Calls grow to curb immigration

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday telephoned his counterpart in the Czech Republic, which currently holds the European Union presidency, to press for greater EU support in curbing a seemingly relentless influx of illegal immigrants. According to government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, Karamanlis told his counterpart Jan Fischer that Greece cannot shoulder the burden of protecting the EU’s southeastern border. The PM is due to broach the issue at a summit in Brussels later this week. Meanwhile, Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis called for municipal council members to forge a united front to tackle the capital’s burgeoning migrant population which is being blamed by some for spiraling crime that has led to a spike in far-right sentiment. Kaklamanis said swift consensus on this issue was crucial, «even if we must all compromise on some of our convictions.» The leader of the main opposition PASOK party, George Papandreou, seemed less compromising in an article published in Sunday’s Kathimerini, in which he outlines an eight-point plan for «zero illegal immigration.» Papandreou condemns the government for having a «nonexistent policy» for immigration which has marginalized second generation migrants and failed to make a distinction between economic migrants and refugees. Responding to criticism from other opposition parties, describing the military facilities slated for use as migrant reception centers as «concentration camps,» Antonaros said the ruling conservatives were being treated unfairly. «Two-and-a-half years ago we were being condemned by international bodies for having too few reception centers,» he said. Meanwhile, the coast guard on Lesvos, where a reception center is full to bursting, detained a total of 126 illegal immigrants this weekend. The migrants were intercepted in four boats that had been heading toward the island from neighboring Turkey.