Contrary to what Antonio Samaras keeps assuring, not everything is going well in Greece. As a matter of fact, a lot of things are going quite wrong. In a country where the youth unemployment rate has reached a dismaying 66%, it is only with sarcasm that one can refer to the overall situation as a “success story”.
Giving a voice to those young Greeks who normally remain unheard was the motivation for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) to organize a dialogue programme for Greek youth activists in the cities of Nuremberg, Cologne and Düsseldorf. Six young people from Athens, Thessaloniki and Samos took part in it, each of them with a stirring life story and the drive to change their country as well as their personal lives for the better.
During the first two days of their stay in Nuremberg, the participants met with mayors as well as civil society actors from Greece and Germany at the IV. German-Greek Assembly (“Deutsch-Griechische Versammlung”, DGV). As part of the DGV, four participants took part in a panel discussion organized by the FNF where they vividly described the professional and social hardships they are facing in contemporary Greece.
In Cologne the group met with liberal members of the city council and was welcomed by Manfred Wolf, Mayor of the City of Cologne. Since some members of the delegation – despite their young age – are already active in local politics, several issues about youth politics on the municipal level were tackled. In Düsseldorf, Greek Consul General Grigoris Delavekouras welcomed the participants and explained the everyday problems which he as a representative of Greece in Germany has to face on a daily basis. Afterwards Henning Höne, the youngest member of the state parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia (“Landtag”), spoke about youth involvement in politics and discussed ways how to foster it. The day ended with a public debate in Cologne about the situation of young people in Greece.
“Hearing about the fates of those young people who would like to change their country for the better, but simply do not get a chance to do so, strongly affected me”, Dr. Joachim Stamp, Vice-chairman of the FDP group in the state parliament, concluded afterwards. “Those young people demonstrate that there is a generation of young, liberal-minded Greeks who would like to put their country on a different track, and this is something that gives me hope for the future.”
Maybe in a couple of years, the often-quoted Greek “success story” will have become a reality. But if so, it will be due to the proactive and well-educated generation of young Greeks rather than the ruling caste of statist and clientelist politicians.