Greece Fences Turkish Border But Immigrants Come By Sea


As Greece completed a 10.5-kilometer (6.5 miles) long fence on its border with Turkey along the Evros River in a bid to keep out seemingly endless waves of illegal immigrants, a small boat carrying an overload of Iraqis fleeing their country sank on Dec. 15 off the island of Lesbos – almost within sight of Turkey – drowning 20.

The timing illustrated the plight of immigrants trying to get into the European Union through its southernmost country and Greece trying to cope with boatloads from Africa and Turkey, and by land through its borders. Greek authorities hope the 4-meter tall, barbed-wire fence that cost more than 3 million euros will keep them out.

Nearly 100,000 immigrants were arrested while trying to cross from Turkey in 2011, and Greece fears the strife in Syria will make the 201-kilometer (125-mile) long border inviting for more. The wall is aimed at blocking a small stretch of dry land between the countries, but immigrants try to swim the Evros River, some drowning, others victim to hypothermia.

Scores of thousands of undocumented immigrants used to cross into Greece from Turkey, but the wall has cut the numbers from 300 a day to 10-15 per month, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres.  While the fence, even during its construction, cut down arrivals of illegal immigrants by 95 percent by land, they turned in increasing numbers to the sea and the Greek islands of the Aegean. In the first seven months of the year, police and coast guard officers on islands said they detained 102 undocumented migrants while 1,536 were caught in the next three months.

Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, a political scientist from Ankara Bilkent University, said the practical effect of the fence will be minimal on limiting illegal immigration because refugees and asylum seekers will just use other crossing points.

“On the other hand, I consider Greek concerns about Turkey’s refusal to collaborate in the implementation of the Readmission Agreement to be legitimate. Turkey has to do more to deter illegal migration waves towards Greece,” Grigoriadis told Southeast European Times.  Turkish officials estimated that 55,000 illegal migrants sneaked into Evros prefecture from neighboring Turkey last year and some Greek officials have continued to chafe at what they saw as Turkey’s unwillingness to do more to stop them.

Stratos Georgoulas, a sociology professor at the University of the Aegean on Lesbos, told SETimes the fence won’t deter immigrants from getting into Greece. “Every day for the last six months more than 20 people were crossing the sea borders. If they don’t drown, they stay in places here without any help from the Greek government. Many of us try to give them and clothes,” he said.

Many, he said, are asylum seekers coming to a country where as few as one in 10,000 applicants are granted that status and as a number of organizations, now including Amnesty International, in a report criticizing an ongoing sweep of immigrants and the conditions in which many are held, have blasted Greece’s immigrant policy.

“Greece’s failure to respect the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers is taking on the proportions of a humanitarian crisis,” John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International said.  “Against a backdrop of sustained migratory pressure, profound economic crisis and rising xenophobic sentiment, Greece is proving itself incapable of providing even the most basic requirements of safety and shelter to the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants arriving each year,” he added.

Exacerbating Greece’s problem is the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that has been blamed for attacks on immigrants, which it denies, although admitting it wants all illegal immigrants out of the country. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also has said he wants Greece rid of foreigners in the country unlawfully.

Amnesty, however, said other European countries share “responsibility for processing asylum applications and supporting asylum seekers more equally among member states.” The organization said that in some cases, Greek authorities were also pushing back migrants crossing from Turkey, including by puncturing a rubber dinghy they were sailing in.

Ketty Kehayioylou, the information officer for UNHCR’s Athens office, said it’s a dilemma for Greece. “Countries have a right to protect their borders, but it (the fence) obliges people to go to more dangerous routes,” she told SETimes.  “Greece is bearing a burden,” she acknowledged, but she added that “Migration has been left unregulated for a long time and that’s created a lot of repercussions. Asylum seekers, especially children, should not be detained,” she added.

Turkish authorities had no official comment on the fence’s completion but nearly a year ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan downplayed the wall’s political significance. “It’s wrong to see this as a wall; it’s just a barrier. We fully trust each other,” he told SETimes then.

Piril Ercoban, director of the Turkish pro-refugee organization Solidarity With the Refugees Association, said a fence isn’t a solution for people willing to escape from poverty and cruelty in their home countries.

As long as obstacles are built before those people, as long as such fences are constructed, they can easily find another, maybe more risky and expensive, way of reaching their target destination,” Ercoban told SETimes.  “Because they need this,” she added. The fence, she said, will just push illegal immigration to other destinations, such as the Aegean sea and Bulgarian frontiers which aren’t guarded as well.

Georgoulas said there a political dimensions. “The problem is not only how the EU deals with migration,” he said. “The real problem is that EU bombs their countries, forces them to leave, and then names them ‘illegal’ without addressing the problem of Greeks and Turks who get paid to put them in small old plastic or wooden boats offering false dreams.”

(Reprinted by permission of Southeast European Times, Menekse Tokyay in Istanbul was the co-writer of this story)

(Kathimerini, 17/12/12; Al Jazeera, 15/12/12; ANSA, 03/12/12)



  1. We should send every illegal to Stratos Georgoulas home… who I would note has a nice government paid for job as a “sociology” professor (i.e. has absolutely no jobs skills beyond pumping far leftist propaganda into impressionable children)

    Ever since the fence was set up there was a massive net decrease in the flow of illegals Contrary to the claims of leftist foreign NGO’s that claimed it wouldn’t go anything.  We need more fences. More patrols. Stiffer penalties towards any that collude with illegal immigration (including stiff fines for anyone that hires an illegal). I strongly support Samaras in revoking citizenship of anyone that received it through violation of our borders. Given the absurd numbers of illegals involved the only allowance  we should make is for temporary stays.

    As for foreign funded NGOs like Amnesty International that complain… ignore anything that comes out their mouths for as long as they dishonestly pretend not to notice the Skopians sudden change into “ancient Macedonians” and irredetism. They seem more far concerned for hiding their mistakes in referencing the Skopians as “Macedonians” then protecting the human rights of Greeks..

    Finally…. I would also point out this story was commissioned by the… a US MILITARY FUNDED “news” organization that pretends into doesnt’ notiec the Skopians irredentism and sudden identity quick change (as well as dishonerably pretending not to know the US itself used to claim there is no such thing as an “ethnic Macedonians”). I wonder how much they paid Andy “the Patriot against corruption”…. to write these articles?

    Keep up the great work writing “news” articles for a foreign military funded organization Andy. Make sure to buy yourself a nice steak and some grey poupon with that money.

  2. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a manipulative greek-hating cockroach that not only pretends he doesn’t the Skopians sudden change into  ancient Macedonians and irredentism but actively lobbies on their behalf.

  3. John Dalhuisen is a patronzing self-righteous prick that can kiss my *ss. Where his voice of protest when it came time to noticing this?

    Like many that lecture Greeks these days, he seems far far more interested in covering up the mistakes of Amnesty
    international in supporting the “ancient macedonians” of FYROM that apologizing for them. We should consider anyone that collaborates with the Skopians as morally complicit in their attempts to erase our very identity.

  4. As I recall all the self-proclaimed foreign funded media and ngos ranted a fence wouldn’t reduce illegal immigration. (see anti-Greek trollers at the Guardian and even Amnesty International that suggested this)

    “the wall has cut the numbers from 300 a day to 10-15 per month, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres”

    I would say that’s a smashing success that far exceeding expectations. (i.e. people that anoint themselves absolute moral authorities on issues  by putting ‘human rights” in their sentences can believe stupdities just like everyone else)

    Can illegals cross by sea? Sure. But its a lot tougher. They’ll look for easier, cheaper and less dangerous ways to cross by land. (also targeting countries other than just Greece that has accepted the brunt of it)

    The next step is kicking out illegals already here. Keep up the great work building fences Samaras. Since so many have decided to be blind around Skopian Nazis, we now need Greece primarily Greeks. It is a place we will not be mocked for our very identity by scumbags that “generously” give our identity away to the Skopians. Free of foreign persecution.

    Every single illegal from Greece should be kicked out. The ones that manipulate foreign funded NGOs should be first in line for expulsion. It might make us even more unpopular but its not like we were currently winning any popularity contests. There are plenty of other countries in the world to illegally immigrate. Non-Greeks in Greece should be respected….with the caveat they are patriots and don;’t collude with the Skopians.

    While they claim to care ab out “human rights”…. I guarantee you virtually none of the illegals give a damn about Greece or Greeks. They just saw our country as the first stop to more money. If countries like US or UK or Germany would accept them they would move in second.

    The US and Great Britain wanted to big tough guys. They bombed serveral countries which creating political instability that forced many of these people out of their native lines. They should be the ones taking them in rather than funding NGOs to try and force other country’s to do so.

    Tthe US military funded doesn’t write articles about how many refugees the US has let since bombing Iraq for non-existence WMDs. The statistically reality is they let in very very few.  (in this is with far far more resources then depression wracked Greece).   What they do instead is fund Greek leftist idiots like Andy (who’s American) to write sob-story articles about the suffering of illegals… suffering the US military under Bush themselves helped bring on with their “shock and awe” bloodthirsty rampage for revenge after 9/11.

    After the alleged protectors of western civilization…betrayed its birthplace by betraying Greeks for the Skopians (apparently they can no longer distinguish between Greek and Slav)… I know the the US no longer stands for anything but itself. Friends don’t collaborate with people trying to ethnically eradicate friends.


    “This (US)
    Government considers talk of Macedonian “nation”, Macedonian
    “Fatherland”, or Macedonia “national consciousness” to be
    unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees
    in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against
    Greece” – US State Department Dec, 1944 (Foreign Relations Vol. VIII
    Washington D.C. Circular Airgram – 868.014/26)

  5. Amnesty International, you are welcome to take them, feed them and support them but don’t accuse others of not being helpful because we have done more than any other country and all we got in return is rise in crime to 42% by these illegal immigrants…

  6. And don’t forget the the “reward” by amnesty international spitting in our faces by pretending not to notice the Skopians. (while hapless leftists like Andy fantasize they care about Greeks)

  7. This is a good fence. We should all applaud this fence. This fence is the border of Europe. Anyone who does not like this fence should go and live on the other side of this fence.
    We now have to figure out how to fence off the Agean.
    It can be done. Let us try to work it out on Greek Reporter.

  8. Lets hear three cheers for this fence…….hip hip hooray, hip hip hooray,hip hip hooray!!!

  9. This is an interesting issue which the rest of Europe ignores at its peril. People from failed states in Africa and the Middle East don’t go to Greece for the sunshine; they go there in order to facilitate their passage up towards northern European countries where significantly more substantial social welfare support is available, most notably the UK (evidence for the latter is that many migrants don’t bother to stop in France, Holland or Belgium although I recognise those countries have similar problems). Others have pointed out in different ways that actions of a strategic and macro economic nature by EU countries (and the USA) ultimately impact in a negative way on these poor countries, the citizens of which then feel compelled to leave because life there holds no positive likelihood of success in any field whether in education, employment or human rights. The EU then gets upset because these same people try to enter the EU for a better life. Well what do you expect?! The EU seems to be leaving already impoverished Greece to get on with this problem on its own, effectively encouraging the rapid growth of Golden Dawn. Turkey is deliberately NOT making any effort to stop the crossings because they know it’s causing havoc for its old Hellenic adversary. This is all getting extremely nasty and the only way to address it is with a concerted international approach but that will never happen so we’ll just watch as the situation slowly becomes more and more inflamed. Just putting up huge long fences won’t solve this problem.

  10. Nice Fences but that’s not enough.
    If the invasion isn’t stopped Hellas will become “Nea Yougkoslavia” in less than 20 years.

  11. Turkey’s actions are a de facto admission that Turkey is not a place to escape from poverty and cruelty (or poltiical violence and oppression). If the Turkish government had any honor they’d be ashamed but…

    The EU seriously needs to grow a big pair. The EU is not responsible for cleaning up the political and social dysfunction of Africa and the Middle East. Taking in all comers (including millions with no social capital who have no chance at ever being anything but the recipients of social benefits) just enables the dysunction to continue where they fled from (as well as giving it a new home).

  12. “People from failed states in Africa and the Middle East don’t go to Greece for the sunshine;”

    And what all greece’s problems if numbers keep flooding it, Greece will be a failed stated next.

    All ignoring extreme illegals immigration achieves is racicsm and conflict. A little controlled immigration on the other hand is a good thing. A country can find that people that are moving because they really want to live with Greece (rather than just using it as a bus station to Germany) and people with skills,  Letting anyone anyone in as our leftistst do is idiocy. It doesn’t bring them up. It turns us into the third world and creates irredentist issues.

  13. What a waste of time and money I bealive if Greece wants to stop this problem it can but they just don’t care they built this fence know they come by sea what a surprise in my opinion Greece has a lot of problems this is one that needs to be taken care of because Greece is dirt poor it can’t take any more people Western Europe needs to help Greece with this problem because the only reason they come to Greece because they want to get to Northern Europe so this is a Northern European problem Greece needs to put the navy in full force when people are arrested they should be taken care of then sent to Northern Europe that’s were they want to go anyways.

  14. You’re right, Greece (and to some extent Spain) has become a huge bus station! A combination of managed migration and strategic and macro economic reform is the way forward. But we all know it won’t happen. Maybe when there are a few immigrant deaths caused by far right groups people might take notice and try to resolve this issue. My genuine view is that we’re heading towards increasing destabilisation and social unrest.

  15. Turkey uses the immigrant issue as a threat against the EU visa regime. Turkey is a member state 1965 and its citisens still have to wait for visa. Turkey basicly says “If you lift the visa regime and allow free entry (just as all member states have this right) I will sign the Return of Immigrants paper. If you not allow it, enjoy your illegal immigrants.. I support Turkey’s position in the issue