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Politics

SYRIZA EU Lawmaker Says EU Turning Greece into Refugee Prison

February 23, 2023

While Greece’s New Democracy government has denied repeated reports of pushing back refugees and migrants, a member of the European Parliament from the major rival SYRIZA said the European Union has made the bloc a jail for them.

Kostas Arvanitis, in an opinion piece for EUObserver, said, “the EU has stepped back from its core values of human dignity, human rights, and the rule of law, which have been the building blocks of the political edifice” of the bloc.

He said the EU has turned toward a policy of Fortress Europe with fences, complaining that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government has gone along with that by building and planning the extension of a border wall along the Evros River.

That came as SYRIZA is ramping up criticism during a campaign ahead of spring elections in which the two dominant parties will face off again after the Conservatives routed the Leftists in July 2019 snap elections.

Arvanitis said the specter of a Berlin Wall is now appearing with anti-refugee fences, including in other countries such as Bulgaria, and as Greece is frantically trying to keep out asylum seekers.

They are coming from Turkey, where they fled war, strife, and economic hardship in their homelands. Human traffickers are allowed to keep sending them largely to Greece, in violation of a 2016 swap deal with the EU.

Arvanitis said that Greece isn’t alone in trying to keep out refugees and migrants coming from Syria, Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa, and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh. He noted that Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Malta, Estonia, and Austria also want more deterrence and fences.

 

“The pride and joy of Greek Commissioner Margaritas Schinas’ ‘European Way of Life’ is made up of both walls and dead people in our seas – a genocide of wretched souls – as shipwrecks with victims of all ages are happening near-constantly, leaving behind an unknown number of dead or missing persons,” said Arvanitis.

He noted that Jonas Grimhenden, the new head of the EU border agency Frontex, said it should stop operating in Greece as allegations mount about refugee pushbacks that the government keeps denying. Those allegations are also coming from human rights groups, activists, and major media such as The New York Times. Arvanitis said, “The end of this road is known: finally turning Greece into the prison of Europe, instead of demanding equal relocation to all member states.”

 

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