OPINION

Multicultural society

August is generally the month when Greeks discover their own country – not just in the geographical but also in the broader social sense. Those Athenians who had the good fortune to remain in the capital the only month of the year when it is actually tolerable must have frequently felt like a racial minority in a colorful archipelago of immigrants who do not have the luxury of going on holiday. And it is quite probable that those who escaped to an island for their vacations stayed in rooms owned by a German national and were waited upon by Russian staff. An interesting study by MRB reveals a picture of immigration in Greece which is very different to that created by widely propagated stereotypes. For instance, Albanians account for about half the immigrant population while the remainder is made up of migrants from eastern Europe, Asia, and from Arab and African nations. In contrast to our tendency to blame migrants for much of the crime we see, two-thirds of immigrants live in Greece with their families, speak good to fluent Greek, have full-time jobs and pay insurance contributions to IKA. But the chief revelation in the study is that the majority of migrants are satisfied with their lives in Greece, despite the problems they face, are striving to secure their place in Greek society, and would like to remain in Greece for many years or even permanently rather than to move on to a richer country in the industrial north. This informal but reliable poll on foreigners who work hard in this country justifies a certain satisfaction. Indeed, a migrant-exporting state for many decades, it appears that Greece has succeeded, at least until now, in absorbing the intense social and cultural shock caused by a sudden influx of immigrants, without any of the backlash, the creation of a ghetto culture and the racial tensions that other more developed countries have had to deal with. But it is not a good thing to rest on one’s laurels – especially for a country like Greece which is located on the porous barrier between the haves and the have-nots in the modern world – that is, the Mediterranean. There is no doubt that however strict the crackdown on immigration may become over the next few years, it is a growing phenomenon and Greece will be transformed into what in the West is known as a «multicultural society.»