Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the European Union on Friday to "seriously consider" funding for the expansion of a metal fence against migrants at the land border between Greece and Turkey.
Speaking on the sidelines of a visit along the border in Ferris in the northeast, Mitsotakis said: "I think it's time for the EU to seriously consider European funding for this type of project."
"We are contributing to European security, and we are also contributing to a more effective European asylum policy."
Athens decided to add 35 kilometers within a year to this 5-meter-high metal fence along the bank of the Evros River, which marks the border with Turkey.
The fence is currently 37.5 kilometers long, according to government data, and the government wants to increase it by an additional 100 kilometers by 2026.
Mitsotakis has repeatedly stressed that even without EU funding, the operation, which costs around 100 million euros, would be financed from the national budget.
While recalling that the fence, which is condemned by migrant rights NGOs, is an "external border of the European Union", Mitsotakis stressed that it is a "significant contribution" to achieving a "new agreement on migration and asylum", as it allows the protection of external borders.
Despite the demands, the European Commission reiterated in January its opposition to EU funding of walls and fences.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ilva Johansson said: "There is no money in the EU budget for this, if we spend money on walls or fences there will be no money for other things."
On the other hand, Greek police announced on Friday that they had arrested more than 40 people accused of involvement in a network that smuggled more than 2300,<> migrants across the country's borders.
Police said in a statement that another 55 people were suspected of being linked to the network, which provided more than 2500,<> forged documents.
The criminal network, which carried out its operations from Athens and Thessaloniki, had 4 workshops for forgery purposes and 12 apartments to hide migrants, according to the same source, and more than 80 migrants were arrested and deported.
Police said the network has charged up to $10,800 per person and is suspected of raising more than $9.7 million during these illegal operations since mid-2022.