Wednesday, 17 July 2024 19:59

Syriza Victory Brings Hope for Immigrants of EU Access

Monday, 26 January 2015

Rokan Mondal, who says he spent six months walking from his native Bangladesh to Greece in 2008, believes Alexis Tspiras will ensure that he doesn’t have to go back.

Mondal, 23, was among a crowd of hundreds who turned out to cheer Tsipras as he arrived at Syriza party headquarters in Athens late Sunday after his election victory. He said he hopes a Tsipras-led government will make it easier for him to acquire Greek citizenship. At the moment, he has a card that lets him reside in Greece only and not elsewhere in the European Union.

“I believe I’ll get the passport,” Mondal said as he mingled with a handful of other Bangladeshis who rushed forward as Tsipras appeared. “Then I can think about Italy, Germany, Spain.”

Mondal encapsulates some of the expectation both at home and abroad that falls on Tsipras. His party, also known as the Coalition of the Radical Left, ousted the government implementing austerity, while the anti-immigrant far right party Golden Dawn placed third.

While the shape of a Syriza government has yet to be determined, Tsipras faces a challenge in implementing his party’s campaign pledges, from winning a write-off of Greek debt to creating 300,000 jobs and raising the minimum wage by 30 percent.

“He’ll have to compromise with the Europeans,” Kostas Talambis, 75, said between broad smiles after yelling his support for Tsipras. “But he won’t make the same compromises as the others who cut pensions and wages and raised taxes.”

Seeking Justice

Talambis, a retired mechanical engineer, said Tsipras, 40, will be able to overturn such economic injustices carried out by the outgoing coalition of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s New Democracy party and the socialist Pasok, while working with Greece’s euro-area creditors.

“He’s young and strong,” Talambis said.

While most attention has focused on Syriza’s stand against budget austerity that breaks with the Samaras government, it will also promote a “common European immigration policy with obligations and rights,” according to Dimitrios Papadimoulis, a Syriza member of the European Parliament. That includes seeking more EU financial help to manage Greece’s porous borders.

In doing so, it will join a Europe-wide debate about controlling immigrants whose swelling numbers have emboldened nationalist parties across the continent .

Nurul Absar, a Bangladeshi who says he spent 18 months in prison in Greece between 2012 and 2014 because his temporary residency permit expired in 2009, was more cautious about the prospects of gaining Greek citizenship under Syriza.

 “We still don’t know what Tsipras will do for us,” said Absar, 35, who arrived in Greece from Turkey in 2005. “Samaras didn’t help us. We hope for better.”


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