Greece plans floating barriers

In view of growing numbers of migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey, Athens has announced plans to build floating fences. In a first step a three-kilometre barrier that protrudes half a metre out of the water and is lined with flashing lights will be erected off Lesbos. The cost is estimated at half a million euros. Commentators are unimpressed by the idea.

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Kathimerini (GR) /

Arrogant comments instead of support

The EU has said that such barriers should not be used to block fair access to asylum procedures. Greece deserves more support than that, the pro-government daily Kathimerini writes:

“The criticism from citizens and from the media at the idea of installing a floating barrier in the northern Aegean to stem the inflow of migrants and refugees from Turkey is absolutely welcome. But how is condemnation of the scheme by European Union authorities in any way helpful? What Greece needs from Brussels is a constructive contribution to efforts to tackle the problem, not high-minded commentary. Greece is burdened with far more than its fair share of a problem that is European in nature and not just national. And as such it deserves a lot more support from everyone.”

Imerodromos (GR) /

An unethical plan

This plan is not only unethical but also ineffective, criticises Imerodromos:

“It's clear that the government wants to send the message that it is 'fighting' the influx of refugees to the Greek islands. This is meant to serve as an answer to the doubts about its refugee policy revealed by several recent studies. The 'barrier', which in this form is actually used to contain oil spills, is a choice inspired by racism. It's not hard to see that the material is completely unsuitable for this purpose, since it can be easily destroyed or broken through by anyone travelling by boat.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Money better spent elsewhere

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the idea is absurd:

“The almost three-kilometre-long blinking barrier will hardly act as a real deterrent because it's easy to bypass. And there's no way Greece can completely fence off all the islands off the Turkish coast. So the defence minister's announcement is first and foremost a show move rather than a serious attempt to solve the problems on the Aegean Islands. ... That does nothing to change the inhumane conditions in the island camps, which remain a disgrace for Europe. The half a million euros earmarked for the barrier would be better spent there.”

Liberal (GR) /

Government must put extra time to good use

The barriers are primarily intended as a signal to the people of Greece, Liberal believes:

“The goal of this decision is to reassure the public. ... The only question is whether it will work as a communication strategy, because this is its sole purpose. … Migration is a complex international problem. But brazen politicians have turned it into a communication problem because they've realised that they can use it to gain votes and popularity. ... The government has entered this communication game late. Now it should regard this measure as an opportunity that gives it time to speed up asylum procedures, organise quick and spectacular returns for those whose applications are rejected and create humane conditions at the hotspots.”