This is an open letter I received from a group of 57 Greek intellectuals, addressed to the EU and America, concerning the waves of refugees (migrants, immigrants) that ‘wash ashore’ on Greek territory in increasing numbers.
We all know by now to what extent Europe has dropped the ball on the issue, and I’ll have much more to say on that soon. I thought it would be a good and respectful idea to let this letter stand on its own, and on its own merit.
The number of refugees trying to make it to Greece was estimated at 30,000 in 2014. It’s certain to be a multiple of that this year. The EU may quote numbers like 150,000 for all of southern Europe for 2015, but in real life it will easily be over 500,000.
The EU has no idea what it’s doing, what it’s up against, or what to do next. Brussels figured if it would just close its eyes, the problem would go away. And even today, after almost 1000 victims drowned last weekend, passing the buck to its weakest member nations is apparently still too tempting an opportunity to resist.
Greece Can No Longer Withstand The Waves Of Desperate People Arriving From War Zones:
Your Immediate Action Is Imperative
• The Leaders of all European countries
• All Members of the European Parliament
• President Obama and All Members of the United States Congress
Greece, April 2015
The conflicts in many Middle-Eastern and African countries have devastated life in these regions and made survival uncertain. While the world has been witnessing the horrific decapitations and burning alive of human beings, large scale events are also occurring that can change the history and the fate of the affected countries and the world. Thousands of people, Christians and Muslims, are fleeing the war zones in any way they can; entire families jump into boats hoping to reach Europe, if they do not drown on the way.
Southern Europe is the most accessible, and particularly Greece and Italy. Tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea, with desperate people drowning on the way to Europe, have been happening for a few years by now. But only recently this news reached the United States (US) and every part of the world, due to the extensive loss of human lives, while it is hardly in the news that Greece and Italy have been left essentially with no help to deal with these tragedies.
Greece has now close to a 27% unemployment rate and is struggling to convince her lenders of the obvious: that the economy will not recover by more cuts in salaries and pensions, more mass layoffs, and the sell-off of public assets. Signs of the crisis are everywhere. An increasing number of Greeks are being fed by their local churches. Illegal immigrants already fill the streets of Athens and try to survive by searching the garbage or turn to criminal activities. Hospitals struggle to provide care to all of Greece’s inhabitants. Against this background, the waves of hungry and sick people from war zones arriving at Greece’s ports and islands are growing.
Others arrive by crossing the borders with Turkey, whose government seems to turn a blind eye to this situation, giving the human traffickers free rein. Greece, a small country with a population of only about 10 million, already has an estimated one and a half million immigrants (legal and illegal), and the number of refugees has been increasing dramatically in recent months.
Even hospitable Greeks cannot take care of the refugees. They simply cannot feed and provide shelter in the short-term, or employment in the long-term. Greece is akin to a boat where those aboard are trying to prevent it from sinking, while people who are desperate to avoid drowning appear all around the boat and try to jump in. The fate of such a boat and all of those aboard is sadly predictable.
The European Union (EU) and the US cannot remain observers to this externally-inflicted Greek drama. Steps that must be taken immediately include:
1) Efforts to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa must intensify. Success will not be achieved if lessons from past mistakes are not heeded. The words “dictator” and dictatorship” do not sound good to our “democratic ears”, but if one has to choose between favoring on one hand, a dictatorship under which Christians and all Muslims live peacefully side and side, and on the other hand complete chaos and devastation, the choice is obvious.
2) The Dublin Regulation, according to which the Member State through which an asylum seeker first enters the EU is responsible for the care of the refugee who must be returned to the “Member State of Origin” if caught in another European country must be cancelled or modified. Among other serious shortcomings, it places excessive pressure on South Europe, and particularly on Greece and Italy.
Who can honestly say that such a regulation is in accordance with the spirit of fair share of the burden among the EU countries? The Dublin regulation has been criticized by the European Council of Refugees and Exiles, as well as by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. It is high time for changes to this regulation, which will be beneficial to all concerned.
3) A number of good proposals have been offered by Ms. Federica Mogherini (European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship. Such are the transfer of Syrian Refugees to Northern Europe and the creation of safe zones within the regions of conflict, where asylum cases and other refugee issues can be resolved.
These proposals must move from the discussion to the implementation phase immediately. Additionally, the US should accept her fair share of these refugees.
The EU and US need to hear the pleas coming from the southern European countries, as well as those of the refugees. The humanitarian catastrophe has reached large scale, with profound and irreversible consequences. Greece is paying a disproportionately high price, although Greece played no role in triggering this catastrophe. The EU and the US have the moral obligation, which is also consistent with their long-term interests, to take the necessary steps to put an end to the suffering of those in war zones, while at the same time preventing Greece’s collapse under the mounting pressure of refugees.
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- Anagnostopoulos Stavros A., Emeritus Professor, University of Patras, Chief Editor (Europe), Earthquakes and Structures GREECE.
- Anastassopoulou Jane, PhD, Privatdozent, Professor, National Technical University of Athens, GREECE
- Andreatos S. Antonios, Prof. of Comp. Engineering, Hellenic Air Force Academy, GREECE.
- Angelides Demos, Ph.D., P.E., Professor Emeritus of Marine Structures, Department of Civil Engineering Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54124, GREECE
- Angelides Chr. Odysseas, DIC, CEng, MIET, Chartered Engineer, CYPRUS
- Argyropoulos, Yiannis, Ph.D., Principal Member of Technical Staff, AT&T Labs, USA.
- Arkas Evangelos Ph.D. Physics & Th.D. CEO. PHOS Solar Technologies Ltd London, UK.
- Aroniadou-Anderjaska, Vassiliki, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Maryland, USA.
- Baloglou George, retired SUNY Professor of Mathematics, GREECE .
- Blytas, George C. Ph.D. Physical Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Research Consultant, Royal Dutch-Shell; President, GCB Separations Technology, Founder and Conductor: The Houston Sinfonietta. Author, The First Victory, Greece in the Second World War, 2009. USA.
- Christakis Christofi, General of Cyprus Army (Ret.), CYPRUS.
- Cefalas Alkiviadis-Constantinos, Director of Research, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Theoretical and Physical Chemistry Institute, GREECE.
- Christou Theodora, PhD in Law from Queen Mary University of London, UK
- Dokos Socrates, PhD, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, UNSW, 2052, AUSTRALIA
- Economidis Alexandros, Engineer, GREECE.
- Eleftheriades George Savva, OAM, GCSCG, CETr, JP, Retired Academician, Australia.
- Eleftheriadou Eugenia, CLETr, CSH, Retired Academician, AUSTRALIA.
- Eleftheriou Panicos, Bank customer service officer, GREECE
- Euthymiou Pavlos N., Emeritus Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GREECE
- Evangeliou, Christos C., Professor of Philosophy, Towson University, Maryland, USA.
- Foutsitzis George, PhD. Ecole Superieure Robert De Sorbon, FRANCE.
- Fytrolakis Nikolaos, Emeritus Professor, National Technical University of Athens, GREECE.
- Gatzoulis, Nina, Professor, University of New Hampshire, USA.
- Georgiadis Georgios, Maj. General (Ret.), GREECE.
- Georgiadis Sotirios, Admiral (Ret.), GREECE.
- Giannoukos Stamatios, Ph.D., University of Liverpool, UK.
- Gryspolakis Joachim, Professor Emeritus, Technical University of Crete, 73100 Chania, GREECE.
- Ioannides Panos, Lawyer-Industrialist, Nicosia, CYPRUS.
- Ioannou Petros, Professor, Electrical Engineering Systems, University of Southern California, Director Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies, Associate Director for Research METRANS, Director of Financial Engineering Masters Program, Los Angeles, CA, USA
- Kakouli-Duarte, Thomais, PhD., Lecturer, Institute of Technology Carlow, Past President Hellenic Community of Ireland, Trustee Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Dublin, Patron and Director at Phoenix Project Ireland, IRELAND.
- Kaloy, Dr. Nicolas, Ph.D.(Philosophy), Geneva, SWITZERLAND.
- Katsifarakis Kostas, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GREECE.
- Kostas/ Konstantatos Demosthenes Ph.D,MSc, MBA, Greenwich CT USA
- Kostopoulos K. Dimitra, LLB.,LLM (International Law of the Sea), GREECE.
- Kostopoulos S. Konstantinos, B.A., M.Sc. (Transport Economics), GREECE.
- Koumakis Leonidas, Jurist, Author, GREECE.
- Kyriakou Georgios, Professor, Democritus University of Thrace, GREECE.
- Kyratzopoulos S Vassilios, System Analyst, Voula, Attica, GREECE.
- Lazaridis Anastasios, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Widener University, Chester, PA, USA.
- Magliveras Spyros S., Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics, Florida Atlantic University, and Assoc. Director CCIS.
- Mermigas Lefteris, Pathology SUNYAB, USA.
- Moraitis L. Nicholaos, Ph.D., International relations-Comparative politics. University of california, U.S.A.
- Negreponti-Delivanis, Maria, Former Rector and Professor in the University of Macedonia, President of Delivanis’ Foundation, GREECE.
- Papagiannis Grigorios, Dr. Phil., Associate Professor, Democritus University of Thrace, GREECE.
- Papadopoulos Nikolaos, Th., Ph.D., FEBO Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GREECE.
- Papadopoulos A.P. Tom, Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor, Windsor, Ontario, CANADA
- Papadopoulou Maria, Civil Engineer, Ph.D. Candidate, Author, Director of the Institute for the Preservation of Hellenic Culture, GREECE.
- Papakostas Stefanos, MBA (Univ. of Texas at El Paso), Ex Professor of the American Colleges in Athens, Southeastern College, Deree College, Univ. of Indianapolis, GREECE.
- Pavlos Georgios, Associate Professor, Democritus Technological University of Thrace, GREECE.
- Phufas-Jousma Ellene, Professor, SUNY ERIE, Buffalo NY USA.
- Rigos, Capt. Evangelos, Master Mariner, BBA Pace University of New York, GREECE.
- Salemi Christina, MSc, Mechanical Engineering, GREECE.
- Stampoliadis, Elias, Professor, Technological University of Crete, GREECE.
- Tjimopoulou Fryni, Chemist, University of Athens, GREECE.
- Vallianatos Evaggelos, Ph.D. Scholar and Writer, USA.
- Vamvakousis Georgios, PhD. Engineer, University of Paul Sabatier, FRANCE
- Yannopoulos Panayotis, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Patras, GREECE.