Estonia to send five border guard officers to Greece
A patrol boat of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is scheduled to start its journey to the Greek island of Kalymnos on Oct. 20. Four crew and a liaison officer are to follow, tasked with guarding the southern sea borders of the European Union.
The boat, the M-15 of the Tallinn border patrol station, will be transported on a trailer to Athens, from where it will be ferried to Kalymnos where no patrol operations led by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency have taken place so far.
The boat’s four-member crew will be reinforced with a liaison officer, who will start work in the international coordination center based in the port of Piraeus. The task of the crew is to guard the EU’s external border by patroling the sea in the area, prevent illegal border crossings, and save lives. The boat is to stay in the Kalymnos area until the end of December, but depending on the situation, its mission can be extended until March.
Given the tense situation, the EU’s new Frontex mandate places bigger expectations on member states, head of the PPA’s office for integrated administration, Helen Neider-Veerme, said. Estonia will put up to 18 border guards and various equipment at the disposal of the agency.
“On one hand, it’s an obligation for member states, but on the other undoubtedly an opportunity for our officials to gain valuable knowledge and experience right in the center of the crisis that they can use later in Estonia,” Neider-Veerme said.
The island of Kalymnos is situated at a distance of eight nautical miles from the Turkish coast, between the popular tourist destinations of Kos and Leros. Illegal immigration has decreased over the last year, but the methods and routes used by traffickers are constantly changing. Recently, a speedboat carrying 18 illegal immigrants was detained in the port of Kalymnos.
Estonian border officials have previously taken part in Frontex operations near the Italian island of Lampedusa as well as at the Greek-Turkish sea border in the area of the islands of Chios and Samos. An Estonian patrol plane is currently stationed at Kalamata airport, and six expulsion officers and one citizenship verifier are working on the island of Lesbos.