Estonia to send two patrol boats and 20 border guards to Greece ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

BWB-built boats, the Pikne and the Udria, in PPA service.
BWB-built boats, the Pikne and the Udria, in PPA service. Source: Jarek Jõepera

Estonia is ready to send two patrol boats and 20 border guards to Greece to counter the migratory pressure from Turkey, the Minister of the Interior said on Tuesday.

On Monday, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, decided to send emergency aid to Greece to secure the EU's borders. The Warsaw-based agency, which on Sunday announced "increased vigilance" and deployment of additional troops to Greece, said it was asking the European Union and Schengen member states to contribute border guards and equipment.

In response, Interior Minister Mart Helme (EKRE) said in a news release on Tuesday: "Frontex estimates the sea border needs more effective surveillance, and Estonia is ready to send Greece an additional patrol boat with a four-member crew and extend the period of service of a patrol boat already in the area."

"In addition, Estonia is ready to deploy 20 experts to the region to support Greece in guarding the external border," the Minister of the Interior said.

Director General of the Police and Border Guard Service (PPA) Elmar Vaher said police are constantly exchanging information with Frontex, partner countries and with PPA personnel who are currently stationed on the European Union's external border in Greece.

Vaher said: "Given the migratory pressures in Greece, today we proposed sending as much assistance as possible at the European external border, both in terms of people and resources. We have the experience of rapid deployment of police forces in 2015 and 2016 when three ESTPOL teams visited Slovenia."

Helme will make an offer of help in this regard at the extraordinary meeting of the European Union Home Affairs Council in Brussels on Wednesday. 

On the basis of the Member States' offers, Frontex will draw up an operational plan and the actual need for Estonia to be deployed will then become known. Helme said Estonia is ready to provide similar assistance to Greece directly, without the mediation of the European Border and Coast Guard.

Estonia's offer is higher than the European Union regulation on European Border and Coast Guard adopted last November. There, Estonia assigned 18 border guards to the Permanent Corps of Rapid Response Reserve set up by the Member States.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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