By James Moules
OBSERVERS have slammed the government of Greece’s plan to construct a floating wall in the sea to stem the flow of migrants into the country.
Last month, the Greek government announced plans to place a 1.7 mile long barrier in sea as a deterrence to migrants crossing the sea from Turkey.
The proposal comes from the new right-wing New Democracy government under Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which took power after defeating left-wing Syriza in last year’s election.
Redaction Politics spoke exclusively to Dimitris Rapidis, Political Analyst and Communications Consultant and adviser to Syriza party, who explained the difference in approach that the two governments have taken to the migrant crisis.
He said: “The refugee and migrant crisis started back in late 2015, it was culminated in 2016 and then eased down in the next couple of years.
“Except for the first period when more than 1 million refugees and migrants crossed the Aegean Sea, the Greek state has managed to deal with this issue efficiently.
“Especially during the Tsipras government, Greece developed a multi-levelled plan to incorporate newcomers to local societies, in education centres and endeavoured to create conditions that would facilitate job hunting.
“Nowadays, the newly-elected ultra-conservative ND government is complaining that refugees are the problem, but in fact the problem is that the government itself has no plan to deal with them, to cope with refugee inflows and build a win-win partnership with our EU partners as well as with Turkey.
“For the Mitsotakis government, refugees are the problem, not the lack of a plan or vision by the government itself.
“Blame-game is something the ND government is good at, but the truth is that such political irresponsibility has a direct effect on social peace and stability in the islands that host the biggest part of the refugees.
“I am not optimistic that the Greek government can provide long-term solutions and take care of this issue.”
Amnesty International has also condemned the Greek government’s approach to migrants, warning that its policy could further endanger the lives of people trying to make the already perilous journey across the sea.
The organisation points out that arrivals by sea in Greece in 2019 almost doubled to 60,000 from the previous year and that International Organization for Migration recorded 66 deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean route.
In a statement on the floating barrier, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Europe, said: “This proposal marks an alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for asylum-seekers and refugees to arrive on its shores, and will lead to more danger for those desperately seeking safety.
“The plan raises serious issues about rescuers’ ability to continue providing life-saving assistance to people attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Lesvos.
“The Government must urgently clarify the operational details and necessary safeguards to ensure that this system does not cost further lives.”
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