Cyprus has sent a team of 22 anti-riot police officers to assist Greece in handling the migrant crisis at the country’s border with Turkey at Evros river as tensions rise.
The police unit flew to Greece on Sunday aboard a Greek air force aeroplane and they are due to be deployed on Monday.
Cypriot government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos said, “the security force is going to Greece to help defend and protect the country’s and the EU borders”.
“The decision was announced after a long telephone conversation between President Nicos Anastasiades with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis”.
The security force was seen off at Larnaca Airport by Justice Minister George Savvides.
He said Greece needed assistance and the president immediately gave orders that a team of select officers be put together.
“Within a few hours the unit was prepared and departed on a Greek air force transport plane to assist in guarding Greece’s and Europe’s borders,” said Savvides.
He added: “In recent days there has been an escalation of irregular migration. Our country faces the biggest problem of all European countries, considering the indigenous population. Some 3.8% of the population are irregular immigrants and we hope that European countries will show their support to Cyprus”.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged Greece on Sunday to “open your gates” to refugees trying to enter the European Union from Turkey and said he hoped to win more help from the EU at talks on Monday.
Tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to get into Greece since Turkey said on February 28 it would no longer try to keep them on its territory – as agreed in 2016 with the EU in return for billions of euros in aid.
Turkey hosts about 3.6 million war refugees from Syria, where its troops and allied rebel forces are battling Russian-backed government forces and says the EU has failed to honour promises made to Ankara.