OPINION

A fence as a defense?

A very interesting debate has arisen from the issue of whether or not to build a fence along a section of the border between Greece and Turkey. One thing the debate has taught us is that Greek borders are practically defenseless, as the military, invoking a relevant law, has passed border guard duties off to the police and makes no contribution. Every year Greece spends billions of euros and writes up hundreds of decisions on the country?s security and we discover after all that our borders are wide open, rendering illegal immigration into Greece a matter of national security – and national survival.

I know that there are many who disagree with this position and like to criticize others who don?t pussyfoot around the issue. These people have already emerged at the head of groups which believe that Greece ought to be allowed to become a giant transit terminal for every wronged or hapless person looking for a safe haven. By their reasoning it would be much easier to simply introduce direct flights from Pakistan and Algeria to Athens for those who want to enter the country without the necessary legal documents. We are all moved and shocked by the images we see of hungry people, including children, trying to escape poverty and war. But, as tough as it may sound, we also need to think about the best interests of this country and its citizens. We are not part of some humanity contest. However we are facing tough dilemmas that require equally tough solutions.

You may say that nothing about this situation is the Greek state?s fault. But of course it is. First of all, it never made sure that our borders are secure. Secondly, it has allowed organized crime rings from other countries to operate with a free rein in cities like Athens and Patra. And thirdly, in the general climate of prevalent lawlessness, it has allowed the criminal element that inevitably trickles in among the general population of immigrants to provocatively break every law in this country. These elements together have rendered Greece an oasis for those who know that they will pass without hindrance as well as those who know that everything is allowed here.

You may also argue that a fence is not the solution. Of course it isn?t. On the other hand, it will make life that much harder for human traffickers, who will instead be forced to take the more challenging – and better-guarded – routes via the Evros Delta and the Aegean islands. A fence will also send a loud and clear message to Turkey, which obviously has no interest in dealing with the problem from its end, and prompt a certain section of the Turkish status quo to rethink its indifference regarding this issue.