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EU border guards start Albania migration watch

EU border guards start Albania migration watch
Members of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency known as FRONTEX and Albanian police officers stand in front of their vehicles before starting a mission on Albania-Greece border, in Tirana, Albania May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Florion Goga   -   Copyright  FLORION GOGA(Reuters)
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By Benet Koleka

TIRANA (Reuters) – The European Union’s Frontex border agency deployed on Tuesday for the first time outside the EU, setting up on Albania’s border with Greece to help fight illegal migration and crime.

Supervised by an Albanian team leader, the Frontex officers are empowered to act as Albanian officers to spot illegal crossings, check them and collect information, and also fight human and drug trafficking and car theft.

“We know the pressure is high, and this route is dynamic and we have to be ready in case the irregular migration flows would increase in summer this year,” Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri told Reuters.

Albania is keen to let EU member states see it is serious about fighting crime so it can boost its chances of starting accession talks with the EU.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU’s Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner, said the overall situation along the Western Balkans route was stable, with low levels of arrivals.

But, he said: “We need to remain vigilant”

(Reporting by Benet Koleka, Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Angus MacSwan)

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