The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Money for Immigrant Integration

Via the Athens News

Greece has been actively rounding up undocumented people including unaccompanied minors) in recent weeks, transporting them to various detention centres around the country and preparing to deport them. Having decided to simply rid the country of large numbers of immigrants and failing to implement any kind of comprehensive and workable asylum and immigration policy, Greece has now secured 18 million euros over four years from the European special fund aimed at

pulling newcomers out of the margins of society and combating the rise of xenophobia and racism in the 27-member bloc

Forgive me for being cynical but I wonder where this money is going to be spent ?

The objectives of this multi-year programme cover the entire breadth of immigrant-integration policies,” Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told an Athens news conference on July 28.

“Emphasis will be given to initiatives targeting those [immigrant] groups that need additional support, like women, children, the disabled and elderly. We will also promote programmes and actions that will allow third-country nationals [non-EU immigrants] to work and study here at the same time.”

Greece has already received 8 million euros from the EU since 2007 to spend on immigrant integration. According to Pavlopoulos, the bulk of this funding has been spent on public awareness campaigns aimed at promoting diversity.

Yes ! I recall seeing some cute adverts and posters saying that in Greece there are “no foreigners only people”. Eight million for that ? Is anyone else aware of any programs set up for immigrant integration ? Perhaps I am being too harsh and there are some interesting projects that we don’t hear about (though I doubt it) but I think most of us who live here are aware that millions of euros of European Union funding for various initiatives across the country have “disappeared” over the years. Not just for immigrants but for infrastructure and other projects that would benefit the entire population.

The demonizing of immigrants over recent years has done so much damage and given rise to a level of xenophobia and racism that I doubt any amount of money can combat. The majority of the population will be content to see less immigrants on the streets (it’s fine for them to be in the fields harvesting crops or doing other unskilled labour) and I am seeing a significant decrease in numbers in Athens. I am also aware that securing more funding from the EU for “helping” immigrants can raise the anti-immigrant sentiment. This is not money to combat illegal entry into Greece which is what the country wants.

Where is this money going to be spent ? What kind of programs are going to be put in place ? I am anxious to find out. Is it going to be the usual “window-dressing” so that politicians can point to it and say “You see ! We are doing something for the immigrants” or is it going to be the frittering away of the funds on useless projects where no-one benefits apart from those who run them ? We have seen that there is no real desire to integrate foreigners in Greece or work on any real immigration policy. Do you think 18 million euros is going to change that ? I don’t think so…

Read the full article here

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  1. August 3, 2009    

    I, too, wonder where the money is going. In 2003, my husband repatriated to Greece and I accompanied him (he’s an American Greek) so I had a residence visa/work permit good for a year. So, in 2004, I applied for a 5-year residence visa/work permit. Because I the spouse of an EU citizen, I don’t have to pay the absurd 1,500 euro fee or be subjected to a medical exam or tell them my financial situation.

    In just two months, I joined, what looked like, 100 Albanian immigrants in the office of the county seat, and was viewed by the approval committee. In another month, I had my permit.

    This year I applied for the 10-year residence visa/work permit. I still didn’t have to pay anything, but I had to fill out much more paperwork and show proof of medical insurance and was asked about my Greek language skills. That was nearly six months ago and I’m still waiting for the permit.

    I’m sure the regulations changed because more money was approved to do the the bureaucratic process in a more professional manner – as if! The money, near as I can tell, was just eaten.

    There’s a new office now (actually there are several in the town – I went to about five different offices to get different parts of the forms approved/stamped) and they go to work on Friday but don’t see the public. What a gig!

    Having worked for the Mayor of Seattle, I can assure you that the only days we worked and didn’t see the public were those weekends that we were in the office trying to catch up.

    This is a hard place to love.

  2. Xenos
    August 3, 2009    

    Integration of immigrants does not require money: it requires good laws and good management, both of which are entirely absent in Greece. The money, of course, is feeding directly into Greek politics and corruption. There is no need to wonder about where it is going.

    Of course, there will be some window-dressing, to try to fool stupid people into thinking that it is a serious effort. For the most part, the money will (a) employ Greeks to do fuck all, but express their support for immigrants (they will be ND voters, of course); (b) subsidise institutions/events that are a complete waste of time and money but bring votes to ND; (c) allow, with creative accounting, embezzlement of moneys.

    I repeat, the integration of immigrants does not require money. It’s the Greeks who require money.

  3. Travlos Konstantinos
    August 3, 2009    

    The money will either be eaten, or once immigrant numbers are sufficiently low, used to integrate them. That way the government gets both, assuage public xenophobia by lowering the numbers, and then play it sensitive by using the money to integrate the left-overs.

  4. kat
    August 4, 2009    

    Hi DD,

    Just wanted to give you this:

    ?? ???????? ??? ?????? ?????????? ?????? ????? ????, ???? ??? ??????????

    The banks don’t give home loans to the Roma…

  5. September 2, 2009    

    How true this article is.