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Migration and Struggle in Greece

Greek government’s immigration plans – the summer of oppression gears up – military dungeons across the Aegean

Posted by clandestina on 12 June 2009

sources

Four days after the European elections that saw far right parties rising in prominence across Europe, the Greek government announced measures aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Greek daily “Ta Nea” reports(translation from Greek):

Felony offenses for slavers and the creation of financial immigrant reception centers for 12 months are two of the immediate measures announced by the government to address the problem of illegal immigration. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos pointed out the european dimension of the issue, saying that no country can face the problem on it’s own. He also said that the Greek prime minister will broach the issue at the upcoming EU Summit, next week, and press for readmission treaties to be signed with third countries, as well as for signatories, like Turkey, to accede to treaties.In a previous article, “Ta Nea” quoted sources within the government and provided more details about the plan (translation from Greek):

The Defence Ministry sent a list of 11 military camps that could be used as concentration facilities for illegal immigrants arrested by police. The camps have been decomissioned but their facilities are in particularly good condition, the army department of infrastructure assured the police. Sources within the Interior Ministry told “Ta Nea” that the camps available are strewn across various parts of Greece. Greek police didn’t insist in creating just one big camp in Attica, fearing that it could be easily accessible to anti-statists attempting to cause unrest.

The government’s proposals attracted strong opposition criticism. George Papandreou, the leader of Socialist PASOK, described the measures as “sketchy and inadequate” and proposed instead an eight-point plan foreseeing the boosting of border controls and a drive to upgrade parts of the capital that have turned into ghettos for migrants. The Communist Party accused the government of seeking to imprison migrants in “concentration camps.”

The government is accused by the opposition of pandering to the nationalist LA.O.S. party, which doubled it’s seats in the European Parliament, after ethnic tensions flared in recent months in downtown Athens. The center-right Greek government of Kostas Karamanlis, besieged by scandals and the dire condition of the Greek economy, came second at the European elections behind the socialists, losing for the first time in 15 years.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday chaired an inner cabinet meeting devoted to illegal immigration and the positions that Greece will adopt at the upcoming European Union summit. Reporting on the results of the meeting, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that illegal migration was the issue expected to dominate the next meeting of the European Council.

According to Pavlopoulos, the main focus at the moment was to convert the EU’s FRONTEX organisation into a European coast guard and to promote re-entry agreements. He underlined that each country separately would be unable to deal with the problem and that this required a common EU effort and policy.

The minister pointed out that the issue of migration had also been discussed by EU interior ministers on the Thursday before the elections, adding that Greece, along with other countries, had since 2005 been at the forefront of efforts for a common European policy on migration, efforts that had led to the European pact for immigration and asylum.

He again called on the EU to exert pressure on third countries to sign re-entry agreements for illegal migrants, stressing that Turkey must finally observe Community rules.

Referring to the problems caused by immigrants but also drug addicts in the centre of Athens, Pavlopoulos said the transfer of the headquarters of the drug rehabilitation agency OKANA to a new location decided by the health ministry would be speeded up, and announced plans to build a mosque in the city and a Moslem cemetery at Schisto. A coordinating committee will be set up in order to ensure the immediate implementation of the measures, he added.

Deputy interior minister for public order issues, Christos Markoyiannakis, said the government intended to introduce harsher penalties for immigrant smugglers, who would henceforth be charged with criminal offences rather than misdemeanours. In addition, the government intends to build organised centres where any illegal immigrants that are apprehended will be able to stay for up to 12 months.

Pavlopoulos said a sharp increase in illegal immigration had been worsened because Turkey, with which Greece shares a border, was not adequately enforcing an agreement to take back migrants facing deportation from Greece.

In 2008, Greek authorities arrested more than 146,000 illegal immigrants, a 30 percent increase from the previous year and a 54 percent jump from 2006, according to figures from the Interior Ministry.

The measures announced Thursday follow the surge in support for a rightist party in European Parliament elections last Sunday, as well a violence protest on May 22 by Muslim immigrants in central Athens, protesting the alleged defacement of a Quran by a Greek policeman.

Earlier this week, police clashed with rival groups of demonstrators near the center of the capital, when local residents tried to block mostly Asian immigrants from entering a public playground.

One Response to “Greek government’s immigration plans – the summer of oppression gears up – military dungeons across the Aegean”

  1. […] Greek government’s immigration plans – the summer of oppression gears up – militar… […]

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