How Europe is dealing with its refugee influx is emblematic of a deeper crisis on a continent that has forgotten its core values, Alexis Tspiras, seeking a second term as Greek prime minister, said last night.
Tspiras, whose country has become a gateway to the European Union for the thousands of refugees fleeing Syria, was scathing about Europe and particularly Hungary for failing to address one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades.
“When the Mediterranean turns into a watery grave, and the Aegean Sea is washing dead children up on its shores, the very concept of a united Europe is in crisis, as is European culture,” Tspiras told crowds during a rally in Athens on Friday night.
The left winger is seeking re-election in national elections on Sunday. His main challenger is the conservative Vangelis Memarakis of the New Democracy party.
Tspiras repeatedly clashed with his European peers over terms of a multi-billion euro bailout, portraying it as an ideological crisis of capitalist greed against public welfare.
Unlike some of its EU peers, Greece has not stopped the procession of migrants through its territory. But Tspiras said refugees should consider which Europe they would find themselves in.
Would it, he said, be the Europe where a baker on the island of Kos distributes loaves of bread to refugees, or the Europe of Hungary’s prime minister “building fences and distributing bullets”.
“If a united Europe only respects rules of fiscal discipline … and leaves each member state to its own devices in a major crisis, this is not a Europe of its founders, and nor can it have a future,” Tspiras said.