Greece dismisses reports Turkey occupied border strip

ATHENS: Greece on Sunday (May 24) dismissed reports that Turkish soldiers had occupied a strip of Greek territory in the Evros border region, where Athens is expanding a fence to keep migrants out.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said allegations, picked up the the British press, that Turkish troops had occupied a patch of land that is normally submerged at this time of year on Greece's side of the border were "utterly false".

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Dendias acknowledged, in an interview with Skai TV, that "a presence of Turkish forces has been observed in a strip of land where some preparatory works had been made by the Greek army" after Athens would not give Turkey the coordinates of its fence expansion in Evros in advance.

But Greece had asked Turkey "not to make any other move in the area", he said.

READ: Greek migrant hotel ransacked in latest tensions over relocations

The Greek defence ministry had already on Saturday said that "at no time Greek soil has been occupied by foreign forces".

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Turkish special forces have been present in recent weeks as the Greek Army conducts preparatory work for the expansion of the border fence to prevent massive crossings from migrants.

"We will proceed with the fence expansion. It is our constitutional obligation to protect Greek soil", Dendias said.

Tensions ran high in March when Turkey encouraged tens of thousands of asylum-seekers to travel to the border with Greece and try to cross into the European Union.

channel news asia