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The contribution of Europe in Greece

Νίκος Καραγιάννης

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With the incredible political developments here in Greece i was wondering what I could write today. In this situation, I feel that the only thing I could say is a reference to what is Europe for Greece and what has made this Europe in Greece through my own memories.

In my early childhood i was going to a school, a municipal  three-story building, very old, with rooms like boxes without insulation, without proper foundations course in double shift and even a store housed on the ground floor.

A few years later this “school” building stopped working as it had been built in another school, with money from EU, the first Community Support Program (that was the title). Until today in Greece schools are constructed with money from Europe.

Around the same time, I remember my sister with her husband to go regularly to the place of his origin, in a village outside Lamia a place 215klm northern of Athens. Well then, you had to drive for 5 hours to reach its destination in a road quite dangerous.

A few years later, the time distance was reduced to two hours as part by part the old national road had been replaced with a new safe highway. This was done over a period of 12 years by using 3 different programs with money from Europe.

In the same years, a trip to Tripoli city (in the center of Peloponese) required  at least 5 hours. Thanks to european money has constructed a new highway and the time-distance reduced to 1,5 hour.

A few years later, when i was teenager I began my acquaintance with the center of Athens, but because I was living in the southern suburbs, was using buses, we did not have underground (Metro). During my acquaintance with the city and the districts, I used one train line, the “ilektrikos”. With dirty docks, without modern services, noisy lines and old trains,  one line from Piraeus to Kifissia.

Then in 2000 came into our lives, here in Athens, 2 metro lines, together with the the refurbished “ilektrikos”, became part of our everyday life. These lines continue to grow even today. These lines serve hundreds of thousands of passengers every day thanks to the billions of European money that came into my country.

In my 20s, in 1997 I made my first trip to Europe, to London. I used the Athens airport a small airport with a very small building. When I arrived at Hithraw i was amazed. It was an abyss between the two airports.

When I returned it was raining, that old cramped airport made me ashamed because the ceilings dripped and foreign visitors looked surprised. In 2001 it opened a new airport in Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos and a motorway, Attiki Odos, partly with European money changing forever our journeys and travel, with two ornaments in Attica.

In the list of my little ‘autobiography’ I could add many more examples of how European money created infrastructures in Greece such as hospitals, Universities, judicial and police mansions, roads all over Greece, drains, dams, museums, squares etc. ALL with European money.

What was the image of Greece in 1975 and what is now, 40 years later is obvious. We may not understand it in our daily lives but its a fact. It is a transformed country which is a proud member between 28 countries of European Union.

Let’s look through the eyes of history this country before 1980. How was it? No infrastructures, no social infrastructure. Why?

The answer is: because we had no money apparently make these things happen. The contribution of Europe in Greece as well as the contribution of Greece in Europe is undeniable. What we have for granted, socially, politically, economically, culturally is because we are firmly tied to the chariot of Europe.

Older people certainly remember how we were and how we are now in terms of infrastructure. The youngest found these infrastructures. Because what is for granted today, schools, hospitals, roads, the subway etc, is Europe’s contribution to this country.

If we want to see the future and what we will see? With European money we will have more schools, hospitals, sewers, highways, completion of modernization of railways etc. If anyone ask me if Europe is one perfect continent i would say of course not.

If anyone tell me is Europe infallible? Ofcourse not. Is people here in Greece suffering? Defenetilly! This acquis is in our hands and everyone of us can decide what Greece wants for the its future. Personally im very proud that over the years, I saw my country changing, I became part of its history and I would like this proudness continues to exist in my mind and my soul.

Nikos Karagiannis-ypodomes.com
n.karagiannis@ypodomes.com

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