Greeks Exodus, Now and Then, Harbingers of Others Future? – Written 05/30/2012

“With more than 50 percent of young Greeks out of work, it’s not surprising that official statistics show the number of Greeks who moved to Germany increased 90 percent during 2011. ”

“Unemployment rates have consistently been shrinking in Germany in recent years and the economy is thriving despite Europe’s ongoing financial crisis. Relaxed cross-border employment regulations for member states of the European Union also make Germany an attractive choice for job seekers. And while Germany is in need of specialized workers, the Greek labor market has little to offer.”

“According to Germany’s national statistics office, some 24,000 people left Greece last year to live and work in Germany, almost double the number who did so in 2010. However, Der Spiegel quoted Hamburg-based immigration expert Vassilis Tsianos as pointing out that those figures did not include people who had not registered with German authorities. Tsianos told the magazine he estimates that 60,000 new Greek immigrants arrived in Germany in 2011.

There was also a significant spike in the number of immigrants relocating to Germany from other economically depressed southern European countries last year, with official statistics showing an increase of 52 percent from Spain, 28 percent from Portugal and 23 percent from Italy.”

“Wiesbaden-based Ruecker is actively recruiting technical engineers from Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, offering them a two-month paid language course followed by an open-ended contract with a guaranteed base salary of about $4,500 per month.

“There are simply not enough qualified applicants on the German market,” says Thomas Aukamm, who works for Ruecker’s marketing and recruiting department. “These are investments that we need to make in order to secure the workforce that we work with in the future.”

The company has received about 3,500 applications, mainly from southern European countries, and is presently evaluating about 500 of them.

“Even if we could only fill 10 percent of the open positions, we would be very happy,” Aukamm added.”

“Leaving everything behind with an uncertain future was difficult, of course, but I was seeking stability and believe that I can find it here in Germany,” says Paschali, who is originally from the rural town of Trikala.”

Greece’s national unemployment rate presently stands at nearly 22 percent overall – German tabloid BILD has depicted Greeks as “lazy” – and widespread protests against the government’s austerity measures continue. However, an estimated 70,000 engineering positions remain unfilled at the moment in Germany.”

“”Germany’s skilled labor shortage could have severe economic consequences,” said Dr. Ina Kayser of the the German Association of Engineers (VDI). “We estimate that the labor market could face economic losses of up to 7 billion euros, or nearly $10 billion, as a result of, for example, production delays or necessary relocation of production abroad.”

Other German business sectors are also starting to look abroad.”

“Today most of the remaining Greeks in Turkey live in Istanbul. In the Fener district of Istanbul where the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is located, fewer than 100 Greeks live today. A handful also live in other cities of Anatolia. Most are elderly.

Another location where the Greek community lives is the islands Imbros and Tenedos near the Dardanelles, but this community is diminishing very fast and only 200 elderly Greeks have remained there, less than 2%. In the 1950’s, an estimated 98% of the island was Greek.

The so-called Antiochian Greeks (Rum) living in Hatay, Adana and Mersin are actually Christian Arabs. In fact, they speak or spoke Arabic as a mother language, and that is why they were excluded from the exchange and were able to stay in Anatolia. They do not speak Greek at all, the younger generation speaks Turkish, and they have Turkish names now. Their population is about 4000-5000, and they are faithful to the Patriarchate of Antiochia in Damascus.

The Greek minority continues to encounter problems relating to education and property rights. A 1971 law nationalized religious high schools, and closed the Halki seminary on Istanbul’s Heybeli Island which had trained Orthodox clergy since the 19th century. A later outrage was the vandalism of the Greek cemetery on Imbros on October 29, 2010. In this context, problems affecting the Greek minority on the islands of Imbros and Tenedos continue to be reported to the European Commission.”

“In July 2011, Istanbul’s Greek minority newspaper Apoyevmatini declared that it would shut down due to financial difficulties. The four-page Greek-language newspaper faced closure due to financial problems that had been further aggravated by the economic crisis in Greece, when Greek companies stopped publishing advertisements in the newspaper and the offices have already been shut down. This ignited campaign to help the newspaper. Among the supporters were students from Istanbul Bilgi University who subscribed to the newspaper. The campaign saved the paper from bankruptcy for the time being. Because the Greek community is close to extinction, the obituary notices and money from Greek foundations, as well as subscriptions overwhelmingly by Turkish people, are the only sources of income. This income covers only 40 percent of the newspaper expenditures.”

“This was followed in September 2011 by a government cash grant of 45,000 Turkish Liras to the newspaper through the Turkish Press Advertisement Agency, as part of a wider support of minority newspapers. The Turkish Press Advertisement Agency also declared intention to publish official government advertisements in minority newspapers including Greek papers Apoyevmatini and IHO.”

“As of 2007, Turkish authorities have seized a total of 1,000 immovables of 81 Greek organizations as well as individuals of the Greek community. On the other hand Turkish courts provided legal legitimacy to unlawful practices by approving discriminatory laws and policies that violated fundamental rights they were responsible to protect. As a result, foundations of the Greek communities started to file complaints after 1999 when Turkey’s candidacy to the European Union was announced. Since 2007, decisions are being made in these cases; the first ruling was made in a case filed by the Phanar Greek Orthodox College Foundation, and the decision was that Turkey violated Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which secured property rights.”

“A government decree published on 27 August 2011, paves the way to return assets that once belonged to Greek, Armenian, or Jewish trusts and makes provisions for the government to pay compensation for any confiscated property that has since been sold on, and in a move likely to thwart possible court rulings against the country by the European Court of Human Rights.”

“Since the vast majority of properties confiscated from Greek trusts (and other minority trusts) have been sold to third parties, which as a result cannot be taken from their current owners and be returned, the Greek trusts will receive compensation from the government instead. Compensation for properties that were purchased or were sold to third parties will be decided on by the Finance Ministry. However, no independent body is involved in deciding on compensation, according to the regulations of the government decree of 27 August 2011. If the compensation were judged fairly and paid in full, the state would have to pay compensation worth many millions of Euros for a large number of properties. Another weakness of the government decree is that the state body with a direct interest in reducing the amount of compensation paid, which is the Finance Ministry, is the only body permitted to decide on the amount of compensation paid. The government decree also states that minority trusts must apply for restitution within 12 months of the publication of the government decree, which was issued on 1 October 2011, leaving less than 11 months for the applications to be prepared and submitted. After this deadline terminates on 27 August 2012, no applications can be submitted, in which the government aims to settle this issue permamenetly on a legally sound basis and prevent future legal difficulties involving the European Court of Human Rights.”

“The recent Greeks arrivals in Germany include 27-year-old IT specialist Vasileia Paschali, who decided to bid farewell to Greece’s political and economic turmoil and arrived in the quaint southern German city of Boeblingen nine months ago. She didn’t speak a word of German.

“The most difficult thing was learning German, it was terrifying at the beginning,” Paschali told NBC News. “Life is so quiet and structured here in Boeblingen, which is quite a contrast to the hectic routine I experienced in Athens.”

She responded to a job offer from German engineering development supplier Ruecker, a company which mainly services the automobile and aviation sectors.”

“A lingua franca (or working language, bridge language, vehicular language) is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.”

“The language policy in the European Union is both ineffective and hypocritical, and its ideas of linguistic equality and multilingualism are costly and cumbersome illusions. Why have these illusions been kept up for so long? First, because the French with their traditionally superior position in Europe cannot accept the decline of their own linguistic power, second, because the politically-correct ideologies of some sociolinguists constantly fuel opposition against the idea of English as a European lingua franca and third, because powerful translators’ lobbies fight for their raison d’ tre. In the name of the high ideal of linguistic equality a time-consuming, expensive and increasingly intractable translation machinery is maintained that is doing its best to translate the illusion of equality into illusions of multilingualism and translatability. ”

“In fact, it is even claimed that a European variety of English, sometimes labelled “Euro-English”, is in the process of evolving to serve as a European lingua franca. As yet, however, this new variety of English has not been described, largely because it is at such an embryonic stage in its evolution. All we can say with any degree of certainty is that English as a lingua franca in Europe (ELFE) is likely to be some kind of European-English hybrid which, as it develops, will increasingly look to continental Europe rather than to Britain or the United States for its norms of correctness and appropriateness.”

“However, if currently, Europe’s lingua franca seems to be  English, not so long ago, the lingua franca of Eastern Europe was Russian (and sometimes German, depending on the proximity of a country to Germany as opposed to Russia).”

“If we applied the first past the post system, German would be the sole language of the European Union, being the mother tongue of the greatest proportion of the EU population (18 per cent), although far from an absolute majority (source: Wikipedia).”

“However, the European Union has wisely opted for both language rights for citizens and supporting actions to promote language learning (multilingualism). These questions, as well as the missed opportunities through dumbing down TV and film soundtracks by dubbing, have been discussed in three previous Grahnlaw My Europe Week blog posts.”

“Now is the time to look at linguistic matters from a different angle: Is there and should there be a lingua franca in the European Union? ”

“The Wikipedia article Lingua franca offers us a starting point for discussing a bridge language or a working language for speakers or readers with different mother tongues.”

“Here is a rough summary based on European political and cultural history:”

“Having been the language of the Roman Empire, Latin became the language of the Catholic Church, of learning, Courts and diplomacy. It survived as the first language of Western European diplomacy until the 17th century, and beyond that as part of a classical education well as the language of science.”

“With France at the height of its power, French became the first language of diplomacy, the preferred language of European Courts and of the nobility. (French was probably understood as well at the Court in Saint Petersburg as in France outside the Parisian region.) ‘

“Through the British Empire and the later rise of the USA, English has risen to prominence far beyond the confines of Europe. For the first time there is something approaching a world (second) language, if we take all speakers and readers into account.”

“Wikipedia describes English as the required international language in communications, science, business, aviation, entertainment, radio and diplomacy – crucial areas for global interaction and human progress.”

“Even if we embrace the EU’s aim to learn at least two foreign languages, should we universally opt for English as one of them?”

“Two additional questions:”

“Why do we start teaching children foreign languages so late, long after they have lost most of their ability to learn multiple languages almost effortlessly?”

“Why do our schools not generally use native speakers as teachers of foreign languages?”

If we are talking reconciling politics and business transactions of the future, maybe, Europe should, use English as Lingua Franca, and, as a triglossia regime of trilingualism, use Arabic, Chinese (Mandarinn) and Russian………….;+)



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