Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Greece: Uproar over plan to build border fence and expel migrants

Greek Citizen Protection minister Christos Papoutsis provoked fierce reactions on new year's eve, by announcing his government's new zero-tolerance immigration policy:

Η ελληνική κοινωνία έχει ξεπεράσει τα όριά της όσον αφορά στη δυνατότητα υποδοχής παράνομων μεταναστών. Θέλω να ξεκαθαρίσω ότι στη χώρα μας θα παραμείνουν μόνο εκείνοι οι μετανάστες που έχουν δικαίωμα διεθνούς προστασίας ή δικαίωμα ασύλου. Όλοι οι υπόλοιποι [..] θα φύγουν από την Ελλάδα, είτε με εθελοντικό επαναπατρισμό είτε με υποχρεωτική απέλαση.

Greek society has reached its limits in taking in illegal immigrants. I want to make it clear that only those migrants entitled to international protection or asylum will remain in our country. Everyone else will leave Greece, either through voluntary repatriation or by mandatory expulsion.

Proposed plans to curb migration, which include erecting a fence across 12.5 km of the Evros border with Turkey, repurposing old military bases and leasing floating prisons to deter and detain asylum seekers, left the European Commission unimpressed, but provoked criticism from citizens, opposition parties and human rights groups. The measures were scaled back, according to media reports.

Reactions in blogs

Apostolos Tsompanopoulos harkened back to dystopic comics and a renowned Greek poet, himself an émigré:

αυτόματα μου ήρθαν στο μυαλό δύο πράγματα: το τείχος της Μεγάπολης-1, που χώριζε την πόλη από την καταραμένη Γη και τα Τείχη του Κ.Π.Καβάφη. Σκέφτηκα ότι και οι παππούδες μου, εκείνο τον καιρό που ήρθαν στην Ελλάδα, «παράνομοι μετανάστες» ήταν τότε[..] Στη συνέχεια σκέφτηκα ότι όσοι ζουν δίπλα στο ποτάμι, δε θα το βλέπουν πια.

Aνεπαισθήτως μ’ έκλεισαν από τον κόσμον έξω.

Δε μ’ αρέσει ο κόσμος που έφτιαξα, παππού.

I was reminded of two things: the wall of Mega-City One, that divided it from Cursed Earth, and C. P. Cavafy's Walls. I thought that my grandparents were “illegal immigrants”, when they came to Greece [..] Then I thought that those who live by the river won't be able to see it anymore.

Out of the world, insensibly, they shut me out.

I don't like the world I've built, grandpa.

Fotis Vassileiou criticized the government for walling the country in with its austerity policies:

το πιο αποφασιστικό μέτρο εναντίον της παράνομης μετανάστευσης είναι η πολιτική που εφαρμόζει η κυβέρνησή σας. Ποιος μετανάστης παράνομος ή νόμιμος θα θέλει να έρθει σε μια χώρα που η πολίτες της συστηματικά φτωχοποιούνται [..] που κυριαρχεί η βία και η τρομοκρατία κάθε είδους -ιδεολογική, κρατική, αντεξουσιαστική, παρακρατική, ενημερωτική;

The most effective measure against illegal immigration is the policy enacted by your government. Which immigrant, legal or illegal, would want to live in a country whose citizens are systematically impoverished [..], where violence and terrorism of all kinds are rampant: ideological, statist, anti-statist, para-statist, and of the media?

Imaginative imagery

Photo collages of the proposed fence sprung up quickly. Freelance photojournalist Craig Wherlock produced a haunting remix of a well known tourist poster:

Discover the hidden treasures of our country #teixos -By Craig Wherlock

Architect nvenia imagined the point of view of incoming migrants,

#teixos -by @nvenia

… while Evros native alex_walex drew a bird's eye view of the fence:

Aerial topographic survey of #teixos -by alex_walex

Eliza Kalesi lamented the vista that will be lost:

River Evros… #teixos -by Eliza Kalesi

Reactions on Twitter

On Twitter there was uproar over the government's plans; the hashtag #teixos was quickly picked – meaning “wall” not fence in Greek – referencing a famous Pink Floyd song, “The Wall”. Many Twitter users mads puns related to the song, as well as on Cavafy:

evb_SKG: Τα τείχη τα γκρεμίζεις περιμένοντας τους Pink Floyd RT @elenirou Τα Τείχη τα χτίζεις Περιμένοντας τους Βαρβάρους; #teixos #kk

You build Walls Waiting for the Barbarians?
You tear down walls waiting for Pink Floyd

UNHCR-Greece public information officer Ketty Kehayoylou used Twitter to officially comment:

Plans 4 fence at Gr/Tur border#UNHCR:border control must be protection sensitive for refugees Raising fences rarely solves real problems

Anestis focused on environmental concerns:

Εκτός απο τα προφανή, το τείχος/φράχτης, τι προβλήματα θα προκαλέσει στην τοπική πανίδα; #teixos

Besides the obvious, what problems will the wall/fence cause to the local fauna?

Thanos Koukoulis cautioned the minister:

Τα τείχη είναι ανώφελα γιατί έτσι και αλλιώς πέφτουν, είτε από τους αποφασισμένους είτε από τους απελπισμένους #teixos (fyi @Ch_Papoutsis)

Walls are useless, because they fall anyway, either to the committed or to the desperate

Spyros VJ also alluded to Cavafy's poem,

Τα πραγματικά τείχη έχουν χτίστεί επιμελώς στα μυαλά, τα μάτια και τα αυτιά μας. #teixos

The real walls have been meticulously erected in our minds, eyes and ears.

Krotkie sarcastically quipped:

γιατί μας πειράζει το #teixos ; είναι απαραίτητο για την επιστροφή στο μεσαίωνα που συντελείται εδώ και μερικά χρόνια.

Why do we mind the wall? It's necessary for the return to the Dark Ages being enacted for years now.


  • […] Illegal Aliens In Greece! Filed under: Greece, Uncategorized by airforceracer — Leave a comment January 13, 2011 Greece has a lot of illegal aliens or immigrants from other country’s. The Greek Citizen Protection minister Christos Papoutsis has decided to take action against the illegal immigrants in there country. He caused an uproar over his zero tolerance policy against illegal immigrants. He says “Greek society has reached its limits in taking in illegal immigrants. I want to make it clear that only those migrants entitled to international protection or asylum will remain in our country. Everyone else will leave Greece, either through voluntary repatriation or by mandatory expulsion.” quoted from global voices online. […]

  • […] select any country they desire to read a blog post from.  For example, there is a blog post titled Greece: Uproar over a plan to build border fence and expel migrants that also provides a link to the writer’s Asteris Masouras blog .  The site offers an […]

  • […] heated reactions on Greek blogs and social networking sites. Asteris Masouras has a round-up at Global Voices Online. […]

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site