EU left its Mediterranean members alone to deal with refugees: Greek expert

EU left its Mediterranean members alone to deal with refugees: Greek expert

EU provides very little financial aid to member states dealing with refugee crisis, says expert

By Omer Faruk Madanoglu

ISTANBUL (AA) - The EU did not help its Mediterranean members stop irregular migration which increased the pressure on refugees in Greece, according to a Greek political scientist.

"Wealthy member states such as Sweden, Finland, and Germany should help Mediterranean countries more in terms of irregular migration. The EU needs to help its Mediterranean members,” Stefanos Kefokeris told Anadolu.

Underlining that irregular migration in Greece has turned into an "inextricable" political problem, he said that the Mediterranean countries have been trying to fight alone for years.

He added that the EU provides very little financial aid to the member states facing the refugee crisis, which has shaken the economies of the countries.

Regarding the Greek refugee policy, he said it is “of course not correct” as there is no financial aid.

“There is no political support from international organizations in this regard. Greece has had to deal with this problem alone for decades,” he added.

Questioning why other EU members do not shoulder the burden of Spain, Italy, or Greece, he said they do not want to be part of the problem and “get their hands dirty.”

The first wave of immigration to Greece started with the Bosnian War and the Greeks hosted the incoming visitors in their homes, he said. But as the economy deteriorated, the hospitality turned into "refugee hostility,” he added.

He also stressed that xenophobia increased in parallel with the economic and political crisis that started in Greece in the 2000s.

“Greek people began to see refugees as the cause of the current crisis. The approach of the Greek people to foreigners is not like 20 years ago. There is a lot of racism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the country now. All this is due to the political failures not only of Greece but of the EU,” he added.

Noting that there are verbal and physical attacks on refugees on the street in Greece, he said changing the negative ideas regarding refugees and Muslims seems difficult.

For years, human rights groups and Turkish officials have documented cases of irregular migrants being beaten, abused, stripped of their clothes, and their belongings stolen when they cross the border into Greece, by land or by sea, often at the hands of Greek border guards. They have urged the enactment of reforms and other measures to stop such incidents, which violate international law.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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