Saturday

30th Jul 2016

Greece to complete anti-migrant wall 'very shortly'

  • A Detention centre in Greece - Athens has been criticised for its poor treatment of asylum seekers (Photo: Ikolas Kominis - Studio Kominis)

Greece has said it will quickly finish construction of a controversial wall designed to keep out migrants, claiming that the thousands of people coming into the country each year threaten "social peace."

"The construction will begin very shortly and will also be completely very shortly," the country's citizen protection minister Micalis Chrisochoidis said during a visit to Brussels on Monday (2 April).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The three-metre-high barrier is to block a 12.5km-long strip of land between Turkey and Greece. The rest of the border between the two countries is formed by the Evros river.

Athens says almost 130,000 immigrants entered Greece via the land crossing last year.

According to Chrisochoidis, the wall is a "temporary solution" that has "substantive and symbolic importance."

He painted a picture of society almost at breaking point due to the thousands of migrants who make their way from, traditionally, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan but now, since the Arab Spring, also Morocco, Algeria and Syria.

"The very essence of social peace is being questioned by this terrible humanitarian crisis. Greece is no longer ready to accept this time bomb in the foundation of its society," the minister added.

He noted that the country - which is also mired in a severe economic crisis - has just agreed a public health programme to check migrants for infectious diseases.

He said the barrier will be funded by national money, after the European Commission recently dismissed the whole project as "pointless."

Standing alongside the Greek minister, Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU commissioner in charge of home affairs, said: "We have not considered that as a priority. It's a national project."

She drew attention to Athens' poor treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, adding: "We need more reception centres. We need to address the humanitarian situation where people who are applying for asylum can get decent treatment."

For his part, Chrisochoidis promised that Greece would firm up its returns policy and pointed to the upcoming opening of its first border detention centre.

He indicated that Greece - which has come under fire from fellow EU countries not just for shoddy treatment of asylum seekers but also for letting too many people slip into the Union - expects more money to deal with the situation after 2014, when a new multi-annual European budget begins.

The Greek problem also has a foreign policy dimension.

Some of the country's refugee issues would be helped if neighbouring Turkey signed a readmission agreement - involving taking back migrants - with the EU.

But Turkey has let the readmission pact - technically-speaking, ready to be signed for the past two years - gather dust as it waits for the EU to first open visa liberalisation talks.

"Of course there is a link," Malmstrom, said. "I hope that we will be able to launch a visa dialogue with Turkey very soon," she added.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  2. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen: I Condemn All Threats to Turkey's Democracy
  3. GoogleHelping Emergency Services Find You When You Need It Most
  4. Counter BalanceWhat's New in the Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  6. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  7. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  8. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  11. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  12. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children

Latest News

  1. Terrorism and migration top EU public's concern
  2. Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule
  3. Car lobby complained about emissions tampering by others
  4. Critical IMF report heralds new Greek bailout battle
  5. EU free movement must be curbed, UK says
  6. EU political pressure alone cannot save the rule of law
  7. Merkel: Attacks won't change refugee policy
  8. EU-Turkey relations after the coup