I am coming back to Niko Ago’s case not only because I like to know the development of every story I read, not because he is a person I know and respect but because it is a small example of the labyrinth Greek citizens are faced with. In this case there is no discrimination against immigrants – the greek state is no racist: bureaucracy tortures all of us equally.

To our story: Mr. Ago was asked to leave the country willingly by the 16th of June 2012 in order to avoid deportation. He appealed against the decision of the Regional authorities to a civil court. Unfortunately for him, while the court can issue a decision within 60 days the Regional authorities have given him a 30 day time limit!! If the court accepts his appeal and allows him to stay on  after 32 days Mr. Ago has to leave and come back. Mr. Ago will be put to the unnecessary expense of a trip home plus the psychological trauma of his children to be forced to be separated from their father because the Regional authorities did not give him the same time limit as the court to allow for justice to be applied in a really fair way. In case Mr. Ago or other legal immigrants, who cannot renew their residence permit for a minor lapse, cannot leave the country they suddenly become illegal and are open to all kinds of exploitation.

A couple of months ago, speaking with a relative who migrated to  New Zealand 10 years ago, I learnt that in order to start a business in Auckland you need capital, a bank account and an application to the IRS. In Greece you need to collect something like 15 signatures from various offices and authorities, you need capital and to find someone you know or knows you in the IRS!!

The doctrine of bureaucracy reigns in the whole of the civil service. It does not just inconvenience people but indirectly feeds the clientelle system: lost in this maze of papers, documents etc you look for someone to help you. This someone is usually a civil servant who gets paid extra to do what the state pays him to do in any case or helps you out as a favour and asks for a favour in return.. which is, often, your vote for a particular party.

The recent crisis seems to have a positive effect on this phenomenon. At least in some cases. I hope that Niko Ago’s will be one of them.