Beyond racism, there is also a love-hate relationship towards migrants and refugees independent of their ethnic background on an international level. I fear that they have always been and will always be scapegoats, victims of political exploitation. They are easy and vulnerable prey.
The love relationship arises not only from the relatives left behind who benefit from the generosity of migrants and refugees but also from their employers in the new country, who often find in them a workforce willing to accept lower wages than the locals.
The hatred comes from those struggling to make ends meet, the unemployed, and others who see them as competitors, blaming them for their problems.
Regardless of the actual facts, opinions are crystallized, immovable, and as is often the case, discussions are based on passion rather than facts.
Group opinions diverge, and the tones of discussions become intense as they turn to this topic. At a recent gathering someone insisted that, “without migrants, the U.S. would never have reached the economic level it is at now.” They pointed to their own parents as an example, who left their village for New York. They knew no one, knew nothing, and didn’t speak the language. Yet, within a few years, they opened two restaurants, bought a house, educated their children, and helped their relatives in Greece. How did they achieve this? Through a lot of hard work, of course.
Why shouldn’t Greece do the same with migrants and refugees, who, in any case, live there and will continue to leave their countries due to wars and poverty, seeking a better life? Another member of the group added a different perspective: “Do you know why the price of olive oil in Greece has skyrocketed? It’s not just the weather conditions; mainly, it’s because there are no workers to harvest the olives.”
Greeks are unwilling to do the job, while many, like the Albanians who did this work in previous years, have left Greece for countries like Germany and elsewhere. Consequently, many producers struggle to find hands for harvesting, as those willing to work demand 60 euros per day.
Some even believe that we might soon see olive oil selling for 200 euros, while last year the average price was 80-100 euros. The third member of the group had a completely opposite opinion. He would ‘seal’ the borders and ‘throw into the sea’ those who managed to enter the country.
While this theory may sound ‘patriotic’, it overlooks some basic parameters. Firstly, no state, despite politicians’ promises when in opposition, throws people into the sea. Secondly, it is infinitely more beneficial to integrate them into society – give them residence permits, employment, education, etc. – rather than having them in the country without any constraints.
Thirdly, Greece is facing a significant demographic problem, with projections of a devastating population decline – but just as our children born in America become Greek-Americans, the same will happen with the refugee children in Greece. A prerequisite for this is monitoring those who are legally naturalized.
You don’t welcome criminals into your country. However, good, law-abiding, hard working people can contribute a lot.