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 Greece hopes migrant burden will turn into boon

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PostSubject: Greece hopes migrant burden will turn into boon   Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:53 am

Two decades ago, an influx of half a million migrants boosted Greece's economy. Today, the government and some experts hope a new wave of migrants will do the same.

Some 60,000 refugees, including many young Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis, have been stuck in Greece for the past year, languishing in camps after the doors to Europe were shut.

But unlike in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the migrants, mainly from Albania and Bulgaria, benefited from a booming economy, Greece has been unable to make the most of the recent arrivals.

"The refugees we have now are different" since many still hope to reach northern Europe and have no intention of settling in Greece, said Stavros Zografakis, an associate professor at the Agricultural University of Athens.

Many of the 500,000 to 600,000 migrants who entered Greece 20 years ago, by contrast, quickly found their place in Greek society, with jobs in agriculture and construction.

Analysts estimate they contributed 3 percentage points to Greece's gross domestic product in the 2000s, as the country grew strongly on the back of the 2004 Olympic Games, heavy infrastructure spending, and Greece's adoption of the euro in 2001.
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