Police fired tear gas after clashes broke out on Greece's border with Turkey near the main Kastanies border crossing on Wednesday, March 18. Approximately 500 migrants attempted to break down a border fence to enter Greece, prompting Greek and Turkish security forces to fire tear gas. According to media reports, the clashes started at 02:00 (local time) and lasted for about two hours. Further clashes were subsequently reported again later in the evening.
An estimated 2000 migrants are still present along the Greek-Turkish border, following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's announcement on February 29 that the country's borders with Europe were open and encouraged refugees in Turkey to cross the border into Greece. On Wednesday, March 18, Turkish authorities declared that six land and sea border crossings with Greece and Bulgaria will be closed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The latest violence came shortly after President Erdogan's video conference with the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain to discuss the migrant issue.
Similar incidents and a heightened security presence are to be expected along the Greek-Turkish border in the coming days and weeks.
Individuals near the Greek-Turkish border are advised to monitor the situation, avoid the affected areas, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.