OPINION

Editorial

The towing of a Turkish cargo ship loaded with immigrants to the island of Zakynthos confirmed the fears of the responsible Greek authorities that the wave of illegal migration will surge. The fact that the ship was heading toward Italy does not ease concerns. It rather underscores the need to take radical measures at the EU level in order to contain the growing wave. The humanitarian perspective of the problem need, no doubt, be taken into consideration. The fact that about 1,200 illegal immigrants, including pregnant women and children, were packed inside a small vessel which sailed under extremely unfavorable weather conditions alone reveals the size of the tragedy. Amid their misfortune, fortune helped the boat people to survive. The mobilization of the people of Zakynthos who rushed to help the wretched immigrants was, admittedly, touching. Ordinary people provided them with food, blankets and clothes. The state mechanism also rose to the occasion. The humanitarian aspect of the problem, however, should not provide a pretext for the perpetuation of a policy of half-measures. All these years, the EU has essentially avoided taking a clear position on the issue. Officially, states are against illegal migration but, in reality, they tolerate all immigrants who manage to settle in their territory. This practice has failed to put a brake on the migration wave – rather, quite the contrary. The fact that a considerable number of immigrants manage to settle in the Land of Promise sustains the dream of a new life and encourages an increasing number of Third World citizens to do the same. For this reason, even if border and sea controls are intensified, the wave of migration will continue to swell. The phenomenon can only be tackled if the intensive and strict controls along Europe’s borders are combined with a policy for the reentry of refugees. This means that there will have to be strong pressure on countries which function as transit routes. Neighboring Turkey is one of the most popular transits for people trying to reach Western Europe through Greece and Italy. Greece, which is under the greatest pressure due to its geographical position, has an interest in promoting the adoption of such a policy by the EU. This problem concerns everyone and has to be tackled by everyone.