Between the lines

One is easily tempted to pin the blame for acts of violence against economic migrants from Albania on a small minority of ultra-nationalists, extreme rightist or neo-Nazi groups, racists, xenophobes or soccer fanatics. It’s much harder to acknowledge the truth that a minority in Greece holds a negative view of Albanians – who often become the target of their aggressive behavior. The recent violence in the aftermath of a soccer clash between the Greek and Albanian national teams was, theoretically, sparked by a specific event. In truth, however, it confirmed what is normally evident in everyday life: A large number of Greeks treat migrants from Albania as people worthy only of contempt who should demonstrate their gratitude at being able to make a living in the country where they arrived. This mainstream view can be heard in coffee shops, taxis, and in conversations among youth or old men. This perception is so widespread in our country that it renders its exploitation, as it were, by a small group of racists, ultra-nationalists and an even greater number of fuming soccer fans only a detail in the broader picture. Every Greek should answer the question: How many of our compatriots, even those who sincerely condemned the violence which erupted last Saturday, thought it was provocative and unacceptable that Albanian migrants dared celebrate the victory of their national team? There are very specific reasons why Greek society has developed this sort of relationship with its Albanian migrants. Unless we see this reality in its true dimensions, we will not be able to build a new relationship with migrants from Albania on the basis of what is provided for by our Constitution.

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