Greek police arrested 1,130 unregistered migrants in Athens over the weekend during operation "Xenios Zeus". The operation to combat illegal immigration and foreign crime will continue daily with the aim of repatriating illegals.
Public Order and Citizens' Protection minister Nikos Dendias told reporters "today is a good day for Greek Police, regarding both the smooth development of the major 'Xenios Zeus' operation and the success in solving the hideous crime on Paros".
Greek authorities have begun a concerted effort to tackle the issue of undocumented migrants which resonated with voters in the run up to the elections. Speaking of conditions in Athens Dendias said "entire areas of Athens have been turned into a no-man's land, rife with drug trafficking, prostitution, smuggling, theft, serious injuries, murders, and all other types of delinquent behavior." According to To Vimathe arrested migrants included many involved in crimes including drug trafficking and theft.
Dendias went on to add "There are no racial criteria, we do not care about the color, nationality or religion of the illegal immigrants. Our only criterion is the observance of legality with absolute respect to the human rights."
Police spokesman Christos Manouras said the operation was necessitated for Greece's survival. Naharnet reported Manouras said "We must send the message that Greece cannot afford work and hospitality to would-be immigrants."
The operation will continue in Athens on Monday with police targeting drug users and prostitutes, whilst officers from the economic police will check businesses to ensure they are not employing illegal immigrants. There will also be a clampdown on migrants selling fake goods, a matter of concern to Greek businesses that operate legally but face illegal vendors undercutting them on their doorsteps. According to a report in Balkan Analysis, citing figures for 2010, "turnover of the illegal trade which takes place by illegal immigrants is estimated at between 7-10 billion euros, and results in a loss of about 2 billion euros in state income."
The launch of operation "Xenios Zeus" follows last weeks report that Greece is bolstering its border defenses with Turkey with the addition of 1,800 border guards, in an effort to curb illegal entries.
Greece's Communist Party (KKE) and coalition of the radical-left (SYRIZA) have both condemned operation "Xenios Zeus", saying it offends human rights. Dendias responded to their complaints by reminding them of the Greek victims of foreign crime, calling it "an insult to our culture is to remember the 'human rights' when it comes to illegal immigrants, but do not remember the right to life dozens of victims died a tragic death, even for a few euros".