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Friday, January 7, 2011

Europe's new Berlin Wall?

The TurkEU Blog is returning from the dead (or at least the holidays)!

The big recent news is the Greek decision to erect a 12 km long wall/fence along its border with Turkey, to curb immigration flows across the border. The original plan - to build a wall/fence along the entire 200+ km border - was scaled back after heavy criticism from human rights groups and various European commentators. But even this smaller version is receiving criticism from international bodies like UNHCR, Amnesty International, and even the EU. A Commission spokesperson stated (on Jan 3) that
Fences and walls have proven in the past to be really short term measures that don't really help address and manage the migratory challenges in a more consolidated and structural way.
Greece’s Citizen Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis emphasized Monday that the wall should not be seen as being directed against Turkey as such, but was instead a way to "boost mutual cooperation" between the two countries. Exactly how a three meters tall concrete wall and barbed wire fence will serve to further cooperation across the border remains to be seen.

As always, it is interesting to consider European media reactions. Germans, in particular, of course have experiences with big walls and Spiegel Online has a summary of some recent editorials in German newspapers, most of which are critical of the wall, and some of which are quite eloquent in their criticism. But not all. Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung (center-right) makes the EU-Turkey link and
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