Illegal immigration remains a problem for a number of EU's Mediterranean countries, including Spain, Greece and Malta.
During cooperative Frontex patrol in the Aegean sea, a Latvian helicopter detected a Turkish coast guard vessel close to the islet of Farmakonisi, which not only failed to thwart a smuggling vessel from entering Greek waters but actively assisted it, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported on September 21 2009.
Those images, made by the Latvian aircraft and then submitted to the Greek authorities, are clear evidence that Turkish and Greek naval authorities were not cooperating in the control of smuggling and illegal immigration, the report said.
Frontex, is a European Union agency with headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. The agency was established as a specialised and independent body tasked to coordinate the operational cooperation between European member states in the field of border security.
"We have to mention... at 8.01 [am] a suspicious target detected in Greek territorial waters moving to the east... At 8.02, the suspicious target has been recognised as a Turkish coast guard vessel," Kathimerini said, quoting the official report from the Latvian aircraft.
The pilots have submitted documentation and pictures on September 14 to European authorities, implicating a Turkish coast guard vessel providing escort for a smuggling boat into Greek national waters.
The EC said in a statement last week that the Frontex helicopter had "never violated Turkish air space" but also added that the aircraft "had never received threats from Turkish authorities."
As a consequence of the ongoing trafficking and smuggling problem in the area and the inability for Greek and Turkish authorities to curb the escalating levels of immigration, the French government is said to have submitted a proposal to the EU’s council of justice and interior ministers, calling for Turkey, as well as Libya, to cooperate with EU member states in the drive to help minimise illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, on October 1-2 2009 in Warsaw, the Swedish presidency of the EU and Frontex will hold a workshop/conference on biometric technologies (stationary and mobile) for air, land, and sea border control.