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How expats experience “three years Greece in the crisis” (Part II)

Here is another post written by a KTG-reader on the topic “how expats experience the Greek crisis”. In fact it was a comment to my post “23 April 2010 – 23 April 2013: Greece under IMF – Not saved yet?“. But AntonisX – a Dutch – has a very good insight of the Greek crisis and had to move his business back to his home country. Due to the crisis? Almost…

Below the post by AntonisX:

“Three long and hard years. Yes, KTG, the only positive thing is the friends found through all this…

What galls me most about these years is that so many people were deliberately plunged into misery by their own countrymen just to safe those 1,5 – 2 million who were pillaging and plundering this country in the first place… Decent people, who always paid what they owed the state and their creditors are the ones who bore the brunt of these austerity measures.

No real fundamental reform has taken place up to date. No civil servant has lost his job for life. The tax-system is still the same and just working for those in the know. Unions are protecting their own privileges over the shoulders of the workers they should represent. Red tape is still stifling every effort and creativity. What were those figures a couple of weeks ago? 20% of Greeks do not feel any real effect of this crisis… Unbelievable but so telling how things stand in this country…

Three years after Kastelorizo… My business did survive. No, not my Greek business. That we had to close and reopen it abroad. Not to avoid taxes. Just to be able to pay taxes in a legal way! To get health insurance and pension rights for less then half what you have to pay here. To be able to change a great idea into a profitable business without having to fight civil servants and their state all the way into ruin…

At the moment I am back in Greece. We have some jobs to do here. We will bring in money to local businesses and give our clients a once in a lifetime experience. One you can only get here in this wonderful country with so many wonderful people. But we will have to cross our fingers that no strike, no civil service, no idiotic action of the government will ruin that. (It took us a whole day to work out what the arrangements will be now May Day will be on May 7 and Unions still will strike on May 1st) We also have to work hard to pamper over the now blatantly open racism that seems to spill over in so many places.

Three years. For most of us who are not part of the nomenklatura things have changed dramatically. And still the nomenklatura fights for it’s privileges over our backs. And yes, with the apparent help of the foreign creditors. Papandreou is replaced by Samaras. He who was as guilty as the former in totally derailing this country manages to keep the status quo for his peers and pals. He is doing a great job for the oligarchs and we will have to pay more and more to keep their privileges in place.

You see, I am struggling to a positive end to this reply… but I just don’t see it. I just fear that the bottom still is not reached. And I see no clear road up. And yes, that brings tears to my eyes…”

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One comment

  1. As another ex-pat living(?) in Greece for the past five and a half years, and before that visiting Greece regularly for 20 years, and married to a Greek with all of my wife’s family here, I can certainly sympathize and empathize with Antonis’ perspective. To put things in a nutshell, I am heartbroken at seeing the Greece I have come to know and love literally falling apart at the seams–deteriorating not only economically, but socially and communally.
    The stratification between the haves and the have-nots is nowhere else so apparent as in Greece today. On the one hand, you have ‘fat cat’ members of parliament earning enormous salaries (and sometimes two and three different salaries from different government posts held simultaneously), and not doing anything to make sacrifices of their own; and you have those few privileged insiders living large and taking advantage of the crisis for their own personal gain; and on the other hand you have people trying to eke out a miserable existence on paltry pensions of 300 euros a month, while others line up at Church-sponsored soup kitchens, or fish in garbage dumpsters, just to have something to eat. In all the years I have been coming to Greece, never in my wildest imagination would I have dreamed of seeing the scenes that have become commonplace over the last few years. It is horrifying. What is even more horrifying is the willful blindness that some Greeks–the ones who have not been touched by the crisis–seem to be exercising so as not to see what is plain before the eyes of the world.
    But here is where I think we have to make a distinction. The nature of the ‘crisis’ for them is very different from what it is for the average person. For a certain class, the ‘crisis’ is a political one. It is a crisis of Greece’s place in the European clubhouse. It is a crisis of respect–of their own ability to rub elbows with the power elites of all the other EU countries and snicker blithely at the ignorance of the masses. Theirs is not an economic crisis, it is an ego crisis.
    Meanwhile, for the majority of the people, the economic crisis is very real and has quickly morphed into even more deadly forms: psychological, spiritual, familial, health, and for some even existential. Just looking at a few of the headlines on this blog says it all. Juxtaposed right next to “Greek ex car racing champion commits suicide due to economic crisis” and “Cases of Greek starving children increase”, we see the governor of the Bank of Greece assuring us that “Greece is gradually exiting economic crisis”. Yes, well, maybe if “Greece” is defined as those 1% or 2% who never felt the crisis to begin with…
    Like my fellow ex-pat whose post I am responding to, I regret being pessimistic, but I also see no real light at the end of this tunnel. What I do see is not only a lost generation, but a much more consequential loss for Ellada. It is a loss of identity. The Ellada that emerges from this ‘crisis’ (and forgive me for saying, this manufactured crisis) will not be the same as the Ellada that we knew before–and I don’t mean that in a good way. Some may say that this crisis was necessary to clean things up; and heaven knows there were a lot of things that needed to be cleaned up. But unfortunately I do not see anything of the kind going on. The only thing that is being “cleaned” is the beauty of the culture of humanity, philotimia, solidarity and philanthropy that once typified this beautiful land. In the end, we will be left with an empty and superficial replica of what was once Greece, filled with the cynicism and self-serving values of the elites who brought us into this crisis in the first place.