Greece has prevented around 260,000 migrants from entering illegally in 2022 and arrested 1,500 traffickers.

AP reported this on Saturday.

Civil Protection Minister Takis Theodorikakos discussed the topic with ambassadors from other European Union (EU) countries plus Switzerland and the United Kingdom as he directed them to a still-expanding border wall in the country's northeast.

Theodorikakos emphasized to the 28 delegates that the border of Greece is also an external border of the EU.

"The task of protecting the border needs the support of European public opinion, the EU itself and its constituent members individually, said Theodorikakos. Our firm position is that the Member States of first reception of migrants cannot be only European destinations. We must there is solidarity between member states and a fair sharing of duties, close coordination is a must," he said.

This was confirmed by Cypriot ambassador Kyriakos Kenevezos, who spoke about the need for understanding from countries that do not have external EU borders.

UK Ambassador Matthew Lodge said "our priority is to protect human life and dignity threatened by criminal trafficking networks. Although we are no longer a member of the EU, we cooperate closely."

Greece's five-meter steel wall, facing neighboring Turkey to the east across the Evros River — called Merik in Turkey — currently stretches more than 17 miles and Greek officials say it is helping to cover another 10 miles.

Greece is currently expanding the wall, adding a 35km section with the ultimate goal of extending it to cover most of the 192km border.

Greece has repeatedly accused Turkey of weaponizing the plight of migrants by encouraging them to cross the border to unsettle Greece and the rest of the EU - effectively abetting traffickers.

Turkey accuses Greece of cruel treatment that endangers the lives of migrants.

Turkey, which the Cypriot ambassador called the elephant in the room at Saturday's meeting, also has its own problem with migrants - taking in around 5 million of them.

EU leaders worry that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could encourage a mass exodus to the EU, where most of the migrants and refugees want to go, preferably to one of the bloc's more prosperous member states.

The EU's border protection agency, Frontex, will add 400 more border guards in Greece - 250 of them in February - to its 1,800-strong force, Theodorikakos said.

illegal immigration