Niki Diogou is a PhD student at the University of the Agean, and lives in Athens.
I’ve been officially unemployed for the last year, because I haven’t received [funding for my PhD programme] yet, and so I’m completely broke. Being unemployed is actually very typical in Greece right now.
Unemployment in Athens has been a problem for many years, but this last year it has been really bad. For people who have just graduated and are looking for a job, it’s hard to find one, but there’s also lots of people who are getting fired. In my field, which is the environment, well, it’s no longer a priority, which makes it even harder.
In the beginning [after the first austerity measures were passed], when people were fired after a certain number of years working at a company, the government gave them some money - not [a lot], but a little support. But this amount has decreased and now it’s harder to get
. And of course, after a year you don’t get anything at all.
It’s ridiculous. For example the price of gas or heating oil, which are important during the winter, is so expensive. It’s the same or even higher than the prices [in other European countries] and the salaries
are so low that it’s difficult to keep up. I think there’s going to be another migration like there was in the 1960s.
With my friends for example, we don’t go out anymore. Even my friends who have jobs don’t have enough money – everyone is so limited [by financial constraints]. People don’t know what to hope for anymore, because it looks like this crisis isn’t going to go away soon.
[Because] I’m unemployed, [when] I look into the future I wonder, what if I want to have a family? What if…? It makes you really insecure. Already [being unemployed] makes me stay in more, I have less activities. It makes you worry and I hesitate to do anything because what if I have to take the car? It’s so expensive to pay for the gas.
I would have been happy to leave the Greek situation [and almost did at one point] because it’s miserable for everyone. But at the same time I love my country, and I feel really bad saying that.
It is true that Greeks don’t pay their taxes. People who are doctors, who are lawyers – these are not your average Greek - live in expensive homes, but when it comes to declaring their taxes they say they’ve earned the salary of a cleaning lady.
I can say that I’m happy that taxes have increased on luxury items because these people had to pay. But now it’s not just these types of people who have to pay higher taxes – it’s everyone".