“The country has been saddled not only with unmanageable debts, austerity budgets, and German condescension but also with the frontline burdens of a broken European Union asylum and migration regime that combines high ideals with deep denial”.
The description above is given by the New Yorker and summarizes perfectly the situation in Greece near the end of 2012. The country is against not only a severe financial crisis but a humanitarian crisis as well, as the problem of illegal immigration has given rise to fascism and violence, phenomena relatively unknown to the Greek society until recently.
It seems that at least eight out of ten illegal migrants to the European Union enter through Greece, usually by crossing the Evros River from Turkey. The vast majority of these migrants come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria whereas many are the ones that--in the past-- used to come from Balkan countries like Albania, Bulgaria and Romania . However, it is the ones that originate from the East that view Greece as the “gate to Europe” and get somehow stuck afterwards. The reason? According to the New Yorker and not only, Dublin II.
Dublin II was signed by the member-states of the EU during a period of fiscal, monetary and economic optimism in 2003.
The main principles of Dublin II specifically stated that:
“… only one Member State is responsible for examining an asylum application. The objective is to avoid asylum seekers from being sent from one country to another, and also to prevent abuse of the system by the submission of several applications for asylum by one person”.
Nonetheless, with a contemplation upon this treaty one can see that not all member-states are “affected” by Dublin II the same. For instance, Germany, France, Sweden and other Northern countries that are probably more ideal destinations for illegal migrants than Greece in terms of economy seem protected by the treaty. On the other hand, Greece, located in the crossroads between East and West is not. Add the administrative, welfare, and policing burdens along with the recession to this fact and you can share what most Greeks feel right now, suffocation.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has agreed that the treaty must be altered:
Dublin II must change. We must also cooperate with other countries in Southern Europe and I’ve already made contacts with the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus, so that with the help of the EU funding we can create a shield. The issue of immigration touches upon the concept of democracy. We must apply the laws, and also create the mood to change the way we have dealt with this issue so far. For example, we must define the responsibilities of those who illegally rent their homes to illegal immigrants and the relevant authorities that pretend not to see the problem.
And, indeed, this should be the case. Golden Dawn, the far-extremist (or pro-Nazi for many) party that was nearly non existent in previous elections is now third political power in Greece, with 10.5 percent approval. Extremism and violence thrive in debt-ridden and desperate countries and the European Union should be cautious.