Belfast Telegraph

We speak to two Greeks living and working in Northern Ireland

'Uncertainty is taking toll on people'

By Claire McNeilly

Georgios Emmanuel Maravelakis (39) is half-Greek and half-Danish. He is a chef and co-owner of Dollakis restaurant in Enniskillen. He has lived in Northern Ireland for 12 years but still has family in Crete, whom he visits every year with his wife Sarah (40), 13-year-old son Jack and daughter Georgia (7).

He says: "I hope the situation is going to be resolved, but personally I think it's going to take a lot to fix things in the long term. I would like to retire in Greece, but there's plenty of time for that. It would be very hard to make a living there at the minute. It's sad to see what's happening in Greece and we can feel the difference when we go there now, compared to years ago. The whole mood is very different. The people always used to be very happy, but the last couple of times we were there it was as if the uncertainty of what is happening was taking its toll. You can feel that people aren't as carefree as they used to be; they're feeling the pressure. It's a big blow to the national psyche.

It's very hard for anyone to know what should be done. My personal view is that we maybe shouldn't have joined the euro in the first place. I'm still not sure how I would vote in the referendum on July 5. I'm 50-50. It's very possible that Greece could exit the euro. That might have to happen. It's very hard to know what to do for the best. Hopefully it won't leave the single currency, as that will ruin the whole idea of the euro."

'If I was back there, I'd be voting No'

Dr Ioannis Tsioulakis (34), is a lecturer in Anthropology at Queen's University Belfast. He is originally from Athens but has lived in Northern Ireland for eight years. His mother and father still live in the Greek capital.

He says: "I think it's very positive that there's a referendum, so I'm very happy with that development. I suppose everybody is very uncertain about the result and what a potential 'No' would mean, because a 'Yes' would just mean a perpetuation of the same policies. I don't personally believe there's any chance that Greece is going to leave the euro, but if there was a chance that it was going to exit I think this could potentially be a very good development. I'm one of the people who has been following the economists who are saying that Greece might be better outside the eurozone where there could be better development opportunities. My personal opinion is that Greece has been living in increasing financial, social, and political devastation since 2010. Salaries and pensions are disgraceful for a European country, unemployment is rising (and has reached a stunning 60% among the under-25s), and even those who have jobs feel extremely precarious.

The majority of Greeks have very little to lose at this stage and they realise that. Even the Grexit fears are diminishing, the reasoning being that there's little difference between having no euros or no drachmas. Greek people are also becoming extremely angry at the EU elites. If I was in Greece I would be voting a firm 'No'."

Belfast Telegraph


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