Saturday, January 30, 2016

Greece is Europe's Refugee Filter Trap.


Yesterday afternoon I completed my one-month college teaching gig by grading the budding mystery novels my dozen students had revised and re-revised over the past three weeks.  Who would have guessed werewolves were still so popular?  Now it’s time for me to get off campus before they get to see their grades. :) No, not the werewolves.

It’s been a hectic four weeks—teaching two-and-a-half hours virtually every weekday, spending eight hours each day critiquing the new writing, and additional hours preparing for the next day’s lecture.  Oh, yes, and then there’s that little matter of Andreas Kaldis novel #8 due February 1st. My, Lord, that’s MONDAY!  Not to mention a Sunshine Noir short story promised to some folks who hang around this site.

But, that will all work out, I’m sure.

I’d like to say I feel at peace with the world…I certainly feel I’m blessed to have spent time laboring among the world’s best hope for Peace—Teachers, God bless them.  But having just jumped back into the midst of world news, my disposition on the state of our planet has not improved.

Forget about the US Presidential races, that’s a plague on everyone’s house courtesy of our Media-Politico Complex.  May they reap what they sow, though sadly we voters who bow to the charlatans’ siren songs will pay the greatest prices. 

Still, that’s not what’s fired me up. It’s been that way for way too many election cycles to get me riled up again.

What has me fuming is the holier than though attitude of the European Union on a subject that’s only gotten worse since I last wrote about it.

Now anyone who knows me realizes I am hardly a fan of how Greece’s governments (that’s plural) have handled things over the last you-pick-the-number-of years, but what the EU is doing to make Greece the scapegoat for the EU’s utterly dysfunctional, unrealistic immigration processes is unconscionable.

Figures for first 22 days of 2016

What the EU faces today has been anticipated for decades, but most member states’ methods of preparing for this inevitable migration can be summed up in a single word: NIMBY. Not in my back yard—unless of course they needed laborers to work in their yards.

Sound familiar? Yes, the US has it’s own potboiler of a situation, but try as they might, states of the US cannot set their own immigration policies.

EU member-states apparently can, or at least are acting as if they can.  But rather than facing up to the consequences of not planning for the long predicted stream of refugees rushing into Europe for safety and economic opportunity, the EU choses to cast its fickle finger of blame on its most financially strapped, politically vulnerable member, Greece.  And just to make it suffer a lot more, the EU threatens to deny Greece’s tourist dependent economy the benefit of passport free travel between Greece and its Schengen member states.

A country of eleven million in the midst of a worsening Great Depression is expected to carry the load of processing and protecting an annual flow of immigrants equal to seven-percent of its nation’s population.  And it’s not as if the faucet’s in Greece, but rather you’ll find it in the land of its historic enemy, Turkey, where human traffickers are making billions each year off the dreams of those seeking safety in Europe.

Still the EU finds it easier to simply blame Greece for not turning off a fire hose held in another’s hands, and dismiss as inadequate the efforts of everyday Greeks and volunteers from around the world doing what the EU should be doing—behavior that may yield a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for those working on the ground in Greece.

Frankly, I think the EU’s afraid.  Its members’ nationalism is showing, and its long unstated but simple plan for protecting its mainland members from the onslaught of immigration is no longer working.

And what was that plan? Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis described it succinctly a half dozen years ago: “[EU] Member states kept returning immigrant asylum seekers to Greece claiming that, as their original EU entry point, by law they’re a Greek problem—as if Greece were the European Union’s immigration filter trap.”

Yep, that’s precisely how the EU has long regarded Greece.  But that filter trap was built to accommodate the flow from a garden hose, not a fire hose.  And trying to channel the flow into your neighbor’s house rather than dealing with it at its source will only flood you both.

I think it’s way past time for the EU to call in a professional plumber capable of fixing its household’s outdated, ineffective system; professionals capable of addressing the problems at their source. Otherwise, man the lifeboats, EU, for the water will only keep coming.

And the drownings.



  1. Entirely too many people seem to think that the world has always been as it was when they were born, and SHOULD remain that way forever. We flicker like fireflies in a hurricane, yet think that all of existence is a mountain of granite. The really sad thing is the behavior engendered by the fear that our light will get blown out by the hurricane's wind, and that all the other twinkling lights about us are of no importance.

  2. Well said, Jeff and Evka. The bitter part is that no politician will do anything because all decisions are based on how it is perceived by voters in the next hour. Only a few take the long view - the next week.

    1. Absolutely right on, Michael; the curse of our time is the symbiotic reliance of the Media-Politico Complex on instantaneous ratings as the sole measure of value.

  3. Oh, this is so awful. Yes, the Greek people are exemplary and should be emulated throughout Europe for their true humanitarianism. They are the light in the midst of ridiculous, reactionary nationalism.

    Well, I could say that the EU countries could stop bombing countries from which people are fleeing -- and could send a lot more food and other aid.

    If the militarism doesn't stop, people will keep fleeing. But meanwhile, the EU countries should stop the nationalists from influencing policies and aid the migrants. They're all human beings and should be treated as such.

    And, then, back to the politicians-nationalist complex over here. I can't watch it. And I can also add that it's also anti-woman as they're using Planned Parenthood as a punching bag, an organization that provides medical care to nearly 3 million low-income people a year.

    Back to the mysteries to escape.

    1. If we expand the discussion to present day US, the current political climate portends an even darker fate for those most in need.

  4. Jeff, how well you have described this issue. In this existential test, the EU shows its tragic flaw. Our US Federal/State is imperfect, but it functions with our laws and judiciary system. The EU doesn't have a legal system in place to handle a crisis--social or economic, in a fair way. It's frightening to think a the possible consequences.

    1. Thanks, Sis. Nationalism over immigration is the most serious threat of unravelling the EU. And those most anxious to preserve the Union (hmm, sound familiar) seem prepared to do anything to save it...perceived at the moment as paying billions in veritable "blackmail" to Turkey, while using Greece as its whipping boy for the sins of its mainland members.

    2. Yup! And there is no court or tribunal where the Greeks can go to get fair and just treatment. Dreadful.