Syriza’s capitulation to the troika has made the plight of refugees even worse.
|Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea in 2014. UNHCR / Flickr|
Last year, the attempt of Greece’s newly elected radical-left government to resist austerity policies imposed by the European Union institutions and the International Monetary Fund put the country at the center of world attention. This battle was definitively lost when Alexis Tsipras capitulated in July to the demands of the creditors, signing up to a third memorandum only days after a referendum in which Greeks had rejected a softer EU proposed austerity package.
Since that moment, the plight of Greek society has only deepened. But it is now a silent suffering, deprived of the expectation of change and hope that had fueled the mobilizations of recent years.
But 2016 again made Greece headline news, this time for a different reason. The laboratory of neoliberal shock therapy is also Europe’s entrance gate for the millions of people leaving countries devastated by war and poverty.
The refugee crisis has illuminated how “Fortress Europe” acts as the complementary side of a neoliberal, deeply antidemocratic, and authoritarian “European integration.” It has killed the hopes of a left which believed it was possible to break from neoliberalism within the framework of the EU, as “European values” became an alibi for the display of imperialist violence and hypocrisy.
The Mediterranean’s role as the graveyard of Fortress Europe — and southern Europe’s role as its guards — is not new. The “externalization” of the EU border started in the early 1990s and acts as the indispensable supplement to the “free movement of capital, goods, and people” inside the EU — with the movement of “people” always posing the most problems.