Perhaps U.S. President Donald Trump gave his Greek counterpart some ideas during the latter’s recent visit to Washington DC.
The Greek government, led by center-right Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced plans to install a floating wall to keep refugees and migrants from arriving on Greek frontier islands.
According to a procurement order from the Ministry of National Defense, Greece wants install a 2.7 kilometer-long floating fence (1.7 miles) off the coast of Lesvos, the island that has become the main arrival point for tens of thousands of refugees and migrants.
Greece’s Defense Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, defended the action in a radio interview, claiming that the barrier– which will be 1.5 meters tall (approximately 5 feet) and 60 centimeters (almost 2 feet) submerged under water– will serve as a deterrent to incoming rafts from Turkey.
But the government officials were practically the only ones defending the action.
Nikos Andrianos, an engineer from Melbourne, Australia who has experience working with oil containment barriers called the plan “ludicrous” and “laughable,” saying that “a two mile long barrier across a coast line that is hundreds of miles long is a drop in the ocean.”
“And this is what happens when you have fools taking positions in government that impact people’s lives,” Andrianos told The Pappas Post in an email.
“The plan is ludicrous and laughable and any elementary school student can tell you that if there’s a short barrier in your way, you simply go around it,” Andrianos continued.
“Not only is this Trumpist grandeur at its best,” Andrianos wrote, “The idea is not feasible from an engineering perspective and this government will become the joke of the world thinking that this short barrier will deter desperate people and ruthless smugglers from coming into Greece.”
The Greek newspaper Efsyn called the move “racist inspired,” while human rights watchdog Amnesty International slammed the decision, calling it an “alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for refugees to arrive on its shores.”
“This proposal marks an alarming escalation in the Greek government’s ongoing efforts to make it as difficult as possible for asylum-seekers and refugees to arrive on its shores and will lead to more danger for those desperately seeking safety,” said Amnesty International’s Research Director for Europe Massimo Moratti in a statement.
He added that “The plan raises serious issues about rescuers’ ability to continue providing life-saving assistance to people attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Lesvos. The government must urgently clarify the operational details and necessary safeguards to ensure that this system does not cost further lives.”
A Tweet from BBC reporting the news received dozens of negative comments, criticizing the Greek government for its decision.
One Twitter user named Evgenios Tzavaras spelled out the statistics of the Greek border with sarcasm.
“15,147 kilometer of total coastline of Greece and a floating barrier of 2.7 kilometer that New Democracy will build. In other words, we “protect” .17 percent of our sea borders. Tremendous success, right?”
“Trump has burned your brains,” said another user.
The project is expected to cost €500,000 ($551,000)and could extend 13 to 15 kilometers, with more parts being added if the first phase is successful.
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