Greek Immigration Policy at the Turn of the 21st Century.: Lack of political will or purposeful mismanagement?


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.


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