Greece plans fence with Turkey to keep out migrants

Greece announced plans Monday to build a fence along its border with Turkey in an effort to keep out migrants, mostly from Asia and Africa.

If the plan goes forward, the fence would cover a 12.5-kilometer (8-mile) stretch in the Orestiada area of northeastern Greece, according to BBC News.

Public Order Minister Christos Papoutsis said the goal of the fence would be to prevent illegal immigration to all of the European Union in an interview posted on his website.

"We also plan to upgrade and modernize the Greek Coast Guard and at our land borders to create a fence to deter illegal immigrants," he said in the interview, as reported by the AP. "Greek society has exceeded its limit in its capacity to accommodate illegal immigrants."

The proposed stretch of land is a prime area for migrants to cross into Greece and then the European Union from Africa and Asia. Frontex, the European Union's border agency, reports that about 90 percent of all illegal immigration into the European Union comes through Greece. An average of 245 people crossed that route every day in October 2010.

Opposition parties have attacked the plan, with the Greek Communist Party calling it "inhuman and ineffective."

The fence proposal comes during a time of great uncertainly and unease in Greece concerning the state of its migrants. In 2010, the country became a hot spot for new irregular migrants coming to Europe as a result of other countries like Italy cracking down on migrants and European Union laws on asylum seekers, as GlobalPost reported last month. About 50,000 people -- many from war-zone countries like Afghanistan and Iraq -- are currently waiting for asylum in Greece.

"EU law stipulates that asylum seekers must stay in their country of entry (or wherever they were caught) and that member states can send them back to the country where they entered. Now, that country is almost always Greece," the article states. "Despite officials’ understanding of the problem neither the EU nor the Greek state has implemented a solution."

See this GlobalPost slideshow on the Greece-Turkey border.