On account of the talk about the future of the Amygdaleza (Acharnes, Attica) detaining center for immigrants, a discussion about EU immigration policy, as applied in Greece as well, is rendered both timely and necessary. But let’s take things from the beginning.
What is the cause for immigration? Naturally, people don’t get up one morning and realize they want to leave their country and enter a foreign one, in order to roam the streets “illegally” and cause trouble. The basic reasons for immigration are wars, bombings, hunger, poverty and insecurity – which, in the countries of origin of the biggest immigration waves, are mostly caused by the politics and interventions of the “democratic” West. This extremely inconvenient truth is systematically ignored by the followers of the “what are these tramps doing here?” dogma. And this is obviously because, in the context of “we belong to the West” (famously uttered by Karamanlis the Eldest), our country has been a member of the EU and NATO for decades; and this means that Greece has been contributing or, at least, supporting every one of their activities. EU and NATO means more than just skipping the exchange of currency on your vacation in Rome. It also means the fiasco of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where Greece may not be actually dropping bombs but is certainly supporting American tankers that stop at the Souda municipal base before resuming their humanitarian work.
Let’s not forget, of course, the overdue debt of colonialism – the one systematically not mentioned by, for instance, Marine Le Pen when she speaks of the Africans of Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) flooding France. When French colonialism went where it was unwanted everything was fine.
Therefore, the selectively sensitive West, while significantly contributing to the creation of immigration, is caught poignantly looking at the ceiling when those who have lost everything come knocking on its door. But, even so, the weight is disproportionately allocated. Greece, Spain and Italy are, inevitably due to geographic location, the gateways of Europe for every desperate Asian or African. Specifically, it is from our own country that 90% of illegal immigrants enters the EU.
But, hold on a second. What does the term “illegal immigrant” mean? Illegal is whoever acts outside the legal sphere. And what defines that sphere? A law. Do you agree with every law there is (regardless of whether you comply to them, because you are obliged to do so)? For instance, do you agree with the law regarding parliamentary immunity? Is it possible, in the end, that the convenient word “illegal” is inserted to lift from our shoulders the heavy weight of accepting a cannibalistic policy and the responsibility to assume a position in regards to a problem that we have, to a great extent, tolerated – even created? Between you and me, I very much fear so.
Let’s look at the legal context, then (since we are conveniently hiding behind the word “illegal”): The fundamental treaties of the EU regarding immigration are those of Schengen and Dublin (I and II). The essence of the context defined by these treaties is that, in order for a person to be considered a legal immigrant in an EU country, they should have 100 working stamps per year and give a 1,000 euro deposit. Honestly, how could an immigrant have these, since most Greeks are no longer in a position to do so? And I haven’t even started talking about the networks of legal firms – salesmen of human pain, who lurk like vultures around the relevant Public Services.
And what about illegal entry? But, of course, you can send the annoying visitor back – as long as the country of origin or country of entry is cooperative (for example, Iraq or Turkey). You couldn’t be blinder to the problem except if you were dead. The state of Iraq, merely as a notion, is even more sarcastic than the (thankfully passé, yet unforgettable) “Albanian tourist” joke. Turkey has been negotiating its acceptance by the EU for as long as I can remember, all the while denying the existence of one of the union’s member-states (call me Cyprus). The desperate ones, as instructed by their slavers, slash holes in their inflatable boats in international waters – or national waters of the Dodecanese – where the slavers’ ships throw them at sea; so that the Hellenic Navy or the Hellenic Coast Guard are obliged to save them and transport them to Greek soil (Agathonisi, etc.). And, at this point, if they don’t drown, strangers among strangers, we throw a blanket over the problem. On top of all that, most of them don’t even want to stay in Greece, as they know better than we do how difficult it is to get a job here – there are no jobs. They just want to pass by here, on their way to a richer West. It is geographically inevitable. So simple. And, in addition to all that, we have the deaths in the holds of ships on the Patras-Italy line; people dying next to the engines of trucks, like it happened on the (official number of deaths unknown) Norman Atlantic in the waters off Corfu.
You have to be an extreme misanthrope or completely blind not to detect the all but convenient causes of the situation. The cause is clearly EU immigration policy, which traps desperate people in the human dump called Greece and Greek governments in inadequate management – as long as the Schengen/Dublin context is considered granted and inviolable.
In order to tackle possible valid objections, let me make it absolutely clear that no society can maintain its cohesion when immigration numbers exceed 20% of the total population. This is not supported by some misanthropic conspiracy theory but by the science of Sociology. Realistically speaking, a policy of the type “we are all brothers and sisters” or “the Aegean belongs to its fish” would be bound to failure. What the country needs is some solution that would ensure, on the one hand, the ceasing of successive immigration tsunamis and, on the other hand, that Greece stops being the dumping ground of people.
No matter how inconvenient it sounds, it is (objectively) extremely difficult to achieve the two solutions in question within the Schengen/Dublin context. Therefore, there can be no serious discussion on the essential addressing of the problem (away from secretly petty witticisms of the type “Berlusconi drowned them in the Adriatic” – while having champagne at a bunga bunga party, I would add), without some significant changes being made to the existing treaties or the exclusion of Greece from this given context.
How this can be achieved is beyond the purpose of this article; rather, it is an issue of politics and will. What is important to note here, while watching society turn fascist with a complete lack of shame – projecting onto the convenient “other” problems it refuses to analyze – is this: it is unforgivable bullying and a historical faux pas for a nation made of immigrants and refugees to ponder only on the consequences of a problem; a problem whose causes it is afraid to face. Besides, the degree of civilization of any given society becomes evident by the way it treats the – so-called – “inferior”.