Turkey illegally occupies Greek part of Evros River
About 35 Turkish soldiers have reportedly marched onto a floodplain site on the east bank of the River Evros near the town of Feres on the disputed border between Turkey and Greece.
Special forces and infantry set up a camp with a small Turkish flag flying from a tree and rejected Greek demands to withdraw.
Longstanding disputes over the position of the border arise from the fact the Evros River, which marks it out, often shifts its course.
The movement leaves land that is technically part of Greece to the river’s east, and land that is technically part of Turkey to its West.
The incursion took place on Friday and was reportedly a response to a Greek army survey of the 1.6-hectare site as part of plans to build additional border fences.
Turkey currently hosts more than four million refugees from Syria and other countries affected by conflict in the region. "In spite of our warnings and proposals of cooperation, Greece initiated land-leveling activities on May 13, 2020, and violated our contractual land border. This violation was immediately intercepted by our relevant authorities through the necessary measures," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ankara has informed Greece that the riverbed "has significantly changed due to natural and artificial reasons" since 1926 when the border was established and that technical coordination was needed for a solution.
The Turkish ministry added that the dispute could be resolved through talks between the two countries.
Athens says that the boundaries have been clearly defined by the international treaties of 1923 and 1926 and their delineation cannot be disputed.
It also says that, in a provocative move, members of Turkey’s police special forces have had a presence in the area of Melissokomeio, near the southern part of the Evros River in recent weeks, blocking the work of the Hellenic Army’s geographical service in view of the expansion of a border fence.
Greece wants to expand the border fence in order to avoid a repeat of the scenes in March when thousands of migrants amassed at the border trying to cross into Greece.
Speaking on Sunday at Skai TV, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias explained what happened:
"Greece began preparatory works – measurements, in reality – to build an extension of the Evros border fence. Turkey demanded through a note to be informed of this fence’s construction coordinates, and Greece responded negatively, as it ought to. We told the Turks the fence is being contructed on Greek territory and therefore we have no reason to inform it of anything. "
Dendias noted that no Greek government has the constitutional right to concede even a square centimeter of territory."