OPINION

Editorial

The disaster of September 11 and the international mobilization for tighter security measures in view of future terrorist strikes has also thrown the issue of illegal migration into focus. Experience so far demonstrates that the fight against this problem is increasingly reminiscent of Sisyphus’ myth. The establishment of a special police body that monitors our national borders has somewhat limited the influx of illegal migrants along the northern border. Control of the sea routes, however, is still sorely lacking. So far this year the Greek Coast Guard has arrested about 5,000 illegal migrants, but this is but a small fraction of those who made their way into the country. The majority of migrants are Iraqi Kurds, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and, more recently, Afghans. Recent developments have generated a massive exodus of Afghans, some of whom enter Turkey on their way to more prosperous European countries through Greece. Migrant-smuggling is an extremely profitable business, as the cost for smuggling one individual to Europe ranges from $2,000 to $4,000. The coast guard is trying hard, but the task is extremely difficult given the means available. The only solution would be to force Turkey to stop the flow of illegal migrants. Until now, however, Ankara has not been willing to cooperate. Smugglers have often operated with the scandalous tolerance of the Turkish authorities. The Greek government has asked the EU to exert pressure on Ankara to adopt the requisite measures, but in vain. In most cases, Turkish officials refuse to accept and send migrants who arrived on the Greek shore on Turkish vessels back to their countries. Whenever migrants enter Greek territory or are detained by coast guard authorities, Greece is obliged to offer them medical treatment, food and accommodation. Western governments have to abandon their ambiguous stance and take a clear line on the issue. Understandable as the impoverished masses’ desire for a better life may be, migration to the West is no solution. Today, most migrants who make their way to the West manage to settle down. Hope is then vindicated, sustaining more migration. Recent events have forced Western countries to re-examine the problem from the aspect of national security. Greece faces a greater threat due to its geographical position. Illegal migration has been used as a Trojan horse for espionage, raising concerns the country could become a transit point for terrorists.