Migrant influx ‘a social threat’

A burgeoning influx of illegal immigrants could threaten social stability in Greece and must be curbed, the European Commission’s Vice President Jacques Barrot warned from Brussels yesterday, reiterating calls on Ankara to cooperate by cracking down on human traffickers in Turkey. «There is a major threat to the equilibrium of Greek democracy because of the massive influx of immigration,» Barrot told a press conference following an official visit to Greece, where he inspected migrant detention centers on Aegean islands. Barrot, who is also the EU’s commissioner for justice and security, laid the onus for action largely on Ankara. «We cannot simply do nothing. We have to get much firmer control from the Turkish government… Turkey has to help us fight the facilitators and the traffickers who push people to make the risky journeys,» the commissioner said. He also stressed the importance of negotiations with Pakistan and other countries of migrants’ origin so that readmission pacts can be drawn up. Speaking to Skai yesterday, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos echoed the commissioner’s views, noting that Turkish authorities should stop turning a blind eye to smugglers who are bringing thousands of would-be migrants into Greece. Meanwhile Kathimerini has learned that around 200 North African immigrants have taken up residence in the derelict premises of the old Athens appeals court in the city center. The migrants, believed to be «new arrivals,» are thought to have moved in a few weeks ago after the original 600 or so migrants who had been squatting at the site moved out to avoid a police sweep.