The proposal to seal the border between Macedonia and Greece made by the Slovenian Prime minister and being considered by Brussels is the latest round in last year’s Eurozone crisis, in which the plan to expel Greece has entered through another door. Having held off doing the irrevocable at the last minute in 2015, Brussels is now proposing to take the more incremental step to expel Greece from the Schengen free travel zone. Under the Slovenian plan, the rules of Schengen would be changed to deny Greece the European right of free travel.
The expression “ring-fence Greece” often heard in the press is a weasel word. To “ring-fence” should mean to place a fence around an area. In this case, the fence would obviously not go around Greece, only across its northern border. Being open to the sea, Greece’s southern and eastern borders would continue to be accessible to the rickety, unseaworthy craft that transport migrants to Greece from Turkey and other points in the middle-east. Turkey has so far declined to assist Europe in stemming the flow of migrants, so the EU is considering “ring-fencing Greece,” redrawing Greece’s border to leave Greece out.
In addition, “ring-fence” has another, sinister connotation. We speak of “ring-fencing” a section of a bank or a business when its financial condition is precarious and is believed to threaten the solvency of the whole. In fact, that is the true sense of the Slovenian suggestion. Greece is a problem, so this is the way to solve the problem -get rid of Greece.
As early as 2014, I argued in the Mediterranean Review (“Greece–the Open Circle,” Mediterranean Quarterly Review, August 2014,) that in conjunction with its agreement with the Eurozone, Greece should be given EU assistance to monitor the flow of refugees into the country. Now, events have joined these two crises -the Eurozone crisis and the migration crises- together. The role of Greece is central to both.
The solution continues to be now as then that the EU should 1) provide some debt relief to Greece to stimulate its economy, 2) give assistance to Greece to house refugees in temporary but humane conditions on Greek soil. This would go some way to meeting the two crises that threaten to tear Europe apart, and in the process it would lower the risk of violent European home-grown extremism. It is folly for Europe to open its doors to middle eastern migrants without at the same time protecting its own EU citizens in Greece, Italy and Spain, all of which are in the front lines of the migration route to Europe.
Article originally published in The World Post – Read the full article here