"European democracies in the Mediterranean are in danger of being swept away by a tsunami of uncontrolled immigration. We cannot allow this. Our societies cannot stand it. The European Union itself cannot stand it... [More than] one million 'foreigners' passed then  through Greece and ended up in various countries of the European Union, mainly in Northern and Central Europe. Some of them were real refugees, from Syria and Iraq. But most of them were illegal immigrants from other countries of the world. Today it is estimated that the true refugees that are still coming are 20% of the total or fewer. The rest are illegal immigrants."
These illegal immigrants, he said, "come to Europe looking for 'opportunities,' but do not accept any of the responsibilities of an open democracy."
"They usually engage in all kinds of smuggling: Drugs, trafficking, and even 'jihad.' We cannot allow that. Freedom and the openness of our societies also entail responsibilities. And full respect to our laws, of course. 'Moochers' of our democratic system can destroy it."
During the month of September, when the conference took place, another 4,000 illegal immigrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands, overwhelming local communities ill-equipped to receive them. Yet absorption is only one of the difficulties Greek authorities have been facing. Equally, if not more, problematic is the concern that terrorists posing as asylum-seekers may be among the masses flowing into the country.
In September 2017, another 4,000 illegal immigrants and refugees arrived on the Greek islands, overwhelming local communities ill-equipped to receive them. Pictured: Migrants arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey in a rubber dinghy, on August 15, 2015. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
According to reports in the Greek press, they have good reason to suspect this is happening. Since the beginning of the migrant crisis in 2015, when it emerged that ISIS-trained terrorists were infiltrating Europe from Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere, Greek police have been monitoring some 80 makeshift mosques that have sprung up in the greater Athens area. Aside from the fact that none of these houses of worship is legal -- the first official mosque in Athens since the end of Ottoman rule 150 years ago is under construction and is expected to open its doors only in the coming months -- some are also affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
This infiltration of terrorists is undoubtedly among the reasons for a police drill being conducted throughout October in Athens. The drill, dubbed "Tyfonas (typhoon) II," involved members of Greece's elite special forces and anti-riot units simulating terrorist attacks, such as vehicular-rammings, shootings, stabbings and bombings in urban areas.
Nevertheless, in an interview with the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) -- in the aftermath of the August 17 terrorist attacks in Spain, where 14 people were killed and another 120 were wounded -- Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas, from the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza), rejected the notion that Greece, which he reportedly referred to as a "pillar of stability in Europe and the Mediterranean," could become a target of ISIS. He said that terrorism could only be defeated through peace in the Middle East.
Toskas, like fellow members of the political echelon and intelligentsia in Greece, are making the same mistake as their European counterparts in relation to Islamic imperialism. As terrorist attacks across Western Europe have illustrated, appeasing radical Muslims through open-border policies -- and by surrendering national identity to multiculturalism -- has the opposite of the intended effect. Allowing unfettered entry, rather than causing the immigrants to integrate and liberalize, and leading to friendly ties with Muslim-majority countries, has instead led to their further radicalization.
Professor Manos Karagiannis of King's College London and the University of Macedonia said in a recent interview that Greece should stop being under the illusion that its good relations with the Arab world will shield it from jihadist attacks. "We shouldn't be complacent," he said. "The Islamic State no longer chooses its goals based on each country's foreign policy."
"Jihadists are ideologues," explained François Heisbourg, IISS Council Chair at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies. "They see the world as a battle between believers and unbelievers," and therefore no one is "immune" to their agenda.
Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece. She has a post-graduate degree in "Geopolitics and Security Issues in the Islamic complex of Turkey and Middle East" from the University of Athens.