The Faces of EU – Greece

For this interview, let’s go to war and sunny Greece, where we interview a student from Athens. Let’s see what Estonian young people know about it!

Do you know anything about Greek domestic/foreign policy?

31%: yes

69%: no

“economic crisis”

“so many protests”

“debt, debt, debt”

“Chinese port scandal”

As we can see, the thoughts are mostly negative, so let’s hope this interview can shine a light on the true state of Greek politics!

Tell me about yourself. Are you an active community member? If yes, why do you feel it’s important? Is it a normal thing in your country/community to do so?

I am a university student and I am studying International Relations in Athens. I am not really active in my community in the sense that I partake in political parties or participate in any sort of raising awareness for any particular issue.

How is youth activism organised in your nation and what is the role of the EU in it?

Youth activism is a matter I don’t really have too much knowledge about. Most of the youth activism comes from activism through political parties in university, while other youth activists go on marches when they want to raise awareness of an issue or when they are disappointed by something in the country. From what little knowledge I have I cannot say what role the EU has played in the matter if any at all.

The EU is like a great driver that has lost all control of their car. They don’t really know where it is heading but once they regain control, they are unstoppable

How do people in your country perceive the EU? How do politicians?

Young people in my country were born in a phase where Greece has already been integrated with the EU. They are quite divided when it comes to the EU. Some believe in it because of what the EU has offered Greece ever since Greece joined in 1981, and others feel that the EU has disappointed them and the world. Politicians in general are supportive of the EU as an international organisation and when it comes to its ideals and goals. 

What does the EU mean for you personally?

The EU to me is an organisation whose true potential has still not been discovered yet. As a Greek diplomat once told me: “the EU is like a great driver that has lost all control of their car. They don’t really know where it is heading but once they regain control, they are unstoppable.”

How would you describe your country to a foreigner?

I would describe my country as a country with a rich culture and civilisation with amazing cuisine and life in general. To me, the nightlife is unlike any other I have seen, but I cannot really point out what makes it stand out to me. My country obviously has problems that have no end, but probably because I am used to them, they do not outweigh the good.

What do you hope for your country to achieve or develop in?

I hope my country becomes one that makes its people truly love it for what it is, not what it is supposed to stand for nor what it once used to be.

How will you contribute to achieving this goal?

It is not a goal that can be achieved by an individual’s efforts but by a coordinated effort. Besides, not everyone is ready for such a change and certainly, not everyone is willing for that type of change.

How can the EU contribute to the prosperity of your country?

As it already has, through investing in my country. Also just because it is small and both economically and politically irrelevant does not mean it should be ignored and tossed aside.

What do you think the EU will look like in 30 years?

What Europe will look like in 30 years might be different from what I hope it looks like. I hope that in 30 years Europe will be more independent from NATO and be a force to be reckoned with in the worldwide political, economical and military landscape. However, I fear Europe will continue to cling to NATO and the US.

Have you ever felt fear living in Greece considering you have an unpredictable neighbour Turkey and Erdoğan who has threatened Greece that their missiles can reach Athens?

As a Greek, yes I have felt threatened by Turkey constantly challenging the Greek borders with its aircraft. However, many don’t believe Turkey is actually planning to invade or attack Greece in any way, seeing as they are both NATO members. What gives Greece the upper hand, though, is the fact that it is in the EU, while Turkey is a candidate country. The real question that arises in the Greek citizens’ minds is whether Greece being in the EU really gives us the upper hand against Turkey.

Greece is often seen as a poor EU country with a lot of debt. Is it obvious when you think about your life in Greece and compare it to someone’s life in another EU member state?

Yes, the difference between Greece’s way of life and that of other countries exists, but I would not say it is drastic. I know that the cost of living here, the minimum wage, as well as the prices of many products, are drastically lower compared to other richer EU countries. It is something to be expected, though, seeing the difference in the countries economies. Something to note about Greece is that even though mainland Greece’s prices and cost of living are drastically cheaper than other countries, the Greek islands’ respective prices and cost of living are completely different. Many Greeks like to say that life on the Greek islands is what modern Greek life is supposed to be like, particularly because some of the Greek islands are major travel destinations for people all around the globe and the costs are very high, even by EU standards.

Image: Aleksandar Pasaric, Pexels

The Faces of EU campaign is sponsored by the German Embassy in Tallinn.

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