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“Migration policy change” document sets Greece’s political world on fire

“I was speechless, when I heard it in the news, I didn’t know what was about,” Alternate Minister for Public Order & Citizen’s Protection Yiannis Panousis told media Wednesday morning. He was referring to an document –  a circular, in fact –  issued by a high-ranking police officer and claiming that migrants entering illegal the country should not be detained.  The issue set Greece’s government and mainly opposition party Nea Dimokratia on fire.

“No political person issued such a document. Neither I did, nor the deputy Migration Minister, not the Interior Minister,” Panousis assured the press corps and added that the chief of Greek Police investigates the matter.

The circular

The document with title “New policy to migrants’ detention procedures” was uploaded to several police websites mostly at the borders. The document  was practically giving green light to undocumented migrants to come to Greece and stay up to six months. And thus violating the “Dublin II Treaty” as it was unilaterally changing the Greek Migration Policy.

migration circular

What was precarious was the the circular had neither the signature of the Chief of the Greek Police, nor the signature of the Minister.

The circular was issued by a high ranking official of the Migration & Borders Protection Department of the Greek Police and was sent to the Border Guards.

According to the circular, undocumented migrants arriving illegally in Greece would not be detained but they would be given a document instead with the option to stay in the country for 30-days. If they would not leave within the 30-day deadline and be arrested and deported within six months.

The news about the alleged change in Greece migration policy was broadcast on Tuesday evening Prime Time News of private Skai TV.

The mainstream media outlet “claimed it was a document according all migrants coming to Greece by land or b sea would not be arrested, but granted a residence permit from one up to six months. And that furthermore, all migrants would be released from migration detention camps as of today, with exception of those charged with criminal offenses.”

The hell broke out

Prompt was the reaction of the Border  Guards Association as they were the receivers of the order. But quick was also the reaction by conservative Nea Dimokratia.

In a statement former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras accused SYRIZA-led coalition government of opening Greece’s borders to “hordes of immigrants

Samaras’ statement

The coalition transform Greece into a magnet attracting illegal immigrants in the country. The impact on social cohesion, citizen’s safety, to economy and tourism will be devastating and additionally there will be consequences in our relationship with Europe. Unfortunately, our worst predictions are verified. We call on them to immediately reverse the irresponsible decision. “

Within hours the document was flying from internet website to blog.

About two hours later, the Public Order Ministry issued a statement  describing the order as “product of sick imagination or fixed scripts to terrorize the citizens,” and saying that “the notice about the Detention Centers lack seriousness and any basis of truth.”

In a non0paper the office of the Prime Ministry spoke of a bad theatrical performance.

“In a badly staged and dangerous theatrical performance, the President of ND Antonis Samaras in cooperation with specific systems promote the news that the government will open tomorrow all detention centers!” And that they try to convince that “the country is at risk!”.

As expected the mutual accusations became top news in the morning radio and television programs, with lawmakers and party officials, with current and former ministers engaging into fierce and angry debates.

SYRIZA spoke of “provocation”, ND claimed that the circular was based on “statements and press releases of the new minister in charge of migration.”

Even the Chairman of the Border Guards Association was questioned by the media. However he had no reply to the question “why he did not cross-check with the Ministry when he was that the document did not bear the necessary signatures.”

By noon, Alternate Minister for Public Order & Citizens’ Protection Yannis Panousis had ordered the withdrawal and cancellation of the circular and “official internal inquiry.”

“This text came out of nowhere. The government has not yet announced its policy on immigration,” Panousis said during the press conference and also attacked Skai and other media outlets, saying that the journalists had failed to cross-check their information, resulting in fear and panic among the public.

There has been talk that the Alternate Minister was also expecting “resignation” by the official/s in charge, but so far, nobody submitted any.

During Prime Time News,  Alpha TV reported that Police Orders do not require the Ministers’ signature. Citing police sources, an Alpha TV reporter said that Alternate Minister for Migration Christodoulopoulou had a meeting with police officers on February 18th with the purpose to change the migration policy and that yesterday (Tuesday), a MM’s assistant told police officers to proceed with the changes.

PS Debate and investigation continue.

 

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3 comments

  1. Much ado about nothing.

  2. This act of scaremongering is maliciously, designed to maline the people.
    i.e., “look at what the people whom we are trying to help really are”

  3. This is political dynamite for the government coalition. Syriza’s partner Anel is rather anti-immigration. Thus, ND’s efforts to make this a topic of discussion and Syriza’s attempts to downplay this.