ATHENS – With an exodus of the country's best and brightest and young fleeing austerity - Greek Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA Alexis Tsipras said he hopes hiked research funds would lure back scientists.
Greek scientists have made names for themselves around the world and the country has a reputation for producing some of the most notable in the field, but many left, unable to find work during an economic crisis, fed up with a clientelist state rewarding the politically-connected or feeling underpaid and underappreciated.
During a visit to the National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos, Tsipras discussed with scientists the topic From Brain Drain to Brain Gain, the Chinese news agency Xinhua said, citing a press release his office as the Premier rarely speakers with reporters or holds news conferences.
rain drain to brain gain", according to an e-mailed press release from his office.
The government has increased research and development monies in the past four years aimed at helping scientific efforts and giving scientists a reason to stay instead of getting big salaries in other countries such as the United States, Germany and United Kingdom.
Six in 10 Greeks who live and work abroad wish to return to Greece, according to a survey of the National Documentation Centre that collects and preserves scientific and cultural content and data in digital form, the news agency said.
Those who do want to come back cited the overall quality of life in Greece, even though it has deteriorated because of big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings. Some 42 percent cited the wish to be close to their families as the main reason, according to the survey published by Greek national news agency AMNA.
The key prerequisite for 44 percent of expats to return to Greece is a good income, while 36 percent said that they would come back only if they could find jobs in their fields of specialization, particularly science.
According to data from the central Bank of Greece, some 427,000 Greeks have left the country in the past decade. Half of them were highly educated and qualified youth.
In the peak of the crisis in 2013, Greeks aged under 25 faced unemployment rates of 60 percent.
The figure dropped to 39.5 percent in December 2018, according to the latest data from Greece's statistics authority, but more needs to be done, Tsipras said, without saying what it is.