The EU imposes an open border policy on Greece

Ω Anastasios Lavrentzos
The EU imposes an open border policy on Greece, Anastasios Lavrentzos

In late October, the Commission and EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ilva Johansson called for an extraordinary FRONTEX board to be convened to "discuss allegated  push-back incidents in Greece and fundamental rights protection". Despite the explanations given and the assurance from the Greek side that no push-backs are taking place, Ms. Johansson returned, asking for the relevant complaints "to be adequately investigated, so that we know exactly what happened".

The above initiatives, although seemingly isolated, have the obvious aim of putting pressure on Greece not to go beyond the framework of EU immigration policy. A policy that was reflected in the December 2018 UN Summit in Marrakesh, when it was triumphantly accepted by most EU countries, with Germany leading the way in the new Global Compact on Migration.

It is essentially an "open border" policy which uses as its vehicle the assumption that the migratory flows arriving in Europe are primarily refugees. Therefore, under international law, no state can stop them. In practice, however, this obligation falls only on the peripheral states with external borders. Because the states of the European core have, under the Dublin Treaty, the right to consider asylum only when they so wish. In any other case, they have the right to return to the country of first entry the asylum seekers or the illegal migrants they discover in their territory.

Few refugees, many illegal migrants

But how many refugees are in the flows of migrants arriving in Europe and especially in Greece? First of all, one should be skeptical about the refugee nature of these flows and only the simple fact that after 2015, illegal migrants began to arrive in Greece en masse, coming from dozens of different countries in Asia and Africa. Countries where for the most part there is no war. And these people as a whole come from Turkey, where there is also no war.

But even for Europe, Turkey is considered a safe country, as shown by the size of European investment directed at it. So it is at least contradictory for the EU to ask Greece to keep its eastern borders open, citing "humanitarian reasons".

However, there are also official statistics that show that the illegal immigration flows that arrive in Greece are not mostly refugees. This is shown by the percentage of positive responses given primarily to asylum applications. This percentage in Greece in 2020 decreased to about 40% as a result of the change of government. The European average is at even lower levels, since according to Eurostat in 2019 the percentage of positive responses to asylum applications was 38%.

The age profile

The fact that those coming to Europe from Asia and Africa do not have such a refugee profile is evident from another fact. According to official Eurostat data, in 2019 males were about 62% of those who applied for asylum for the first time. Of these, if one excludes children, in whom things are somewhat divided, one will find that among those aged 14-17, males made up 68%. Respectively, in the "conscription" age of 18-34 years, men were 69%.

It follows from all this that of the migrants arriving in Europe, those with a refugee profile are a minority. They can also make a small contribution to Europe's demographic problem, as they are not gender-balanced populations. That is, as a rule, we do not have families or couples, but young men, who in fact seek to immigrate illegally to Europe, pretending to be "refugees". In other words, they are doing what an entire trafficking system has taught them, which has been reaped and fed by the new "big business" of illegal immigration.

It is therefore largely a mass phenomenon of illegal immigration, which abuses the Geneva Convention on Refugees of 1951. A Convention which, it should be noted, Turkey has not ratified. But when the Geneva Convention was made, its main focus was on the management of individual cases and the protection of persons persecuted by free or dictatorial regimes. It did not have in mind an industry of illegal migrants flowing from Guinea, Congo and Somalia to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Humanism on the back of others

And of course it is no coincidence that as far as Greece is concerned, these people come to us from Turkey, where of course they do not go on foot. They arrive there by air, taking advantage of the very cheap tickets provided to them. So instead of putting pressure on Turkey, which is blackmailing Europe with immigration, the EU is blaming Greece. And the EU does not ask Greece to open its borders for "humanitarian" reasons. In fact, it is asking for this in the midst of a health quarantine due to a coronavirus and in the aftermath of the terrorist acts in Paris and Vienna that took place at the end of October.

But at the same time that the EU is demanding that Greece keep its eastern borders open, it is taking steps to seal its northern borders. Because in practice it does so, having deployed FRONTEX forces on Albanian and North Macedonian territory as early as May 2019. The official excuse is that these forces were deployed to control cross-border crime, but in practice their purpose is to deter any outflows of migrants to Central Europe. In July 2020, a second "defense line" was created with the installation of FRONTEX units in Montenegro.

In any case, if the EU cares so much about human rights, it can only set up European consulates in Turkey, where asylum seekers can come with their papers. In this way they will not be in danger, crossing the sea with inflatable dinghies, nor will they suffer in camps on the Greek islands. So of course NGOs and slave traders may no longer have a "business object", but the profit from a purely humanitarian point of view will be great.

There, at the European consulates to be set up on Turkish soil, the European Asylum Service will judge whether applicants for international protection will be able to obtain asylum. And those of them who will receive a positive answer, will be able to fly to any country in Europe they wish. Not like now, when they are trapped in Greece, since even those who receive official asylum can not go to another European country. This is what the inconsistency of the EU looks like once again, which, by giving some money to Greece, takes care to keep the problem outside its door.

The obligation of the government

The Greek government has a constitutional obligation to ensure the well-being and security of Greek citizens. In this respect, Greece has already lifted a much greater burden on immigration than it deserves. Those who have their own and fully respected sensibilities, it would be good to show them in practice and not through others.

Because the EU gives us some money, it cannot turn Greece into a closed reception anteroom for the illegal migratory flows that arrive in Europe. Nor can Greek society accept the forced settlement imposed on it by Turkey with European funding.The bottom line is that Greeks also have rights and among them, they have the right to decide what kind of country their children will live in, tomorrow.

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