EU pledges Greece all support it needs to tackle migrant crisis

A Greek riot policeman patrols the border gate in Kastanies village as migrants try to enter Greece. (AP pic)

KASTANIES: The European Union will provide Greece “all the support needed” to help tackle the migration surge from neighbouring Turkey, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday.

“Those who seek to test Europe’s unity will be disappointed. We will hold the line and our unity will prevail,” von der Leyen said.

She was speaking after flying by helicopter over the border area with the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and chiefs of the European Council and European Parliament.

The European Commission president said the bloc would provide €700 million, half of it immediately, to help manage the migrant situation.

In addition, the EU border agency Frontex will deploy a rapid intervention team including an additional 100 guards backed by coastal patrol vessels, helicopters and vehicles, she said.

“Our first priority is making sure that order is maintained at the Greek external border, which is also the European border,” von der Leyen told journalists.

Mitsotakis earlier announced that Greek border forces had averted “over 24,000 attempts at illegal entry” by land and sea, making dozens of arrests.

“Europe has not been up to the task of dealing with the migration crisis,” he said.

“I hope this crisis will serve as a wake-up call for everyone to assume their responsibilities.”