Th is article traces the development of Greek immigration policy during the last two decades with a view
to explaining the role that parties, trade unions and other actors including the Church for instance have
played in shaping this policy. Th e article outlines the reactive and piecemeal character of the policy, its
important weakness in dealing eff ectively with immigration fl ows and the excessive red tape that characterises
it. It is noted that nearly 20 years after the fi rst migrants arrived in the country, Greek immigration
policy remains short-sighted, dealing with immigration as a necessary evil and not as an opportunity. Th is
lack of vision and the closed character of the policy has been supported directly or indirectly by both
parties and trade unions. Th e two major parties have been until recently largely agreed in their exclusionary
views towards immigrants. It is only since 2004 that the Socialist party has changed its plans but it
remains uncertain whether and how it would implement its radical (by Greek standards) pro-immigrant
policies if it came to power. Overall, Greek political elites lack the political will to adopt a proactive and
realistic migration policy plan. Th is is partly because migration neither wins nor loses national elections.
And partly because they fear that stating publicly that Greece should accept economic immigrants
through legal channels and that immigrants should become part of Greek society on a basis of equality
and plurality would cost them votes.