OPINION

Making up for lost ground

The large-scale roundup of illegal immigrants in central Athens, jarringly named ?Xenios Zeus,? gives rise to two questions: Firstly, whether there is in fact a well worked-out plan to restore the rule of law in the Greek capital or whether this was just another one-off publicity stunt. And, secondly, whether the visible results seen over the past few days could lead Athens to a swift recovery.

Sure, the overwhelming majority of people approve of any serious effort to restore the impression that the law is being adhered to. The reaction to the campaign that was sparked by humanitarian concerns however risks deflecting us from what is really at stake here, which is public safety and the rule of law.

True to form, certain groups have reacted to the campaign without citing any real evidence to support their position that human rights are being violated, save a good dose of good old hypocritical sentimentalism. They therefore strengthen the impression that the prevalence of blanket rejectionism in Greece, which is cultivated by such small dysfunctional groups, is out of sync with international norms. Ignorance of what happens abroad and indifference toward international views are part of an endemic condition.

Meanwhile, Athens is struggling to survive. The large majority of its residents and professionals are suffering because of the city?s ongoing steep decay. The spirit of Athens has been injected with a lethal mix of psychological insecurity and economic despair. The decline of the Greek capital over the past couple of years has been so evident as to make you wonder how it can be tolerated.

That?s not to say that undocumented immigrants are to blame for the decline. However, the same cannot be said about government policy concerning these people. The recent operation, which was launched by Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, aims to make up for the lost ground.

There is nothing grandiose, extreme or outrageous about Operation Xenios Zeus. It is a decision by a European state to enforce the law.

We should finally learn to see things for what they are. No one wants to hurt all these poor, desperate people who were conned into believing that they would be able to find a job and travel to other parts of Europe. At the same time, Greece must first of all assert the right of its capital?s residents to enjoy the basic conditions demanded by a society of reasonable, purposeful people.