statement after the tour. Boundary wall completed Friday.
The Turkish government says on Friday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Greek Prime Minister Krikos Mitsodakis about Afghanistan.
In a televised interview the previous day, he urged the European Union to help the country’s refugees. “If an interim period cannot be determined in Afghanistan, the pressure on migration will already be high, and it will increase, and this situation will be a serious challenge for everyone,” Erdogan said.
US President Joe Biden’s stance on the withdrawal of chaotic U.S. forces in Afghanistan has upset leaders in Europe, who are currently preparing for a possible refugee emergency.
Thousands of Afghans tried to flee the country last week as the Taliban seized power surprisingly quickly, ending two decades of US involvement in the country.
Locals gathered at Kabul airport in search of space on Western military planes. Those unable to leave face the return of the Taliban regime to repression, which expelled women from the streets and workplaces and used the death penalty for crimes including female prostitution, homosexuality and abandonment of Islam during the last regime in power between 1996 and 2001.
Even before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the epidemic exacerbated the migrant crisis. An agreement between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 barred migrants from traveling to Europe from the Middle East, but last year Turkey agreed to allow migrants into the continent, saying it had “reached its potential”.
The two countries share a border at the northeastern tip of Greece, which is often the destination for asylum seekers traveling via West Asia. There are many routes to Greece by sea.
Last year, several immigrants on boats told CNN that they had been deported from Greece, and Athens has repeatedly denied the allegation. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called for an inquiry into Greece’s border claims.
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