Greece follows U.S. example by building giant border wall to keep out illegal immigrants Staff
Posted: Jan 05, 2011 1:53 PM

The Greek government has unveiled plans to construct a wall along its 128-mile land border with Turkey in order to tackle the influx of illegal immigrants.

Interior minister Christian Papoutsis said the wall was a necessary measure after more than 100,000 people illegally entered the Mediterranean nation last year.

But the plans - which have compared with the 650-mile barrier along sections of the border between the U.S. and Mexico - have been criticised by the European Commission as a 'short-term measure' that does not deal with the root of the problem.

The first stage in the planned structure was unveiled yesterday, with a 10-ft high, eight-mile-long trial fence to cover a section of the border near the town Orestidada.

According to the EU's border agency Frontex, the area concerned has become the main entry point for migrants travelling from Africa and Asia, with an average of 245 people per day crossing illegally in October alone last year.

Around 90 per cent of all illegal immigrants into the EU have come through Greece, it is estimated.

Mr Papoutsis insisted the new wall along the land border was necessary after the EU deployed border control troops to the region last year.

'Co-operation with other EU states is going well. Now we plan to construct a fence to deal with illegal migration,' he said.

'The Greek public has reached its limit in taking in illegal immigrants. We are absolutely determined on this issue. Greece can’t take it anymore.'

But while the deployment of troops on the border has been extended until March, the EU Commission said barriers such as that proposed by the Greek government were not the solution to the issue.

A spokesman said on Monday that for the EU Commission said that such proposals were 'short-term measures which will not allow us to tackle illegal immigration in a structural manner'.

'We made clear with Greece that the country needs sound and long-term structural reforms and measures to better manage its border, to better address the challenges linked to migration flows,' Michele Cercone said.

'It is important that these borders... are managed in order to discourage and interrupt traffickers and smugglers that exploit (illegal immigrants).'

The proposals have also been criticised within Greece itself, with the national Communist Party labelling the plans 'inhuman and ineffective'.