News / Europe

    Increasing Number of Greeks Flee to Turkey For a Better Life

    Crowded streets in  Istanbul (File Photo)
    Crowded streets in Istanbul (File Photo)
    Dorian Jones

    Development might seem remarkable considering that Greece and Turkey have been rivals and almost on the brink of war at various times

    With the Greek economy deep in recession, some Greeks are now looking to neighboring Turkey -  in particular Istanbul - for the chance of a better life. A remarkable development considering the relations between the two have been marked by alternating periods of mutual hostility and reconciliation ever since Greece won it independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.  

    Eleni Varmazi is drinking a coffee in a cafe, taking a rest from her job teaching at one of Istanbul's numerous private universities. Varmazi is one of a growing number of Greeks who has found work in Istanbul.

    "I applied in the UK, in Ireland , in Brussels in the European Union, in Cyprus for many positions, and here also. I am very happy with my jobs with my students , I was looking forward to teaching Turkish students and everything is going great on this level. It is even more convenient than trying to find a job in London or in Berlin. It's closer you can go back for weekends. I know two or three people who have moved here and found a job here, and I am sure their a lot more," she said.

    Varmazi's story might seem remarkable considering that Greece and Turkey have been rivals and almost on the brink of war at various times. But Varmazi's story is no longer that unusual.

    Ionis Grigoriadis is an expert on international relations at Bilkent University. I met him in Fener, the ancient Greek quarter of Istanbul, where he has bought a house. Grigoriadis says the fact that a growing number of Greeks are coming to Istanbul is proof that relations between the two countries are improving.

    "We are no where close to the very difficult circumstances of the late 90's where the two countries came to the brink of war. Students from Greece come to Istanbul to learn Turkish. In the last year a very popular TV series from Turkey attracted a very high rating in Greek TV, which shows that the very low resolution view of Turkey is changing. That people understand Turkey is many things of course there are dark sides like in many countries. So things are moving to a more balanced approach," he said.

    At the opening of an exhibition celebrating Greek architecture in Istanbul, a first for the city, Greek not Turkish is the prevailing language. Laki Vingas is a senior member of the city's Greek community. He says the community was on the verge of collapsing but believes its now turned the corner.

    "They had a target time until their children were graduating from the high school and then the whole family was leaving. That's why from 100,000 people we are now left 3,000 people. Everybody used to say not their identity, not to mention their Greek Orthodox of Turkey, so they were trying to hide their name, their religion their identity. Where as now they are saying this openly. Unfortunately it was very bad century , the 20th century. So we feel the 21 century is a turning point for us," he said.

    At Istanbul's Zografen Greek High school, an English teacher is preparing her class for their final exams. There are only four pupils. The large high school has less than 100 pupils.  But where in the past, upon graduating, pupils would leave for Greece, now pupils want to stay - like Natasa.

    "I want to become a translator at university in Turkey , because I was born here, I am living here. I love Istanbul.  I have friends here and to left for them. I want my future here," she said.

    There are no official figures on how many Greeks are working in Istanbul, but the numbers are believed to be small and growing. Along with the ongoing economic turmoil in Greece and Turkey's burgeoning economy,  analysts believe Istanbul will be a destination for an increasing numbers of Greeks. After all, the name "Istanbul", stems from the Greek word for "I go to the city".

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora