A Greek-Australian Young Man’s Good Image of Greece

Billy Billiris is an 18-year-old Greek-Australian based in Sydney. An active member of the Greek community of Sydney and a big lover of his distant homeland, the Head event Producer of the Fist Pump Entertainment company which has organized several major Greek events in Australia, returned home after spending his vacation in Greece and had some sharp opinions of what he saw, especially after having an image of the country while he was in Australia.

  • Being a Greek-Australian yourself, what’s the image you had about Greece while living abroad?

For me personally,  no matter what the image has portrayed, I have always had a positive image of Greece, my love for Greece and the Greek culture has inspired the work I do every day and has always been a part of my raising.

My image of Greece was a place of home, a place of hospitality, a place of culture and a place filled with ambience, that’s the image that was portrayed by my Yiayia and Papou. My Papou travels every single year, his love for Greece is second to none. He would always tell me one day we would go together growing up, he recently spoke to me saying sometimes he questioned why he left or why he didn’t move back there. His view, and a view I agree with, is that while Greeks live a poorer life than us in Australia, they’re happier, they’re friendlier and they’re all about family and that is something money cannot buy.

But this is the first time you visited Greece. So, what was the image you had on the country because of the mediaDid you notice any similarities between what you thought you would find and actual Greece?

The majority of the media has portrayed Greeks as lazy, the country is in flames because of riots and not to go there as it is a massive risk and they could kill you. Every single report to me is propaganda. Greece is nothing like that, in actual fact they work very hard and I never felt in danger from in Athens to the islands, I felt like I was as safe as home.

Greece was a very cheap lifestyle from food to shopping, it was very cheap. I loved the people’s behavior towards tourists, they were very friendly and always smiling. I had minimal problems but I did see the crisis in the main kentro (centre) of Athens. It was sad to see homeless people and beggars but the local taxi driver did point out a very important thing, that these homeless people and beggars are actually illegal immigrants and they have been there for many years. I hope the Greek Police keep on going with there clean-out of these people on the streets as they cause trouble for tourists, dirty the cities, especially Athens, and are part of an economic problem.

International media keep showing a general image of destruction and desperation in regards to Greece. Do you agree of this image broadcast that all Greeks have been turned from joyful and outgoing people into desperate and poor?

I don’t believe Greeks are desperate or poor. Yes, they live a poorer life than us in Australia, yes, the majority are not well off but it depends on how you measure poor. In my opinion, the majority seem happy and obviously, time will tell especially with Troika coming into play and placing very tough austerity measures for the Greeks. One thing I will say is that the majority of Greeks I spoke to are confident that they will beat this crisis and they never give up.

What do your Australian friends think of Greece right now?

Aussies love Greece, I go to university and all the girls always say how much they dream to get married on the Greek islands. Yes, media impacts them a lot, I remember heaps of them saying “please promise me you won’t get killed.” I laughed because until you experience Greece, you really can’t say that. Aussies and Greeks have many similar tastes and that is why they love Greece.

What do you like the most concerning Greece, and what do you hate?

loved the people and I loved the culture, there is no place like Greece. The one thing I hated was these illegal immigrants on the streets, yes I understand they’re doing it tough but the European Union must place some tough legislations on this issue otherwise they will continue to dirty Greece and its’ cities. All the tourists and Greeks in general seem to have the same opinion. Maybe built a detention center to house them until their country is identified and is deemed safe to return to.

Several young Greeks decide to migrate to other countries due to crisis, sometimes they head to Australia. What do you think of that?

I think Greeks need to stay in Greece because Greece needs them now. They need unity and they need support. Greece has so much potential to become one of the most producing nations, they just need innovation and hard work. This crisis is an opportunity for Greece to rebuild for the better and just by walking through small towns you see the potential it has. Go back to basics, re-discover your old culture and realize what you have. In saying that, Australia is a beautiful country, it is very modern and has some of the best facilities, jobs are limited in Australia and not everything is as easy as it seems as the whole world is going through tough times.

You are working in the event organizing sector focusing on Greek events. Do you believe Greek-Australians are really interested in events organized by Greek communities of Australia?

I would love to say “yes,” but in my eyes, I have seen a tremendous drop especially in the youth area, 3rd Generation Greek-Australians don’t seem too interested in their Greek culture but I am confident of changing this and with a focused team inspiring Greek-Australians into a new era of events. Greece has inspired me to bring back the Greek partying way and culture with innovation back with me in Australia. I think, since we started Greek Under-18 events in 2010, I have seen a fantastic change of pride and interest in the Greek Cultural Events. Plus, once they go to Greece, they come back with a different mindset and want Greek events.

For further information on Australia’s Greek events or general inquiries, you can contact Mr Billiris by email at [email protected] or visit www.fistpump.com.au.


  • Atkenos

    For the most part I agree with you. We only differ in how the people are feeling, struggling… and we speak regularly with cousins, nephews, uncles and aunts etc. But what about the pathetic ABC journo who bagged Hellas as unsafe and the Smart Traveller website. THAT should be taken to the new Greek Ministerial Advisory Ctee that Miss Gillard has established.

  • Lalala

    How long was Billy’s holiday to Greece? Did he go to villages on the main island and wherever your family is from or did he just stick to the tourist route? I can see a lot of generalisations in this article and not really any genuine insights. And wow, what judgement towards asylum seekers! Some sympathy towards vulnerable people would be nice – ‘lets just lock them up’ is your solution – seriously!!! What a young naive person. I’m sorry but as a tourist you can only see the surface of a culture and society. Live there for 10 years and then give us some insights. This story should have been very different to the one you have chosen to present.

  • Billy

    I went to Villages in the Main Island and where my family is from. Around 10 Islands in total. I never said “Let’s just lock them up” – In Actual fact I said build a detention centre to house them until the country they’re from is deemed safe to return upon. I believe there are many poor people but the majority of these Aslyum seekers are being left out in the streets and this isn’t right for them or Greeks or Greece. They need to be housed then helped return where they come from. As if you can’t see the economic problems Greece are having, is Greece really a country for their benefit at the moment?

  • geo

    Lalala, clearly you do not understand the scope of the illegal immigration issue in Greece going on for the past decade or so. Illegal immigrants are sent to Greece en masse by Turkey with US and British support in order to wipe out Greece from Greeks. Do some research before you believe yourself to be taking the high road when in fact you’re only caving in to the anti-Greek propaganda.

  • ak

     haha…”illegal immigrants are sent to Greece en masse by Turkey”…You are kidding me..trust me mate the Turkish government has more important matters to address, then to intentionally send immigrants to Greece..How about you Greeks for once stop blaming your short-falls and problems on others..drop the paranoia, conspiracies, and look in the mirror for once.

  • Greekaroo

    Thanks Billy for speaking the truth-I only disagree with you calling them all “asylum seekers” most of them are NOT asylum seekers but illegal immigrants looking for work/financial opportunities -as you acknowledged with your “is Greece really a country for their benefit at the moment?” comment.

  • Greekaroo

    1. The number one priority of the turkish government is to create instability with neighbouring countries for it’s own econmic & military benefits-there is nothing more important to the Turks than war:look at their military spending.

    2. The turkish government has publicly admitted to arson: it set fires to hundreds of forests around Greece, the turkish army admitted to bombing it’s own mosques in Cyprus in order to create ethnic hate, they are certainly willing and able to “flood” Greece with illegal immigrants to create social unrest…

  • Lalala

    Billy, thank you for replying to me.
    I would like to know what you would define detention? To me a detention centre essentially means locking them up against their will. You also mention until it is deemed safe for them to return to their country – many countries have civil wars lasting decades – at what point does that become unrealistic? Also, as you have mentioned, and as we are all well aware Greece is in a very difficult economic position – can you imagine how expensive a detention centre and detaining people for an unknown period of time would cost? I don’t think it is the right solution.
    How do we know how many of these people are asylum seekers and how many are illegal immigrants seeking financial opportunities? I’m not an expert and I don’t have an answer – but I am seeking a healthy discussion and I acknowledge that it is possible that not all of these people are ‘asylum seekers

  • ak

     1. OK lets get this straight, when you border countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria, plus daily attacks by PKK militants, you spend money on the military..instability?? So you’re blaming Greece’s economic problems on Turkey? what about the Albanians? Turkey’s fault too?? what a joke..there is no benefit in having instability in neighboring countries…silly comment

    2. The Turkish government has never publicly admitted to arson, that’s just a blatant lie..I wouldn’t take a former PM’s comments seriously just like I’m sure you don’t take every comment by the Golden Dawn seriously and the mosques?? seriously?? is this the lies the Greek government comes up with?..I really think whenever Greece has problems or the government is criticized..they deliberately create tensions with Turkey or create lies and people like you swallow it..that way the attention is taken away from them..I hope for the day Greece gets over this paranoia and hatred..Ottoman days were the past..and I hope I see a day where Turkey and Greece work together..however as long there are people like you, there will always be hurdles.

  • Greekaroo

    ak, uninformed yet happy to talk about what you don’t know!

    1. Turkey had used chemical weapons against the Kurds as recently as this year, Turkey disbanded a legal Kurdish party in it’s parliament, Turkey’s Kurdish South East is underdeveloped compared to the the rest of Turkey

    2. Turkey is illegally occupying Cyprus and has moved tens of millions of dollars worth of military aparatus to the island, not to mention tens of thousands of soldiers

    3.Turkey has illegally trained the so-called “rebels” and invaded Syria, butchering minority groups & anyone else in their way

    4.Turkey has recently purchased giant bridges (i can’t remember the correct military term at the moment) that can be used over water on it’s borders with Greece

    5. Turkey has set up a large military base opposite the Greek Island of Corfu, in ALBANIA, conducted recent military exercises with ALBANIA, supported/encouraged ALBANIAN claims on Greek land, supported/encouraged ALBANIAN claims in the entire Region

    6. Albanians=butchers/lackeys of the Ottomans since the fall of the empire, Albanians have remained pro-turk,anti-greek Albanians=butchers/lackeys of the Nazis in WWII against Greeks (Turkish troops replaced Nazi troops in Syria in WWII).

    7. Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu, as agreed with 100% by Erdogan & Gul, has written a manifesto on a RE-OTTOMANISATION CRUSADE against Europe

    8. OF COURSE Turkey benefits from making it’s enemies/neighbours weaker, they don’t shy away from boasting about it at every opportunity

    9. Turkey, on a daily basis, violates greek airspace with it’s military planes & ships, in contempt of international protocol NOT RECOGNISING Greece’s sovereignty over the Aegean

    10. Modern Turkey is an agressor in the region as supported by the USA. The only good news there is that the USA turns vicious against all it’s former puppets.

    11. The truth hurts ak, most of this info & that in my previous comment is backed-up by TURKISH sources, we can’t make this stuff up!!

    oh yeah, we will ALWAYS defend ourselves and stand up against terrorist turks!

  • ak

     

    Greekaroo

     

    1. If you have any reliable sources, and have evidence of the
    use of chemical weapons. Please produce them. I have Kurdish friends who are
    pro-PKK and they have never mentioned such nonsense…the south-east is
    under-developed because of the PKK..if they were based in Greece, they would
    have had a country by now.

    2. Im pretty it was the Turks who voted Yes to reunite…just more
    racist, bias dribble from you.

    3.Last time I checked there were 60,000 Syrian refugees
    sheltered in Turkey. Who were very happy with the hosts…doesn’t sound like a
    tyrant butcher to me..  Im pretty sure Greece
    would rather put these people in detention camps and lock them up..if any of the
    comments on this article are anything to go by.

    4.God knows what you are cooking up with this one.

    5. Turkey supports Albania, just like Greece supports Serbia or
    cyprus..support against Greece’s territorial integrity = fabricated paranoia conspiracy

    6. That’s just extremely racist, id hate to read what you say
    about Macedonians.

    7. Hehe..this one is just plain funny..Erdogan and Gul would
    not be stupid enough to even consider that a possibility…sounds like
    conspiracies cooked up in the Greek media again

    8. I repeat no one benefits, thats just your paranoia kicking
    in again….the wars and crisis’ on Turkey’s borders have cost Turkey billions in trade..billions

    9. Turkey and Greece both play war games over the Aegean, you’re
    just bias, and Greece can do no wrong…yes both have claims in the aegean..which needs to be sorted with a reliable mediator.

    10. The good news is Turkey is strategically very important, and
    Greece only wishes to be a US puppet and because it cant, it prefers to be a German or Russian one…Greece as being one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe..the recent thaw in relations with Israel, only prove this.

    11. Its interesting you said “most” just shows that you
    fabricated some info, based on your prejudice against Turks, the rest from other
    like-minded sources. What hurts is that there are people like you, who always
    get in the way of peace because of your mind is full of conspiracy, paranoia, prejudice…Im
    sure you’d be voting for the Golden Dawn if you were living in Greece

    Oh yeah, you just keep thinking we are your enemy..you don’t
    need to defend, we aren’t after you…I dearly hope people like you are a small
    minority in Greece, otherwise you’ll have trouble getting yourself out of this
    mess and you’ll have to just worry about paying the debts off to your German
    masters for the next 100 years..im sure they will keep providing you with
    bailouts..

  • Sydnick

    Regarding the Greko-Turk debate, I cannot say I have had any bad experiences with Australian-Turks, all have come across as nice people towards me.
    Half of my family hails from a small island close to the Turkish coast, where cross cultural tourism plays a very important role for both people. I was there last year, and the number of Turkish gulets passing into the harbour was astounding, and the local Greeks
    very appreciative. Also a lot of cultural strengthening has been started in Turkey by Turks.
    Many years back I was staying with some relatives in Rhodes, when in one afternoon a terrible thunder could be heard from the clear skies above. In an instant, four jet fighters screamed right above us. I asked my uncle what the hell that was. His response was , “it’s just the Greek air force chasing out some Turkish fighters from Greek air space.” When I quizzed him more about the problem between Greeks and Turks, his response was, “what problem? The governments cause the problems for all of us.”

    Moral of the story…Governments cause problems. Not the people.

  • Dino

    When there will be no war crimes in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan lead by the US and NATO then there will be no war refugees running away from their home countries and entering EU or other countries. If you had your home bombed what would you do? Everyone wants to get a better life, that’s what the Greeks did when they moved to Australia, US a few generations ago. Let’s not ignore the facts.