A tense confrontation between Turkish police officers and Austrian commandos happened in Greece on Tuesday night as European forces struggle to hold back the swarms of illegal migrants who are being aided by the Turks.
Thirteen commandos from Austria’s Cobra elite special forces unit were patrolling the Greek-Turkish border in an armored car when Turkish police began shouting at them through the fence. “What are you doing here? This is not your country!” they asked, according to a report by the Greek newspaper Proto Thema.
The Austrian officers responded, “This is our country, and we are defending the European border.”
The unit was patrolling in the Evros region, which has been a flashpoint for violence since Turkey’s President, Recep Erdoğan, announced that his country would no longer prevent migrants from crossing Turkish territory in an effort to enter Europe illegally through the Greek border at the end of February. Since then, Greek security personnel have had to face daily battles with tens of thousands of migrants who are attempting to breach the border fence, often with the aid of the Turkish police, who have deployed tear gas against the Greeks as a distraction, as previously reported by Voice of Europe.
Several European nations, including Austria, have either sent or have pledged to send additional forces to reinforce the Greek border at the request of the Greek government, including all the Visegrád Group countries (Czechia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia). The Cobra officers came to Greece last week as part of the Austrian contingent.
Only a few hours after the confrontation between the Austrians and the Turks, the Turkish police again used tear gas and smoke bombs against the border force near the Kastanies border crossing in an effort to help an estimated 500 migrants to get across.
Greece has reported that they have prevented approximately 53,000 migrants from illegally entering Europe since the latest crisis began.