The railway to nowhere


The Channel Tunnel remains closed for the 4th consecutive week, as migrants from the Jungle refuse to remove their encampment from the railway lines.

French police distributed leaflets urging people to move on, arguing that France loves them, and asking them to fight together British demands for borders to remain closed.

The financial impact for both countries is severe, with businesses suing both state authorities and Eurotunnel for its inability to perform its contractual obligations. Eurotunnel itself is suing both governments. In the meantime tonnes of perishables are rotting away in railway platforms all over the north of France.


Exactly! Wouldn’t you be horrified if you turned on BBC Breakfast and listened to this? You would probably think the French have gone mad, and they are unable or unwilling to control basic aspects of security in their territory. You wouldn’t know which is worse, the inability, or the unwillingness.

Yet, this farcical situation is what Greece has allowed to developed in the border crossing of Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia. This village is the main railway crossing to the north. Tracks go from Greece through the Balkans to Europe via this route. Alternate railway crossings via Bulgaria necessitate a significant detour and cost an alleged extra 6000 Euros per wagon for freighters to reach Austria.

The Greek railways (state-owned) are suffering massive losses due to the line closure that has been going on and off for months, and has been continuously blocked for the last 3 weeks. Freighters are planning to sue the railway company, and the government. Many have diverted cargo through non Greek ports.

What is the problem you may ask? The problem is that refugees and migrants stranded in Idomeni, waiting for the borders to open, have camped on the railway line to put pressure on the Greek and Macedonian authorities to open the border.

What has the Greek government’s response been? To ask them politely to move. Leaflets have been distributed (there and in the port of Pireaus) asking people to move on, stressing the good will and brotherly love of the Greek authorities. The police has largely been absent from the chaotic camp in Idomeni, which is run by charities and NGOs with minimal help (or even the presence) of the Greek state.

Why don’t the Greeks do anything about this you ask? The answer is revealed in the statement of Mr Mouzalas (minister for migration) yesterday in Parliament. Residents of the camp are intentionally left in dire conditions, “so that their desperation leads to positive outcomes for us (Greece)”. Yes, this is what he said. People are left to suffer, in the cold, in the mud, with children catching deadly diseases so that they are convinced by their own suffering to move on. Move on to what? To the ‘reception centers’ where conditions are hardly better (but where is at least food). Mouzalas added that “order will come to chaos”, on its own apparently. Very philosophical for a Parliamentary session.

I described in a previous post why Greece might be sliding towards a Failed State. Syriza and their partners ANEL are doing a good job getting her there.

abandoned train



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