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Immigration – SYRIZA’s new Achilles heel

15 April 2015 / 12:04:53  GRReporter
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The Greek government’s incompetence and inability to tackle the financial crisis and the negotiations with the creditors of Greece became apparent already in the first weeks after the elections. Two months later it is becoming apparent that SYRIZA’s ministers who have been elected to bring a whiff of hope are not able to solve any of the major problems of Greece.

One of them is the immigration issue that has significantly intensified over the past ten days. According to data, more than 1,000 people from South Asia and North Africa arrived in the Greek islands in the period before Easter and yesterday. However setting foot on dry land is not the end of their Odyssey. It is followed by a new boat trip to Piraeus, from where immigrants are free to go wherever they want, since there are no centres to shelter them. They were closed by decision of the new government that, before the elections, supported all protests against the centres, calling them "concentration camps."


Thus, the centre of Athens is again full of immigrants who spend their days and nights on the benches in Omonia and Victoria Squares and in parks. According to Deputy Minister for Migration Tassia Christodoulopoulou, however, there is no problem with immigrants. In her opinion, all of them have a somewhere to stay and as regards those in Omonia Square, she said that "they are refugees, basking in the sun." In statements to SKAI TV, she was clear that all these people were not immigrants but refugees, although they have not yet passed through the legal procedure that determines their status, having investigated each case separately.

Yesterday Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras convened a meeting of the relevant ministers at which they decided that the newly arrived foreigners would be transported to reception centres in mainland Greece, where they would be subsequently divided into two categories, namely immigrants and refugees.

The plan provides for the conversion of old and abandoned buildings into camps to accommodate immigrants. Government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis initially announced that those people who are established to be refugees from Syria and are entitled to receive asylum in Greece would be granted passports to be able to go to other European countries.

A little later, however, probably after realizing that such an action would take Greece out of Schengen and worsen its relations with its European partners, the government made an amendment to the message, which lacked the controversial paragraph.


Deputy Minister for Migration Tassia Christodoulopoulou announced that the government would launch the procedures for the appointment of staff of the centres, without the number of the people who are planned to work at them being clear at present. She said that Athens had already started negotiations with Italy, Spain and Cyprus to make a joint request to the European Commission in relation to dealing with the increased migration flows to Europe and one of their main demands would be the provision of special financial assistance.

At the same time, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos is of the opinion that the European Commission should assist the European Union member states that are affected by immigration flows to guard their borders with the help of the Frontex forces, pointing out that this applies not only to Italy, where thousands of immigrants arrive every day, but also to the eastern Mediterranean borders of Greece and Bulgaria.


Tags: PoliticsSYRIZAGovernmentImmigrationRefugeesReception centres
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