Refugee Deal: Another Fine Mess Tsipras Has Gotten Greece Into

Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gestures as he leads the first cabinet meeting of his new government in Athens, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Tsipras, at 41 Greece's youngest prime minister in about 150 years, won re-election in the early election despite a rebellion in his party after his remarkable policy U-turn in the summer, when he broke key promises to fight bailout-linked austerity and instead signed a new bailout with even more tax hikes and income cuts. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Letter from Athens



On Feb. 17, 2015, weeks after taking power on the back of anti-austerity pledges that were broken before the seats were warm in Parliament and Maximos Mansion, the Radical Left SYRIZA’s Alternative Minister for Citizens’ Protection Yiannis Panousis visited the Amygdaleza detention facility after the suicide of a Pakistani national and stated: “I am here to express my embarrassment. We are done with detention centers.”

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at least kept one promise: to close the detention centers he said were being used as human warehouses for illegal immigrants, and also for refugees fleeing war and seeking asylum in Greece, which up to that point was being granted at the rate of about one in every 10,000, a national embarrassment.

By November, Panousis was out of Tsipras’ favor and out of his ministerial position after SYRIZA bamboozled voters a second time and won snap elections again in September, and as Panousis was claiming he had received death threats from SYRIZA types who wanted him to go easy on terrorists, faves for the Looney Leftists.

Tsipras, who essentially said the roundup of migrants and refugees by the former rulers of the Capitalist New Democracy under then-Premier Antonis Samaras was criminal, now has come full circle, authorizing the opening of new detention centers.

That’s because Greece – as was the European Union – was blackmailed into a migrant-refugee swap by Turkey, which will leave Greece home to as many as 50,000 and with thousands more pouring in beginning the day the agreement went into effect in which they were supposed to be returned to Turkey.

The United Nations’ refugee arm, UNHCR, and a many human rights groups had complained the New Democracy detention centers were pretty much prisons to keep the migrants and refugees locked up in terrible conditions until they could be deported.

Tsipras now will have to find a euphemism for detention center the same way he insisted on calling Greece’s Draconian rulers and lenders, the then-Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) the “Institutions.”

That was just silly window dressing to cover up nothing and as the European Stability Mechanism jumped onto the lending bandwagon and the creditors then became the Quartet.

Tsipras and SYRIZA are all about hiding their failures and trying to spin them into something palatable the majority of gullible voters can swallow and usually they do because, as H.L. Mencken correctly pointed out about Americans, and de facto all voters, “No one ever went broken underestimating the intelligence of the … public.” Forgetting history, etc. etc.


Under the deal, Turkey will get six billion euros, the fast lane into EU entry and visa-less travel for its citizens. Greece will get a continued invasion of migrants and refugees who didn’t get the memo they’re not welcome and are running away from ISIS and war and aren’t about to be deterred by paper contracts signed in Brussels.

The program, under which illegal immigrants entering Greece and the EU as of March 20 were supposed to be returned to Turkey – with the EU then agreeing to take in an equal number of Syrian refugees from Turkey seeking asylum in the EU – began to unravel almost as soon as it was signed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who can smell weakness like the ferret he is, the next day sent ships off Greek islands to look for energy. And as Turkish fighter jets had violated Greek air space some 155 times in the month leading up to the signing of the deal in Brussels where Tsipras, head of the country most affected, sat glumly on his hands.

The deal did nothing to help the more than 10,000 refugees in the northern Greek town of Idomeni who sat in disbelief in mud and squalor and disease – worse than the detention centers Tsipras closed as “inhumane” – but did almost nothing to help them.

Somebody buy this guy a fiddle so he can learn to play it while Greece burns instead of strumming his lips and sounding like Ralph Kramden going “Hummana Hummana.” Tsipras and his Syrizans couldn’t run a hot dog stand outside Yankee Stadium so running a country is pretty much out of their minor league.

Not only was Tsipras sold a bill of goods (keep him away from the Home Shopping Network or Greece will find itself with a million abdomenizers and bottles of snake oil) but he’s been abandoned by human rights groups.

The UNCHR walked away fast, distancing itself from a deal so rotten it smells worse than the memorandum Tsipras signed with the Quartet.

“Under the new provisions, these so-called hotspots have now become detention centers,” said the UNHCR’s Melissa Fleming, announcing suspension of its help on Greek islands overrun by refugees.

In March of 2015, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks complained about the practice of detaining migrants “for deportation purposes” even in cases when they shouldn’t be returned, especially to war-torn countries.

Or to countries like Turkey which Greece has declared has such an abysmal human rights record they won’t be safe there, and most will just jump on the next overcrowded rubber dinghy and come back to find it’s not only the detention centers that are an embarrassment, but Greece’s Prime Minister.