Monday, January 30, 2006

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

A letter to the editor from last weeks Athens News. I HAVE lived in Greece for 20 years. I am an artist, musician, poet and actor. I have taken every legal path to legalise myself. I became a Christian Orthodox. I married a Greek, twice. In 2002, I submitted my papers to renew my Green Card. At the time, new [undocumented] people were being granted the right to legalise their status and all of us were put into one sack. My name never came out when I asked about my application. I was told they were giving priority to the newcomers. Why? I am still waiting. Why? I have been sent in circles from one office to another. And when I asked why football players and dancers get their papers on time, they said they are another category. Well, shall I put on lipstick and silicone breasts and shake my body in some club so to get my permission? Is this the only way? People who have been living here for 10, 15 and 25 years and even longer have rights under the law to get at least permanent residence, not to mention nationality. Many of them are working at building sites, factories and farms. They have lived here for half their life but are still abused by the state. There are bosses who won't pay for their social security. We are all victims of the state. We demand our rights. We must go to the European Court of Human Rights. Elderdiry M Fadul Athens This is not an isolated case. I have heard of many complicated stories just from among my friends who have tried to renew papers, get residency or work permits and or (long, long story) to gain citizenship. Before anyone writes a comment, this is not only a problem in Greece. Immigrants face equally drawn out, baffling procedures in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Can anything be done to simplify the system and allow those who are legally here or wish to apply for legal status to get through the bureaucracy?

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At 1/30/2006 07:07:00 PM, Blogger melusina said...

Lol, I filed my application (for a residence permit) when I first arrived in 2002. We moved three times since then, and updated our info with the office. When we arrived in Thessaloniki last summer, after following up for 3 years, they finally said they lost my paperwork.

Well, that is nice, but it cost me 35 euros to get a "validated" copy of my passport at the U.S. Embassy. I don't intend to pay more money to get my paperwork finished. In short, they need to find my paperwork, or be prepared for a war. It isn't like Greece is the optimum place for ME to be living. I can go back to the U.S. and be quite damn happy, perhaps even have a career.. But because my husband is beholden to the Greek army for the next 20 years, I don't have a choice.

Greece needs to accomodate ME. I don't care what anyone else says. I'm sick and tired of bullshit, the laziness, and ineptness of Greek civil servants. Is there a mite of inbreeding going on in the civil service pool, or what?

Yes, this comment is excoriating, but I'm fed up, and this hit a sore spot with me.

 
At 1/30/2006 08:06:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Hey mel,I'm so glad you said it and not me. LOL. "Greece needs to accomodate ME. I don't care what anyone else says. I'm sick and tired of bullshit, the laziness, and ineptness of Greek civil servants" I am so sorry that you have got to this point. Angry and feeling trapped? I find it sad that we (all of us who find ourselves here, for whatever reason) who love this country, eventually get crazy because of the bullshit. Adding my voice at the risk of being shot down. Wake up Greece. You are driving us away. And I don't mean just ex-pats and foreigners but Greeks as well.

 
At 1/30/2006 08:49:00 PM, Blogger adfjkaj said...

Well, the "Scruffy American" hasn't had any problems with Adia Paramonis over the years. They always handle me smoothly, and although the renewals take some time, never had any problem with those folks at the counter or the supervisors. But, Mel, I did have to pay that 30.00 Euro fee to the Embassy to verify a passport or something. That sucked! Why does our Embassy charge us for that!!!

However, in other parts of the city where other American friends live, I've heard the following:

- One guy's wife died years ago, and they needed an updated death certificate because the old one somehow wasn't valid anymore. My friend said, "Christ, my wife only died once, why the hell would I need a second death certificate". Well, I guess they felt sorry for him, and magically they accepted the first one again for his renewal. (he does have children here and so he used them for his permit now)

- Second case is another American I met who is recently getting his paperwork started and they are running him through the goat rope paper chase, and he's a bit worried because they need his marriage certificate translated, and a few other docs that he doesn't have right now. His 3 month stay ends soon. So, he may have to leave and come back. Thank God the Greeks are at least kind to Americans and allow us to come back. I've heard some countries aren't allowed to come back just by leaving for a day.

- And finally, the last case is one I read about in Athens News for a few years now. Poor guy trying to get his Greek citizenship but somehow when he was born (in Greece) they messed up his paperwork by misspelling his father's name or something. Many years and dollars later, I think he's still trying to get the citizenship.

- And P.S. one really funny Greek-American guy I know just received Greek Citizenship after years of getting the Adia Paramonis. This pain in the ass civil servant at his local Dimarxeio that he has dealt with for years had been bugging him to get Greek Citizenship but my friend's answer was so classic. He says, "I don't qualify for Greek Citizenship", and the civil servant walks right into the trap by saying "Why wouldn't you qualify". My friend said, "Because my IQ is too high, and I'm not a reckless driver". Now, although I don't approve of his comments, I could just imagine the clerk's face when he said it. Now that he's a Greek I razz him about being a reckless driver.

But all in all, my personal experience with Greek civil servants has been polite.. One tip I could offer is to always bring some sort of baked goods (pre-wrapped goodies from the bakery always seem to get me a smile from the Dimarxeio girls when I visit).

 
At 1/30/2006 09:06:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Ooh scruffy american, are you imlpying some kind of baked goods as bribes to get things done? I am glad your experiences have been good and polite. I will post at some point the story of my friend who has been here for 23 years (legally) applying for citizenship. It's painful.

 
At 1/31/2006 12:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ZARDOZ SAYS:

I....SYMPATHIZE WITH ALL. my mommy is american,my daddy greek but lives in canada,i was born greek
and lived all over there, here.HAVE BEEN THRU SEVERAL PASSPORTS.

A N Y W A Y S HERES MY TWO EUROCENT'S.



_I admit it , scruffy is right, give em sweets , and talk them silly, cry a little and show them
fotos of children mainly yours, you visiting churches at greek easter , with friends devouring lamb on the spit and amstel beer , show them
the "mati" you have pinned on your t-shirt, tell im its a gift from the local orthodox church, and that its blessed..."RUB IT TO THEM WITH FILOTIMO".

Soory miss MELUSINA , but youre right they are inbred , since the days of king OTHONAS early 1900's
up to the junta in '74 ... and even our days (almost)its been passing from father to son to daughter to cousin..
and so on and so on.......
makes a great clientele system come election time . AND OF COURSE people who were appointed only on the merit that they support the regime of the times , or their beliefs were of "COUNTRY-CHURCH-FAMILY"
WELL now i am abusing the greek people , they had to do their best to survive since the ottoman ruled them
for 400 years. SO MAYBE GOING TO A PROUD LIBERAL CONGRESSMAN EVER CROSSED ANY ONES MIND (IM NOT JOKING)
If they stand for anything, or a conservative EUROCONGRESSMAN yeah the ones shouting about equal rights
and human rights and so on, and so on.
I drop off my wife for work near the old building at PETROU RALLI street you know were the old FACTORY
was made to receive IMMIGRANT for permits and such,
so one day i see flyers all over the ground and people of many races , hot from the sun, having
coversations in avery intensive way, and reading said flyers, GUESS WHAT : THERE WERE MANY DIFFERENT PHONES OF PEOPLE OF CONGRESS , MOBILES , from almost all parties and how these people should help
on one side, and on the other the phones of instiguous reporters from the mass media if any one of them did,,,? DRAW YOUR OWN COCLUSIONS.

So last but not least smack 'em (the civil servants)..(and say the devil made ya do it)

and that dont work call me (leave a Z on said wall with the civil servants name),
and ill whack him.

Ms DD SORRY im not serious and i really sympathize ,
but who can be serious with this greece CIVIL SERVANTS and this europe OF SERVANTS.

At least were not the HAMAS in palestine having trouble going towards some democratic way of governing,
i mean as i read around somewere, someone named larry is going to send the U.S.AIR FORCE TO BOMB AND LEVEL PALESTINE IF THEY DONT CHANGE THEIR WAYS (NOT BLOW UP PEOPLE ANYMORE).......LOGIC..

Hey think larry could have all the civil servants buildings blown up from the air with smart bombs
you know the kind with HIGH I.Q.s ,

could solve the problem.

=============================================== Z A R D O Z

 
At 1/31/2006 08:50:00 AM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

Civil servants here wield their ineptitude and incompetence as power over the masses.

"You want your residence permit? Then sit down, shut up and wait for months while I'll send you around in circles just because I can. If you don't do as I say then I'll lose your paperwork and there's nothing you can do about it." That is basically their attitude.

To demonstrate: I went to my local police prefecture to pick up my residence permit which they said would be ready the day before. When I got there, dozens of immigrants like myself, were all huddled together peering through the glass doors at the two police staff chatting on the phone. I checked my watch. It was 10:30am. I asked them why they were not inside and they told me the 'lady' told them to wait outside until she told them to come inside. Apparently, she couldn't 'work' with so many people inside. I had a fit. I made my way through the crowd and walked up to the counter. The 'lady' (a girl of 19 or so) stared at me coldly and then asked "are you pregnant?" As if this was the only reason she could think of as to why I would dare open the door. I yelled at her and told her that my personal details were of no concern to her since she was neither my doctor nor my husband and that she had no right to close the doors when they had to be open from 8am-2pm. She started yelling at me. Her boss came out and asked what the problem was. So I told him...in great detail and then said that if he didn't get rid of that girl from my sight and give me my papers, my next stop would be at the police chief's office with my lawyer. The man was shocked to learn that she had taken the decision to close the doors to the public and told her to leave the room. Within 5 minutes I had an apology AND my residence permit. The doors were then open to the rest of those waiting too patiently.

This scenario has been reenacted many times over the years for me. I am always nice and polite the first time around, after they screw up, the gloves are off and I'm in the middle of a tirade. My husband says it's a wonder I haven't been kicked out of Greece for what I do. I wonder as well. Maybe I do these things because I know, deep down, that if they do kick me out, I won't be crying which is why I'm not afraid to throw tantrums in the first place. LOL

 
At 1/31/2006 09:49:00 AM, Blogger adfjkaj said...

Seawitch, can I borrow you if I ever need a big sister to kick some butt for me. What you wrote was nice. Civil Servants are certainly not used to foreign speaking back to them like that. They are used to browbeating the poor undocumented alien to the point of making them stand outside.

Well, if its any consolation, you no longer need to go to the police station to get your permit. All the permits are handled by the dimarxeio now as I just found out in the last year.

ZARDOZ: Larry is a drinking buddy of mine here in Athens. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and certainly the right to condemn terrorists for who they are!

Plus, I also read Larry's comments on Buru's site and added my own. I believe he said that if it is proven that they committed an act of terrorism against America, they will feel the full force of the Air Force because now they cannot hide anywhere. Maybe some countries don't like to protect themselves or are unable, but America has the right to protect itself when attacked, and quite frankly I'm 100% behind that!!!!! We're not some milquetoast appeasing country that says "Oh, dear, Oh my". If you mess with the bull, you get the horns!!!

Now, Diva, I'm very sorry to have posted all this since it's off-topic, but Mr. Zardoz started it by bringing up Larry's comments. As I said on Buru's blog, I will let this go. I won't respond to any more pro-Hamas nonsense... My blood pressure is more important than saying the right thing in this case.

 
At 1/31/2006 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Pordas said...

Why people upset with Hamas now. Yiasou Arafat and PLO also terrorist and no one yell too much with them.

 
At 1/31/2006 12:07:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

I know Hamas was brought up in the comments but this post is not about the political situation in the middle east. I am on a very short fuse today so please let's stick to the subject. Apologies if this sounds abrupt but as I say, I'm not in the mood. Thank you.

 
At 1/31/2006 01:39:00 PM, Blogger EllasDevil said...

Well first of all, bravo re SeaWitch! They actually need to hire you to reform things around here.

From a Greek point of view, I actually feel sorry for you guys because you've lived in other countries and you know there's actually a better way for things to work.

But how can we expect the paper chase for important things like this to be simplified when we seem to excel in complicating even the most simplest of action.

 
At 1/31/2006 07:35:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Ellasdevil, your last line was very funny and frighteningly true.

 
At 1/31/2006 09:59:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

I think if people just chose to stop waiting and stop accepting substandard work and attitude from the uncivil service, things would change immediately.

I find it odd in a country whose people will revolt over the results of a soccer game or fight over a parking space but will not group together to demand service that is constitutionally and legally available to them. If one person yells, he/she is dismissed. If 100 people yell, things happen.

Also, everyone has to agree to stop bribing these halfwits because they do themselves and everyone else a disservice. If I pay 200€ to a low level clerk to push my papers through then that means the person who SHOULD have been before me has their paperwork stalled. Bribing someone to do the job they were hired to do encourages shoddy work because they don't feel the need to do fulfill their job responsibilities until they get extra money.

The only way to get anything changed is through collective bargaining. (I can get my personal affairs taken care of by having fits but I can't change the system by myself. I have just affected the outcome on behalf of one person>>>me.) I can't get away with half the things I do in the public sector if other people didn't raise their voices along with me. Maybe I'm the first to screech, but others join in and I'm no longer the weird "xeni", I'm the woman who has a point.

We ALL have to be so damn accommodating and start speaking up when we KNOW we're right.

 
At 1/31/2006 10:22:00 PM, Blogger adfjkaj said...

Amen Sister Seawitch,

The Greeks have the power in their own hands and they don't even know it.

Like when Fage yoghurt had that scandal with infected yoghurt.

People at my local supermarket just thought I was an odd ball when I refused to buy Fage brand. I told this cashier that unless people send these people a message by boycotting the products, they will continue to shovel the same shoddy crap to you. The makes of Tylenol had it right years ago when that scare with the poisoned Tylenol was around in the states. They immediately took responsibility and recalled the product. There was no cover up like Faget tried.

Now, I know that some Greeks did boycott Fage, but not enough to really dent their sales I assume.

So, instead of that next march to the American Embassy, how about march to the Dimarxeio...

 
At 2/01/2006 07:58:00 AM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

My last line in my post should have read...

We ALL have to STOP being so accommodating....

(Sorry...I type faster than I think LOL)

 
At 2/01/2006 08:40:00 AM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

I can't believe you were here before me this morning, seawitch! Great comments and you are absolutely right. Energies seem to be focused in the wrong places.
Hi scruffy american, you also quite rightly point out, a widespread boycott can make a difference. Companies will only act if profits are affected.
I think we should all refuse to pay the annual "to prevent the tax office finding some mistake in your books" scam. We have been advised to pay it because we were told that if you don't they WILL find something wrong! We have to stop these criminals.

 
At 2/01/2006 09:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ZARDOZ SAYS:

OF course bribing only gets thinks done for the moment that the transaction takes place
but it is at large as a historical mentality of turkish domination when the poorer population
had to pay tribute for many things to the local rich and oppressive leaders of the times
this was called as i gather back then "bakshishi"
Historically seems to be around the times , that the city states were in full power
and of course all this never stopped even after WWII, THE CIVIL WAR, and the trying times of the 50's
and 60's , when this particular way of life was enhanced , because civil servants , loyal
the regimes of the times , thru doing favors for less loyal subjects to the crown, and or regime of the time accumulated wealth and power, leaving a larger population of the people with a no-way out to
balance social injustices, especially against the state even for minimal purposes,(as one fellow said
to me once they wouldnt give him a permit to build an outhouse)

Anyways another major problem was the that leftist parties never accumulated enough moderate approaches
to fight the above mentioned mentality but only to put up some laws which protected the individual half-assed against the state , the right political parties would then bury them by not lettin the public know
(and there are many ways to do that)that peoples rights are laws to protect them against the state.

AND last but not least the leftist and communist political parties never seemed to be able to tie down
thru their policies the right of the people to have a fighting platform for consumer policies
at local and national levels , as to how they will come to grips with bad products ,services , and policies.

So in my opinion there are historical reasons for todays lagging social ineptitude to counter
bad goverment , big business (yes like FAGE)


the sad part is that some consumer organizations and some legal ones to protect citizens from bad goverment, have the same problem as the NON-GOV organizations , no money or no support from the supposed political activists and the great MASS MEDIA players and are only used to show that were all in a
supposedly democratic state of affairs,,,


My participation with the historical mumbo jumbo is to supplement people like seawitch and of course.
scruffy and others who do make a difference in local mentality, because by and by greeks i have come to terms , are a jealous type so when a "ksenos" xenos" (an outsider) gets what he aims for ,
in his dealings with civil servants, they go bananas and start thinking
and of course acting and reacting
So the percentage of different races and peoples are playing a role on this nation, in my opinion
for the better, and for all
So good for you seawitch,scruffy ,and all who are trying against the tide .

......of course patience is a virtue,

and then again with humor well live longer,

..........................HEY SCRUFFY RACE YA TO YOUR BLOG.


==========ZARDOZ

 
At 2/01/2006 10:27:00 PM, Blogger The SeaWitch said...

Diva...I'm always online by 8am, once my son is off to his daily indoctrination classes courtesy the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. LOL I have exactly 90 minutes to get my daily dose of my fave blogs and comment on them so that's why I'm often skipping entire sentences when I post that early...I'm in a rush and the caffeine hasn't kicked in. hehe

 
At 2/06/2006 12:12:00 PM, Blogger schatzli said...

what about me 22 years.. they stopped my old permit
then I got married to an EU \i was classified as dependent of an eu which case my application been bounced from one office to another...
gone 4 years still nothing happened to it

got a diff passport... applied for permit this time it was easy and thats why I have been called at the police I FILIPINEZ POU EGINE EVROPAIA


Last time I went to get my permit I WAITED FOR HRS THAT I COULD NOT EVEN BRING MYSELF GOING TO THE LOO IN CASE THEY CALLED MY NAME AND I WAS NOT THERE AND THEY WILL JUST SHOVE MY FILES AT THE BOTTOM AGAIN.....

 
At 2/06/2006 02:17:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

22 years! Did you get your permit finally? It's hard. I have several friends who have been/going through the process of becoming citizens. It's an obstacle course. What makes it worse is that it depends so much on the person you get to see at the desk. One person with a bee in his/her bonnet can make life totally miserable. The other thing they talked to me about was the insecurity of being stopped while their papers were in the process. Not being able to travel, to visit family for fear of not being allowed back. One friend, who has now left for Australia where she can finally work on her Masters degree, had been five or six years trying to get fully legal. She worked in jobs far beneath her abilities and put up with so much abuse that she finally decided to just get out. Greece's loss is Australia's gain.

 

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