Relations between Greece and Turkey have long been strained over the
issue of illegal migrants from North Africa and other regions. Both Ankara
and Athens have accused the other of diverting illegal migrants.
"Greek society has reached its limits in taking in illegal immigrants,"
Papoutsis said on Jan. 1.
Officials said Greece serves as the entry point to the European Union
for migrants from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia. They
said at least 300,000 illegal aliens were residing in Greece.
Officials said Greece would model its border barrier after the United
States. The U.S. government has overseen construction of a multi-layered
security system along the border with Mexico, a project that includes land
and air patrols.
"We plan to build a barrier on the land border to block unauthorized
immigration," Papoutsis said.
Officials said the Greek government would draft plans for the border
wall in 2011 and later issue tenders. They said the focus of the project
would be the closure of a 12.5 kilometer stretch of the Evros river, which
separates Greece from Turkey. Greece has already been aided by the EU's
Frontex anti-migration agency.