Greece finalizes plan to build wall on border with Turkey

Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, right, and Armed Forces chief Lt. Gen. Konstantinos Floros, attend a presentation of the proposed construction of a new part of a fence which will be built at the border with Turkey, in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 19 October 2020

Greece finalizes plan to build wall on border with Turkey

  • Four Greek construction companies have been selected to build the new wall
  • A standoff occurred at the border earlier this year after Turkey said it would no longer prevent migrants trying to reach the EU

ATHENS: Greece’s government says it has finalized plans to extend a wall along its northeast border with Turkey, over concerns that migrants may try to stage mass crossings into the European Union country.
Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Monday that 26 kilometers (16 miles) of wall would be added to an existing 10-kilometer (six-mile) section in a 63-million-euro ($74 million) project due to be completed by the end of April.
A standoff occurred at the border earlier this year after Turkey said it would no longer prevent migrants trying to reach the EU, and tens of thousands tried to cross into Greece.
The two countries are also at odds over energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute that has triggered a dangerous military buildup in the region and fears of conflict.
Four Greek construction companies have been selected to build the new wall and upgrade the existing section of fencing, running along or close to the Evros River, which forms much of the border between the two countries.
The wall will be made using galvanized square steel tubes and concrete foundations, according to Greece’s public order ministry.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the border region on Saturday after a test installation of a section of the new wall.
The number of migrants and refugees traveling from Turkey to Greece fell sharply this year during the pandemic and after the border standoff prompted tougher border policing. Turkey has accused Greece of illegally pushing back migrants reaching its islands in the eastern Aegean Sea, a charge that Athens denies.
Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees worldwide, at nearly 4 million people, mostly from Syria, according to the UN Refugee Agency.


Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

Updated 28 November 2020

Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

  • The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference

GLASGOW: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said she had “never been more certain” of achieving independence, with Britain’s final departure from EU trading arrangements set to precede key Scottish elections in the months ahead.

The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference that the prospect of a break between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been closer.

“Independence is in clear sight — and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it,” she said.

Sturgeon and the SNP have argued for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the party’s overwhelming victory among Scottish seats in Britain’s 2019 general election.

Now she hopes that a further resounding win in May elections to the Edinburgh parliament will hand her party a mandate for a second bid to quit the UK.

Opinion polls in recent months have shown that a majority of public opinion in Scotland now supports independence.

The country chose to remain part of the four-nation United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum on the issue.

But Scots later voted by a thumping majority in 2016 to remain in the European Union, a referendum the Leave side won by a narrow margin when taking the rest of Britain into account.

Since then, “we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election and support for independence has risen, it has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,” said Sturgeon.

“Who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures? We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources.

“Let us reach out to all Scotland like never before,” she added.

Sturgeon urged her party to “demonstrate ... that Scotland is ready to take our place in the global family of independent nations,” saying it was “now a nation on the brink of making history.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rebuffed calls from for a another referendum, saying that the 2014 vote settled the question for a generation.

Earlier this month, Scottish independence campaigners seized on comments by the prime minister in which he said the creation of a devolved parliament in Edinburgh had been “a disaster.”

In response Sturgeon said the only way to protect the parliament was “with independence.”

On Thursday, she said a referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the next parliamentary session.

“The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they and future generations deserve,” Sturgeon said on Saturday.