Greece-Turkey: Without a policy, the wall achieves nothing
10 January 2011
According to To Ethnos, the ‘wall’ that Greece plans to build to curb the flow of migrants from across its border with Turkey is a desperate measure that is bound to fail. Only a real international initiative can hope to offer a genuine solution.
Our country should not be satisfied with the last two decades of immigration policy, which have resulted in a situation that is both alarming and overwhelming. Europe is the destination for a major wave of immigration prompted by economic, social and political causes, and if we are to successfully address this problem, we will have to examine these causes in the countries where they prevail. Only then will we be able to develop policies that can appropriately address this issue. This is a project that is clearly beyond the means of a single nation, but should be the responsibility of both Europe and the United Nations.
An astonishing irrelevance
Greece cannot be used as a ‘wall’ and as the sole destination country in Europe simply because it is located on the main access route for migrants. No progress will be possible without a serious European migration policy, and as this is unfortunately lacking, we will have to focus all our efforts on the drive to develop such a policy.
The first priority should be the reform of the Dublin II regulation, which blocks refugees at their point of entry into the EU, thus transforming a transit country into a final destination for thousands of migrants. Both Greece and Europe will have to take action to develop policies to deter migrants and at the same time policies that ensure humane conditions for those that do arrive in Europe.
The truth is that the Evros ‘wall’ is an astonishing irrelevance. No barrier in history has successfully impeded the flow of migration. And the decision to build a ‘wall’ is all the more surprising in that it represents a phobic and inward-looking response in a world where policies are supposed to be open and transparent. Finally, there are serious doubts about the efficiency of this measure which does nothing to tackle the root of the problem.
Traffickers might demand higher rates from asylum seekers
If the deterrent effect of a barrier on the border was supported by a genuine migration policy with revised conditions for the granting of asylum and funding for reception centres, it might even be a positive development. But there is no guarantee that such measures will be established. As it stands, the ‘wall’ will simply serve to present a ‘tough’ line to the media, and may even enable human traffickers to demand higher rates from asylum seekers.
In a wider context, Europe will have to develop a common immigration policy to ensure that Greece is not the only destination for migrants and to address the root of the problem. And this can only be achieved through serious work and a commitment to an ongoing effort.