A problem that can’t be ignored

By Angelos Stangos

There is no need to get into detail regarding the quality of reactions provoked on the Internet by stories and especially opinions about the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and the threat it constitutes to democracy.

Basically, the reactions-comments can be separated into two general categories: those written in bad faith that attack democracy and exude a fascist logic, and those that express concern and despair with regard to illegal migration and crime, though many of the latter are implicitly inspired by racism and do not distance themselves from abhorrent racist violence.

The need to condemn racism and racist violence is without question. No state with democratic roots and structures should tolerate racism and the use of racially motivated violence as a policy tool. It is not the purpose of this column to explore whether racism is foreign to Greek society or if many Greeks express themselves and act in a racist manner. That is more suitable a subject for a meeting of sociologists.

However, the truth is that Greece does face a very big problem with illegal immigration and crime, whether it is committed by foreigners or locals. The huge problem of illegal immigration cannot be overlooked nor can it be tolerated, on the one hand because the country is bending under its weight and on the other because it has contributed to the significant degradation of the quality of life in many urban centers. Nor can we ignore the data, which show that a large part of crime can be attributed to foreign gangsand that at many illegal Roma camps, be they local or from other Balkan countries, breaking the law is part of life.

These problems and the magnitude to which they have grown obviously affect the stance of the people. The state alone has the obligation to deal with these problems within the framework of the law, but this is not something that can be done at the push of a button, not where we are now. The battle has to be constant and, thankfully, it looks like it is starting to pay off. Over the past few months authorities appear to have become more responsive to these problems, judging by the news. On the other hand, they also need political backing, not just from the government, but also from other democratic parties.

In this sense, it is high time that the parties of the left, and much of the media as well, realized that democracy does not mean throwing the law out of the window, and that while human rights must be respected, the state also has the fundamental duty to safeguard its citizens by taking steps against illegal migration and crime.