Monday, January 3, 2011

Integration? What integration?

The fact that a large and increasing number of people enter and stay in the country makes their integration more difficult. Moreover, the fact that the vast majority of these people originate from countries outside the EU is a factor that further impedes integration. Finally, bearing in mind the relevant experience of other European countries such as the UK, France and the Netherlands, the fact that the vast majority of these people comes from Muslim countries will hamper any effort for their integration. Integration will not take place also because the vast majority of immigrants in Greece entered the country illegally and have been ex-post facto regularized. Thus, the stance of the native population towards them is very negative. High criminality of immigrants and the ghettoization of several parts of Athens city center only enhance this negative stance. According to a recent poll by Kapa Research16 51.6% of Greeks consider immigrants as “a threat” and only 30.6% as “an opportunity”. Moreover, 79.3% of Greeks believe that immigrants who live in this country are “too many”. Furthermore, an extended survey in 2007 indicated that Greeks have the most negative feelings towards Albanians, who constitute by far the largest ethnic community.
Thus, it should not come as a surprise that significant parts of Greece’s immigrant population (even of second generation immigrants) do not seem to integrate in Greek society. A recent study by the National University of Athens18 indicates that the majority of first generation immigrants and a very significant minority of second generation immigrants (40-50%) have difficulties integrating.
Finally, integration efforts are also offset by the fact that unemployment among foreigners is much higher (and rising) than among Greeks. According to the National Statistics Service Labor Force Survey for the first trimester of 201019, unemployment was higher among people of foreign nationality than among Greeks (14.5% and 11.4% respectively).

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