Γράμμα από ένα Τούρκο φίλο
Έλεγε τις προάλλες στη Βουλή η πολιτικός πως ντρέπεται τους τουρίστες για το χάλι της χώρας μας και πως όταν τους συναντάει στο δρόμο σκύβει το κεφάλι. Εγώ έχω πολλούς φίλους στο εξωτερικό που επισκέπτονται συχνά την Ελλάδα γι’ αυτό ζήτησα από ένα Τούρκο να μου πει τη γνώμη του ως τουρίστας. Θα ακολουθήσουν κι άλλες απόψεις.
Time in Greece
When I first went to Athens in 2001, it was an ideal tourist destination. Acropolis, Poseidon Temple, Plaka, those nice sites offered me very colourful touristic moments and…boredom. I returned back to Greece in 2007 and then again 15 times in five years afterwards. Country started to transform in front of my eyes. All the elections, street demonstrations, Syntagma tent city, power transfer to Papademos, I was there.
I always had the feeling that people were vocal, trying to change things, but nobody was being heard and nothing was changing, if not for worse. Apart from very few exceptions people did not have good opinion on Albanian immigrants, but Athens was becoming more and more like Tirana everyday. It was obvious that illegal immigration was turning into an epidemic problem. However, although numbers of Africans and South Asians were increasing, greek government didn’ t do much to mitigate the problem.
Alarm bells for the Greek economy have been ringing for sometime, but positive atmosphere of power shift from ND to PASOK before and after the elections covered the graveness of the issue like a white fluffy cotton-like-cloud. How bad it could go? After all, Greece was an EU member and since it was in euro zone, surely EU friends would be more helpful. But the locomotive EU friends proved to be merciless. Greece was suddenly l’enfant terrible of Europe and the entire world was quickly turning to be cynical: Greeks were declared to be lazy, corrupt, uneffective and getting retired at the age of 40-that was harsh and unfair!
In my 17 visits to Greece during a decade I haven’t met any retired Greek of 40 years old. On the contrary I have met many Greeks who were still looking for jobs at the age of nearly 40. I haven’t met anyone who came back from work at lunch time, on the contrary they were working really long hours for mediocre wages. Let’s say parties distributed governmental posts as election bribery, however, even if that was the case, how could anyone ask a country to dismiss them immediately?
Greeks are cultivated, happy people, they like going out. In the beginning of 2008 I was telling my friends that the only crisis I had ever witnessed in Greece was to get a table at Poseidon Str. to watch Kostas Martakis or Giannis Plutarkhos. As years went by, I started noticing the decline in restaurants, clubs, marinas and cinemas. Greece went from sending superstars like Sakis Rouvas and Anna Vissi to Eurovision Song Contest to picking up unknown names from talents shows. Then again, I watched ‘Pina’ by Wim Wenders on its opening day in Athens on Easter Monday and the movie theatre was completely full, while one week later in the same film’s opening day in Ankara we were 9 people in the cinema. Ticket for the film was 13 euro in Athens, 4.5 euro in Ankara.
As an outsider, the most scary things for me in Greece are the new taxes, property taxes, electricity bills, solidarity taxes and sharp decline at the minimum pay. Since people are losing their jobs as fast as a speedlight, how on earth can those new taxes be paid?
I come from a neighbouring country, and, despite the problems, I am positive that everything will eventually pass. Athens Biennial in 2008 was called «Destroy Athens». Over the years Athens has been destroyed a few times, so the austerity measurements should consider not to destruct but build up things again. The world should remember that this is a county with humans, human needs, and things can work only as long as they are humane and suitable to the Greek dignity. Bitter pills doesn’t necessarily heal the illnesses-time and patience have a better ability to heal than drugs.
Even Kazantzakis said: Truly, everything in this world depended on time. Time ripened all. If you had time, you succeeded in working the human mud internally and turning it into spirit. Then you did not fear death. If you did not have time, you perished. This is my finale and reading suggestion for the Germans.
2 March 2012, Ankara
+το φωτογραφικό του βλέμμα πάνω στην Αθήνα