War in Iraq has altered Greek youngster’s values

The war in Iraq drew young Greeks back into the family fold, judging by the results of a recent public opinion poll. Images from the front in the recent war had a powerful effect on Greek youngsters, highlighting the strength of traditional values in Greek society. Career and money are usually drawing points for the young, but a poll of 15-24-year-olds conducted in Attica by MWG ALCO for UNICEF and AKMI-IDME College showed that they now value family, solidarity and friendship most highly. Their response to the war shows that young Greeks are laying claim to dreams for a more just society. They are impressed by television and interested in the news, while recognizing that it may be staged, as well as being well aware of what lies behind media methods in the digital age. And most of them are convinced that economic interests lie behind wars. Though frequently castigated for being indifferent, apolitical and lacking any other interests beyond acquiring money easily and having a good time, young Greeks participated passionately in the recent anti-war demonstrations. The poll was conducted April 2-7, during the recent war in Iraq, and showed a clear return to traditional values. Asked about the most important values, 41 percent cited family, 27.9 percent friendship and 11 percent solidarity. By contrast, career and money, which pollsters say used to dominate such surveys, were deemed less important, with only 7 percent choosing career and 4.5 percent money. Displaying promising signs of maturity, 90.2 percent of those polled said they were interested in what was happening in Iraq; 5.3 percent said they were a little interested and only 2.7 percent said they were completely indifferent. Asked to select one of four reasons for the war on Iraq, 91.5 percent said it served the economic interests of the USA, 3 percent cited religious reasons, 2.7 percent believed the reason was to combat terrorism and 2.3 percent said it was to bring democracy to Iraq. The war appears to have played a role in making young Greeks more aware of their role as citizens and in their ability to bring about change. About 72 percent of those questioned said we could do something to stop the war; 41.8 percent preferred to participate in protests rallies, and 30.1 percent believed the best way was to boycott American products. Almost one in four (23.7 percent) claimed that the public cannot stop the war. Their responses show a generation that is aware and wants to be engaged in social and political developments. Their keen interest in what was happening on the war front led young Greeks to look at the news more carefully. Television was by far the most popular source of information on the war, and there was a striking trend for them to choose state television’s calmer, more substantive broadcasts on the war, which attracted 46 percent of those questioned, compared with 17.5 percent before the war. Privately owned television channels also gained viewers among the 15-24-year-olds surveyed, with 36 percent watching them during the war, compared to 29.4 percent before the war. Newspapers lost readers among those polled (from from 19.4 percent to 6.2 percent) as did radio (from 12.4 percent to 6.3 percent). Similarly, only 3.4 percent considered friends and family as reliable sources of information during the war, against 20 percent beforehand. The majority surveyed (60.4 percent) agreed that Greece should accept refugees from Iraq. Half of those polled (50.1 percent) did not fear a terrorist attack on Greece, 38 percent did fear such an attack and 11.9 percent did not know or did not reply. While 89 percent see the invasion of Iraq as unjust and illegal, 70.1 percent had a negative view of Saddam Hussein, 20.1 percent held a positive view and 9.8 percent gave no response. The survey The poll was conducted in Attica by MWG ALCO for UNICEF and AKMI-IDME College from April 2-7 2003. The sample was of 600 people aged 15 to 24, selected at random in locations where young people meet. The survey was carried out by personal interviews.