Greek Chronicles

GREECE, 01/09/2012 (WIP)

This selection of images is part of an ongoing long term research, aiming to narrate the profound changes that Greece has experienced in recent years. 

Since 2010, the Hellenic peninsula is facing a regime of economical austerity, imposed by the European Union as a condition to receive new loans, essentials in order to pay public expenses and debts contracted with various European banks.

The consequences of these politics, are having a tremendous impact on many levels, permanently modifying the perspectives of social and territorial development of the country.

The dramatic impoverishment, coupled with the necessity to relate with phenomena of global character, created in Greece a situation without historical precedents, capable of showing all the gaps and contradictions that the current European Union brings with itself.

Due to its geographical position, and as a consequence of the Arab Springs and the Syrian conflict, Greece is, in fact, facing an unprecedented wave of immigration, with an estimated 400.000 asylum seekers entering the country every year.

The impossibility to face this humanitarian crisis alone, and the lack of support by other EU countries had an important role in the radicalization of political forces, bringing in the elections of 2012 to the victory of the right party Nea Democratia, that behind a moderate appearance, conducted strong austerity politics, and backed by the neo-nazi party Golden Dawn, drove the attention of the public opinion toward the migration issue.

Soon after being elected the Government created a new police force, named "Xenios Zeus" (lit. "God of acceptance"), with the task to identify and expel all migrants not having the right to ask for political asylum.

Firmly condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who reported numerous cases of human rights violations, the operation resulted as a complete failure, with only 15% of the identified migrants resulting "illegal" in the country.

In January 2015 the country went to anticipated elections that resulted with the win of the radical left party Syriza, guided by Alexis Tsipras. The new Government immediately tried to renegotiate the debt and obtain better conditions in the loans. The negotiation lasted for months and its failure brought Greece close to a financial breakdown in July 2015. 

The crisis is having strong environmental consequences as well. Like the impossibility for Greece to start converting its coal energy production (75% of the entire energy produced) into a more sustainable one, and the consequent plan of the government to build a new coal power plant, partially financed by various German bank groups (KFW Bank Group), that will be ready in 2020, condemning the region of Kozani to maintain its European primacy in CO2 emissions. 

Or in the region of Halkidiki, where in 2012 the Canadian company El Dorado Gold obtained a mining permit in order to start a low cost gold mine project, that will radically change the development of the entire region; transforming its economy from agricultural and touristic to heavy industrial, despite the fierce opposition of the local population.

Greece has objective responsibilities for its financial condition. Corrupted and unqualified administrations played a decisive role in bringing the country at the current state. But the financial crisis, and the impossibility for Greece to solve it, are also consequences of ineffective policies applied by the European Union during past years. A community of countries can’t exclusively be based on a common monetary system, and not consider the enormous geopolitical and social differences existing between the countries themselves.

I strongly believe the events that will invest Greece in the next years will be crucial for the future of the European Union.