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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 2 July 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 JULY 2016 23 GREECE UK Greeks rush for citizenship In the wake of Britain's decision to leave the EU, Greek nationals who call the UK home are reassessing their options and taking urgent legal advice on their status in the country. Greek national Aristotelis Tsallios, who has lived in London for 18 years, told the BBC this week that he contacted a migration lawyer "as soon as the referendum result came out on Friday". Mr Tsallios said he would PHOTO: MIKE SWEET. Anastasia Magelaki (R) spends every European summer working as a taverna manager and chef in Crete. Raised in Melbourne, Anastasia is worried that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have a negative impact on Greece. Britain’s own-goal Michael Sweet reports from Crete on the Greek reaction to Brexit British tourists flock to the sun-kissed Greek islands in June, swarming in on packed flights and cut-price air fares, relieved to have escaped the usual great, grey British summer. This year they had the Euro 2016 football tournament to spice up their annual pilgrimage, but whatever the fortunes of the British teams, their European holiday will always be remembered for one historic event - the Brexit referendum result. I learned of it on a picture-perfect morning in a seaside village in the south of Crete. At a waterfront cafe, a British family were noticeably reflective as the waiter brought them their coffee, orange juice and yoghurt with honey; not a good omen I thought. An hour later, the shocking news was confirmed. A British couple in their youthful early sixties - he from Somerset, she originally from Germany, spoke to me of their sadness and no little anger. "We can't believe this has happened," she says, "I was in tears when I found out." In the small grocer's shop that sells homemade jam where our conversation takes place, the dismayed Brits find little sympathy from the proprietor. "In Greece we should do the same," says the middle-aged shopkeeper. "The EU is not good for any of us." While that pessimism may be understandable to hear in Greece, it's not one shared by many Greeks, who see Britain's exit as profoundly disturbing, leaving the EU weaker, the spectre of the politics of the extreme-right spreading, and the EU even more controlled by Germany and France. For many the psychology of the decision - to divorce Britain from Europe, to walk away from a shared future, is what hurts the most. Restaurant manager Anastasia Magelaki, who runs a beachfront taverna at Petres Geraniou on Crete's north coast, says Brexit is bad news for the local tourism industry, with Greece likely to become more expensive for the British. "It's a worry," says Ms Magelaki, who in the Australian summer swaps Crete for Melbourne, where she works as a chef in Oakleigh. But she says she understands why Britain chose to leave the EU, and thinks other countries will want to do the same. "The EU works for people who have money. It doesn't work as it should," says Magelaki, who believes Greece would be better off out of the eurozone. "If they put it to a vote in Greece we'd leave the euro and leave the EU too. Young people are leaving, they can't find jobs, and it's getting worse." The Greek Australian mother of three fears that without Britain at the table, Germany will dominate the EU more than ever. "It would be better if the UK had stayed. I want to travel to England, my children do too. Now it will be more difficult." Given that immigration was the single biggest issue in the minds of most Leave voters in the UK, Magelaki's response reflects her own experience. "When I was young I remember my mother telling me I was a migrant to Australia. "We should help the migrants coming to Europe, and we should do it together." Greek domestic tourism sees drop as taxes set to rise Hoteliers and travel agencies have experienced a drop in bookings from domestic travellers this summer compared to this time last year, reports Kathimerini. The slump, which has been attributed to the impending increase in taxes, is expected to extend right through to August, when the majority of Greeks are known to take time off. Though those in the travel industry have their fingers crossed for a last-minute change of heart, this could be based on false hope, with taxes set to spike at the start of the month. Those lucky enough to take a holiday are doing so for shorter periods of time, and are looking to reduce their regular holiday spending budget with special offers and discounts. According to head of Halkidiki hoteliers Grigoris Tasios, reservations being made by nationals have dropped from between seven to 10 days to just five days this season. "very hastily" try to apply for citizenship to stay in Britain - the country that has given him three clinical science higher education degrees and the chance to open his own business consultancy. "I never thought I would need British citizenship, so I never applied for it. Now it looks like I have to do it," he said. "I'm sure now the applications for a citizenship are going to skyrocket. "In order to be on the safe side — and not wait until any legislation changes — I will apply as quickly as I can." Mr Tsallios said he had experienced the "division the referendum has created in this country" within hours of the result being announced. He described one experience at a London train station as shocking. "Some guy was coming out of the train, he started pushing people and shouting 'f*** off, my country. We don't want you anymore. Don't you understand that? Enough already'," he said. "I was in shock because [in my] 18 years in London I have never heard someone speak openly like this in front of such a huge crowd. "It was the first time in 18 years that I actually felt like a foreigner or someone who's unwanted." Piraeus Port deal with Cosco faces uncertainty Chinese shipping giant Cosco has pushed the brakes on the Piraeus Port deal, accusing the Greek government of altering fundamental parts of the agreement. The company issued a statement to privatisation agency TAIPED, claiming that the bill that was submitted to Parliament earlier this week did not adhere to the agreement reached on April 8, and that it was in fact completely overturned and in turn unacceptable, reports Kathimerini. "Cosco expects the government and TAIPED to imple- ment what they signed on to in the presence of the prime minister," stated Cosco. The deal was expected to be ratified this week ahead of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' arrival in China on Friday. In an address to Parliament, Greek shipping Minister Theodoros Dritsas admitted to the discrepancies, however he defended the government's right to make amendments. "The government will look into it, it will look into the objections and will probably consider making im- provements," he said. One of the changes noted was the requirement for the Greek state to approve project licensing within 90 days, a significant detail, which if not included in the agreement the company says could likely change the amount it bids for a project, or even discourage the submission of a bid. The deal, which if all goes ahead as planned will see the sale of a 67 per cent majority stake in the port, is a vital move for Greece in its current economic state, believed to be the catalyst needed to kick-start growth. Conservatives lead SYRIZA in pulse poll A new pulse poll has revealed conservative party New Democracy is leading SYRIZA by 6.5 per cent. Commissioned by television station Action 24, the poll shows the conservatives in front with 30 per cent, followed by SYRIZA with 23.5 per cent and Golden Dawn at 6.5 per cent, reports Kathimerini. Equally-placed fourth on 5.5 per cent were PASOK and the Greek Communist Party (KKE), followed by the Union of Centrists with three per cent. Meanwhile To Potami, Independent Greeks, Popular Unity and Sailing for Freedom were ranked below the threshold required to be eligible to enter parliament, each coming in with under three per cent of the vote. The opinion poll also re- vealed New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis to be ranked as the most suitable political leader to lead Greece with 29 per cent, ahead of current prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who had 22 per cent of the votes. It is worth noting, however, that an overwhelming percentage of 44 per cent answered "none of the two". Participants were also asked about their thoughts on the recent Brexit vote and the possible impacts it would have on Greece. Though 41 per cent expressed that they thought the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union would have negative implications, 20 per cent saw it as a positive.
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