Greece’s debt crisis is a human crisis.The economy’s demise has come with the rise of the extremist Golden Dawn party, which is seen as a modern day Nazi party. Even their symbol (see right) resembles the swastika.
Reports have proliferated of immigrants being harassed and beaten by Golden Dawn members as police turn a blind eye.
In a new piece for Project Syndicate, George Soros proposes a way to help not just migrants, but all struggling Greeks He was reminded of one World War II hero:
To that end, I recently established an Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). In doing so, I recognised that the best place to start would be where current policies have created the greatest human suffering: Greece. The people who are suffering are not those who abused the system and caused the crisis. The fate of the many migrant and asylum seekers caught in Greece is particularly heart-rending. But their plight cannot be separated from that of the Greeks themselves. An initiative confined to migrants would merely reinforce the growing xenophobia and extremism in Greece.
I could not figure out how to approach this seemingly intractable problem until I recently visited Stockholm to commemorate the centenary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth. This reawakened my memories of World War II – the calamity that eventually gave birth to the EU.
Wallenberg was a hero who saved the lives of many Jews in my home city of Budapest by establishing Swedish safe houses. During the German occupation, my father was also a heroic figure. He helped to save his family and friends and many others. He taught me to confront harsh reality rather than to submit to it passively. That is what gave me the idea.
We could set up solidarity houses in Greece, which would serve as community centres for the local population and also provide food and shelter to migrants. There are already many soup kitchens and civil-society efforts to help the migrants, but these initiatives cannot cope with the scale of the problem. What I have in mind is to reinforce these efforts.
Soros writes about how the EU’s existing policy is a failure, and many Greek migrants are left to “live on the street are attacked by the hooligans of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party.”
“As soon as possible, I will dispatch an OSIFE needs-assessment team to Greece to contact the authorities – and the people and organisations already helping the needy – to work out a plan for which we can generate public support,” wrote Soros. “My goal is to revive the idea of the EU as an instrument of solidarity, not only of discipline.”