On the flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, you will see many Greeks with quite bulky suitcases, laptops and embarrassed smiles, who are preparing to land in Cyprus with the hope that the brotherly country will help them settle in, and in most cases this happens. Hundreds of Greeks working in the tourism sector, catering, financial and credit services, education or in Greek companies have been finding jobs on the island of Aphrodite since in the last 20 months 1,500 Greek companies have transferred their headquarters to Cyprus. In addition, many famous artists and journalists have moved to the island.
The Greek emigrant exodus began in 2010 and is continuing at an increasing pace. According to the Social Security Agency of Cyprus in April 2011 from a total of 31,000 Greek citizens, 10,000 were registered in the Fund for Social Insurance and 2,000 have received unemployment benefits from the Cypriot state. At the same time 1,043 Greeks are working in the state administration and in the education sector - 471. At the beginning the Greek economic emigrants had enjoyed a warm welcome. "The qualified specialists had considerable experience and professional qualities", says one Cypriot employer, "businessmen were saved because they found employees who knew perfect English, and of course Greek." Over time, however, as the index of unemployment in Greece jumped from 3 percent to 10 percent, the number of teachers wanting to work in Cyprus increased to 9,000, the economic crisis clouds begin to gather over Cyprus, and it seems that the balance is being disrupted. "However, the crisis here cannot be compared to the one in Greece", comment experts "some layoffs have been made and construction activity is decreasing. The situation resembles Greece in 2008, but only that."
The common language and culture, good weather, proximity to home, and low crime make emigration to Cyprus an ideal solution for many Greeks, especially for families. "I am glad that my children will grow up here," says 41-year-old Gerasimos Haritopoulos who has a PhD and has been in Cyprus for ten days. "From the first Cypriot job ad I applied to, I was invited for an interview", remembers today the Director of a Home for persons with mental retardation. "I hope that my wife and our two children, one and three years old, will come soon. Incentive for emigration is not only the economic factor but also the quality of life we want to provide for our children." 25-year old Slaviana, photographer and mother of a 16-month-old baby, is also packing her suitcases, following the same logic. "I have relatives in Cyprus, who will help me and my husband", she says, "I have been looking for a job since September and now I have found something that satisfies me." Parallel with working she plans to enrol in university. "I am worried about the crisis and I would have felt safer if I moved outside of Europe."
Since the end of August 30-year-old Costas Karatanasis has been working at the University of Cyprus. He holds a doctorate in biomedical technology and is interested in an academic career. In Greece, however, something like this is impossible, as he says. "I started preparing my documents for Switzerland when my friends told me that scientists with my specialty are being sought in Cyprus." Ten days later, Costas moved to Nicosia as a visiting scholar. "The bureaucratic procedure ended very quickly, as the formalities were undertaken by the university administration." Today, shortly before the end of the academic year, he feels happy with his decision: "The work conditions are exceptional, the mentality is similar to ours, and here I have forgotten what the word “crime” means ", he said. "Half-jokingly half seriously, all my friends in Greece tell me that if I hear about someone offering a job, to give them a call...".