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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid