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International Conference “Literature and Immigration” in Warsaw (25/3/2010)

An international conference “Literature and Immigration” took place in Warsaw on the 25th March, under the auspices of the European Commission and EUNIC (EU National Institutes of Culture).
The conference was organized by Goethe Institut, Austrian Cultural Forum, Danish Institute, Romanian Cultural Institute, the Swedish Embassy and the Press Office of the Greek Embassy, all of them members of EUNIC, as well as by the Representation in Poland of the European Commission and the Centre of Modern Art Zamek Ujazdowski, where the conference took place.
Scholars involved in academic research related with the topics of literature and immigration were invited to share their views with writers that have chosen to write in a foreign language.
  

The writer Kallifatides

 Greece was represented by the Albanian writer and journalist, Gazmend Kapllani, who lives and works in Greece and the writer Theodor Kallifatides, who has lived the last 45 years in Sweden, publishing more than 40 books.
Both writers were invited by the Press Office, with the support of the Greek Book Centre

Kapllani spoke about “The strange language of dreams”: ”I think that writing in a language that is not your mother tongue is a privilege and a trap at the same time. It’s a trap because every time that you are not satisfied with what you are writing, you’re tempted to blame your failure on the “foreign” language. In a way, it becomes your scapegoat. 

The writer and journalist Kapllani

On the other hand, it’s a privilege, because the relationship between yourself and that language is a relationship of a never ending curiosity. You never take it for granted. This happens for the sole reason that it was never given to you, you had to “conquer” it. You are in a constant search for yourself and this language. The foreign language will never fully be yours in the same way your mother tongue is. I believe that the relationship one has with one’s mother tongue always contains an element of routine and heaviness. The relationship with the “foreign” language never becomes routine. It gives you a sense of lightness and freedom, a desire to play and conquer. The relationship with your mother tongue seems similar to the maternal affection. The relationship with a foreign language that you acquired resembles a love affair. At least, this is what I can say about my relationship with the Greek language. I feel that I am no longer a stranger to the Greek language. But I am not a native either. Therefore, I do not live inside the Greek language either as a stranger, or as a native. Maybe I live within it as a strange one”. 
Kallifatides, who has published novels, poetry collections, travel essays and plays, has received numerous awards for his works which usually revolve around his experience of Greece and of being Greek in foreign domains and almost all his works have been translated and published in more than twenty languages.
During the conference, he stressed that for him the Greek language is the language of connotations and feelings, and the Swedish language is an intellectual language. He mentioned the problems of writing in your own language and the privileges of writing in a foreign language. He considers himself an immigrant and a writer and not an immigrant writer.

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EU Cooperation on Immigration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the EU and the Netherlands,” said the Netherlands’ Deputy Justice Minister, responsible for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday (May 27) after visiting an illegal immigrants’ reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.  “Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states,” added the Dutch official who earlier this week had talks in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

Illegal Immigration Population in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: “Estimate of the illegal immigrant population in Greece This paper calculates the number of illegal immigrants in Greece based on the Number of Foreign Students, on arrest and Deportation Data, on the Estimates of Immigrant Associations, on the Estimates of Local Authorities, as well as the Estimates of the Hellenic Police Force. There is now an extensive bibliography on modern immigration to Greece, which covers a broad range of problems relating to the inflow of large numbers of illegal immigrants after 1990, part of whom have become legal. However, limited efforts have been made to estimate the illegal immigrant populations existing in the country. The only safe estimates available as to the number of immigrants are those deriving from the three legalisation schemes and the 2001 census. During the 2001 census, 672,191 immigrants were in Greece (including those legalized under the 1998 legalisation scheme and those illegally staying in the country). 367,860 illegal immigrants applied for status in the legalisation scheme of 2001, but only 217,000 qualified for residence and employment permits. In the third legalisation scheme of year 2005, there were 145,000 applications, far below those of the two previous schemes. As a result of the three legalisation schemes carried out, a total of 604,215 valid residence and employment permits were granted to immigrants in Greece in 2005 and 695,979 permits in 2006. However, these data do not provide an accurate estimate of the illegal immigrant population, given that it remains unknown. The Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (www.imepo.gr)’s mission is to research and understand the phenomenon of migration and conduct studies, which contribute to the design and implementation of Greece’s  immigration policy. 

Greek Foreign Ministry: “An Afghan Odysseus”

The awarded documentary “Qadir: An Afghan Odysseus” officially premiered on October 29, and a message from Minister Dora Bakoyannis was read out during a press conference to mark the occasion. The film tracks the nine-year journey of a young Afghan immigrant as he tries to make his life in Greece. In her message, Bakoyannis hailed the final effort as “a programme of developmental cooperation that seeks to sensitize western societies to the problems of the developing world, to show understanding for difference and the importance of encouraging return through developmental activities.”  Co-financed by Hellenic Aid and the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT), the film was screened at the ministry, in the presence of Afghan Deputy Culture Minister Omar Sultan. The filming of the documentary – that received 1st Prize at the International Roma Fiction Festival (Factual Section)- took place in Greece and Afghanistan. In an overview of Greek developmental diplomacy over the last five years, Secretary General for International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation Theodoros Skylakakis pointed out that Greece had given more than €60 million to Afghanistan’s reconstruction in that time, financing initiatives including emergency aid, health, education, preserving peace and culture.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Qadir – An Afghan Odysseus 

Greece: Questions and Answers for Immigrants

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   A new brochure by the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute comprises 22 questions and their respective answers on the maun issues that all immigrants have to face during their stay in Greece: “I live in Greece, What should I know? 22 Questions & Answers on issues related to the everyday life of immigrants during their stay in Greece   The brochure is also available in the Greek, Albanian, Arabic, Chinese and Russian language.