Helme: Estonia ready to reinstate border control in new migration crisis
According to Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE), a flood of migration is on the move from Turkey, and the globally spreading novel coronavirus is a health as well as security risk, and if necessary, Estonia is prepared to reinstate full border control on its external borders. He added that Estonia is not willing to accept immigrants who have already arrived or may arrive in Europe.
"Europe is facing two quickly developing crises which mutually reinforce one another," Helme said. "Even bigger masses of immigrants than in 2015 are on the move from Turkey toward Europe, which is why in addition to containing the spread of the coronavirus, Europe must also be prepared for a new migration crisis."
According to the minister, robust steps taken by Greece and other border countries currently under pressure in order to protect their territories and populations deserve full support and recognition.
He noted that as the European Union's collective border guard agency, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) must quickly provide Greece and Bulgaria with maximum aid in order to prevent uncontrolled migration into Europe.
"If necessary, Estonia is prepared to send additional forces to protect Europe's external borders in order to demonstrate our solidarity," he added.
Helme noted that the state is carefully monitoring both the migration crisis and the coronavirus outbreak.
"If necessary, we are prepared to instate full document checks at our border crossing points and along our external borders, as well as the return or isolation of undesirable people or people dangerous to the state," the interior minister said.
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) announced on Sunday that at least 13,000 migrants have gathered along Turkey's land border with Greece.
Greek police used tear gas and sound grenades to ward off repeated attempts by migrants to force their way across the border.
Frontext announced on Sunday that it is in a state of heightened alert in connection with the situation, and will be sending additional forces to Greece.
Commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei Province, in late 2019. Worldwide, nearly 90,000 cases of coronavirus disease have since been confirmed, with more than 3,000 deaths attributed to the disease to date.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla