A sit-in protest by Syrian refugees on Syntagma Square opposite the Greek parliament in the heart of Athens has turned into a demonstration of the stalemate faced by both Greek as well as European immigration policy.
After the Italian sea search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum at a cost of nine million euros a month, through which the Italian Navy has rescued nearly 100,000 migrants – although perhaps up to 3,000 have died – from the Mediterranean since October 2013, Europe is now presenting its new face in the Mediterranean.
The new European Commission looks more like an experiment in balancing opposite forces than an institution that is run by some kind of governance. It will probably end up being paralysed by internal conflicts, which is the last thing it needs.
Plans by the Greek government to sell companies that handle the key resources of energy and water face serious obstacles and its policy to offer investors exceptional privileges in an effort to boost interest in privatisation is coming under strong pressure.
The evolution of immigration and border control policy in Greece and its interdependence with European funding suggests an agenda which has been decided above national legislatures with strong coordination between European political actors and economic interests, while ignoring the human suffering it produces.
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Greece and other recession-hit European countries as they undergo harsh austerity measures in exchange for a bailout. At the heart of it is the Troika, say trade unions, civil society and rights activists.
The start of Greece’s six-month presidency of the EU was marked by a ceremony Wednesday in the Greek capital attended by the EU commissioners. But protests were banned and there was no in-depth talk about the raging controversy over the bloc’s handling of the Greek debt crisis and the renewed concerns about the vitality of the Eurozone.
A Nov. 19 paper by the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU diplomatic corps, considers the possibility of the European military getting involved in the south Mediterranean in an effort to curb the influx of irregular migrants and refugees into Europe.
Human rights groups have circulated evidence in the last few days indicating that Greece, Italy and Egypt illegally detain and push back Syrian refugees.
While the relentless war in Syria continuously adds to the number of refugees travelling west to Europe, Greece is fast becoming a nation they are choosing to avoid.
Thousands of civil servants have marched through the Greek capital, Athens, and the second largest city, Thessaloniki, amid a two-day nationwide strike against planned job cuts.
Greece has started unravelling its civil sector further in an attempt to persuade the Troika - the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission - to commit more bailout money by next October.
The economic crisis began in the United States under the administration of then-President George W. Bush, following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers Bank. It came as a result of unregulated globalisation and a neoliberal ideology that places usurious markets, offshore bank accounts, and money for the sake of money, above state power. It is an ideology that ignores citizens, even as they starve.
The European Union (EU) has asked its citizens to brace for further economic misery. In a report on European economic prospects released on May 3, the European Commission said that further deterioration is expected to last at least until 2015. But, as every such report says, things will then get better.
Any sense of tranquility that hangs around the mountain of Skouries in northern Greece, 80 km east of Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki, is a façade. Home to some of the oldest forests in Greece, the pristine region is now a battleground, as the local population takes on the Canadian mining giant Eldorado Gold Corporation and its local subsidiary, Hellas Gold.