Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has called on the European Union to offer Greece more help with undocumented migrants, including other countries accepting more immigrants to ease the pressure on Greek society.
The public order minister told BBC’s Hardtalk program that undocumented immigrants in Greece were “a huge burden on our society”.
“The pressure that is being applied on Greek society and to the systems that support it are enormous,” he said. “I am saying the EU is not helping us enough.”
He called for more EU funding and an agreement to share the number of migrants being accepted into European societies.
“It should be based on certain factors, for example the area of the country, its GDP and population,” he said. “I don’t believe there is one European citizen that thinks it’s right for a small country with a huge economic crisis, like Greece, to be burdened with 90 percent of the illegal migrants in the whole of Europe.”
Dendias denied that Greece was mistreating migrants in “detention centers,” referring to them instead as “pre-removal centers” and saying that the government was improving facilities.
He defended the controversial Xenios Zeus program, which has seen thousands of migrants stopped and searched since last year, by saying that too many immigrants were crossing Greece’s border with Turkey and that the center of Athens had been “practically occupied” by migrants. He added that the scheme also protected migrants who were being victimized by gangs.
Dendias denied that Xenios Zeus was a waste of resources since only 6 percent of those stopped were arrested as it had helped Greek authorities get a better idea of “who is in the country.” He rejected accusations that migrants had been abused by police and pointed out that more than 80,000 people were stopped but none of them have sued officers for their behavior.
“I welcome any judicial process against the officer involved and he will be punished according to the law,” said Dendias.
The public order minister denied accusations that racist crimes are not being investigated properly. “Impunity does not exist,” he told his interviewer Gavin Estler, adding that a special police unit has been set up to deal with racist crimes.
Dendias admitted to being worried about Golden Dawn, claiming that “its core is neoNazi and very dangerous for democracy.” He attributed Golden Dawn’s rise to the presence of illegal immigrants in Greece cities. “I am not willing to accept that a tenth of the Greek population has become neoNazis,” he said.
Dendias also asserted that public unrest in Greece over the last 12 months has been less pronounced than in previous years. He said that Athens was “the most peaceful capital” in southern Europe.