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Greek immigrants remain stoic in face of German taunts

The Local · 24 Jun 2011, 12:14

Published: 24 Jun 2011 12:14 GMT+02:00

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In Frankfurt, Eviampios Betakis’ anger is unmistakable. He rails against Greek politics and the reports from back home and describes his personal feelings as, “Somewhere between frustration shame and aggression.”

The chairman of Frankfurt's Greek Community organisation, representing the 6,000 or so Greeks who live in the city, said he things are so bad in his homeland that many young people are looking for a way out.

“Every day I get a mail from above all young people who want to come,” he said.

Yet the welcome they can expect in Germany may be less than warm. Betakis is starting to get sick of the jokes and comments he hears every day, with even his friends asking him, “Shall I just give you €100 in cash now?”

As Greek’s financial problems reach a peak – and European countries are forced to pitch in billions of Euros to solve them – Germany’s Greek community feels as if it’s under attack.

To some extent, the tight-knit community understands Germans’ frustration. But it still hurts that while their homeland is suffering, they must absorb the brunt of German frustration here.

Babis Kalaitzidis who sells Greek food in Cologne said the Germans were, “... afraid because they think the Greek debt will be paid by German taxpayers.”

There is also concern and anger among Greeks about the situation back home.

“People in Greece have really big trouble, they have debts,” said Kalaitzidis, who talks of people selling gold wedding rings to get money.

Added to the worry are the biting stereotypes about Greeks being lazy, not caring about the rest of Europe, or being freeloaders.

“Greeks are not lazy. The people are industrious and correct,” said Frankfurt restaurant owner Asterios Kokkinoplitis. “As a Greek, the news hurts. One could write it differently, use other words.”

The solution? There’s no easy one except for Europeans to help Greece, they say.

Kokkinoplitis and many other many Greeks believe corrupt politicians should be blamed for the crisis that has enveloped Europe.

Story continues below…

But in the end, perhaps everyone has responsibility for what has happened, Kokkinoplitis said, explaining how his country’s entire political environment has to completely change in order to move forward.

"We're all to blame, the politicians were indeed chosen by us,” he said.

DPA/The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:18 June 24, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Love the picture - that statue appears to reflect the Greek attitude toward the people bailing them out, and how little they seems to care about the consequences of their corruption. Their government is indeed responsible, and not the average Greek, but Kokkinoplitis is right when he says "We're all to blame, the politicians were indeed chosen by us." It's a tricky situation, of course.I am glad the IMF is placing restriction on the next bailout, forcing the Greek government to introduce reforms. It's a start, even if it's highly unlikely they will change.
19:22 June 24, 2011 by MJMH
Perhaps Europe was better off without the EU and the Euro. If Greece was still Greece they'd devalue their currency the drachma and we'd all go there for a cheap holiday and soon Greece would be back on its feet.
20:26 June 24, 2011 by ryhntyntyn
MJMH - Yep. That is a problem of strong federalization. It pretty clearly shows us some of the disadvantages of strengthening the union further.

In Britain, Canada, the US or Australia, I have never met harder working people in my life than the average Greek.

I have spent quite a bit of time in Greece. I have trouble mustering too much sympathy. The place is sexist, hyperdramatic, dirty, backwards and parochial.

The fact that Greece is rotten with corruption and everyone just shrugs their shoulders, lights a cigarette and watches it go on generation after generation, is also a big old mark against them.

They spend a huge portion of the GDP on the military to guard their borders with their neighbors, who they constantly provoke, employ 40% of the population in the public sector and then wonder why it isn't working when the other half of the country can't pay the tab.

The Greeks for whom I do feel sympathy are the ones mentioned in the article. The ones who are here colonizing the Germans. Or across the channel bringing civilization to the British. Why are the best Greeks are always the ones who leave?
18:57 June 25, 2011 by george3rd
I wish to say to the Germans that we Greeks are not lazy as they think. I wish to say to the Germans that we Greeks should be blamed but blamed for what??? We have voted and elected politicians thinking that they will take Greece to the next level, the level of prosperity and a better future for all but it turned out to be the level of prosperity was for themselves and their families and friends not for the ordinary tax payer Greeks. It turned out that the politicians we elected are corrupts with no exception. Greek politicians have cheated us, Greek politicians have broken their oath, Greek politicians and their scumbag supporters have stolen our money, money meant for the country's prosperity, Greek politicians have created corruptionicracy, Greek politicians have ruined whats left of Greece. We the people did not asked from anyone to land us money, the government did, we did not asked for help from outsiders, the government did, we did not steal money from the government, the government did steal from us, we are not corrupt, the government is the one, the government past and present cannot fight corruption because they established and voted a constitution for their protection. Greek politicians are above the law, they can steal but they cannot be caught and cannot be prosecuted because they have immunity from prosecution and they are well experienced in cover up traces of their crimes. After all these scandals that came out no one was caught no one was prosecuted. They are sharks very big sharks in which they cannot be caught because they are very dangerous not to themselves but to their catchers but one day these corrupt politicians will be caught and tried and jailed with their scumbag supporters. One day they will feel the hard life the hard way inside prison cells. One day they will be haunted like dogs. One day Greeks will rise seeking justice real justice that does not exist.
20:44 June 26, 2011 by melbournite
I am sorry for the racism Greeks receive in Germany. But there are plenty of people here who are inspired by the activism of your people on the streets opposing even more draconian cuts pushed by rich people who have never known what it is like to have to work hard just to survive. The real culprits are the banks who lend money irresponsibly, the rich who fritter money away on their own bonuses and on paying lawyers to organise tax avoidance for them. What we need is a new europe for the honest working people of all our countries and we need to sideline the idle rich
08:20 June 27, 2011 by axlathi
Germans would do well to remember the generosity with which the United States and its tax payers, through the Marshall Plan, bailed them and the rest of Europe out when Germany lay in ruins after WWII - ruins caused not by profligate spending and borrowing, but aggressive war. America had the money and a strong and democratic Germany and Europe were in its interests. Isn't a strong and democratic Europe in Germany's interests? Germany is missing out on a historic opportunity to save Europe and arguably the Western world from economic collapse, which would be sure to pay dividends in Germany's long-term interests, both economic and political.
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