Friday

21st Jan 2022

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Greece blasts EU 'hypocrisy' for opposing Turkey wall plans

Athens on Sunday has slammed the "hypocrisy" of unspecified EU member states criticising its plans to erect a wall on the border with Turkey, while at the same time denouncing its incapacity to stem irregular migration. Meanwhile, neighbouring Bulgaria claims its own Turkish frontier is "safer" than the Greek one.

Greece to build wall on EU-Turkey border

The Greek government plans to build a wall along its 206-km-long land border with Turkey to help keep out unwanted migrants on the model of the US border with Mexico.

Greece struggling to manage asylum seekers

Nearly 30,000 irregular border crossings were detected on Europe’s external borders in the last three months of 2011, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Greece opens first migrant detention centre

Greece has set up its first detention centre for undocumented migrants - composed of box homes surrounded by high wire - meant to house 1,200 people.

News in Brief

  1. 'No embargo' on meetings with Putin, EU says
  2. Austria to fine unvaccinated people €3,600
  3. MEP: Airlines should start paying for CO2 sooner
  4. Twitter forced to disclose what it does to tackle hate speech
  5. EU watchdog calls for ban on political microtargeting
  6. MEPs adopt position on Digital Service Act
  7. Blinken delivers stark warning to Russia in Berlin
  8. Hungary's Orbán to discuss nuclear project with Putin

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Latest News

  1. Lawyers threaten action over new EU gas and nuclear rules
  2. MEPs urge inclusion of abortion rights in EU charter
  3. EU orders Poland to pay €70m in fines
  4. Dutch mayors protest strict lockdown measures
  5. Macron promises strong EU borders
  6. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  7. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  8. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us