“Thessaloniki has been a crossroad of civilisations for many years, and a lot of its residents have a migrant background; it has been also a city of origin for many Greek migrants around the world,” says Eftychia Kivrakidou, Director of Administrative, Financial and HR Projects at ANATOLIKI SA.
Greece is one of Europe’s main gateways for migrants and refugees. The challenges for the reception of thousands and even millions of people seeking a better life in Europe or escaping a dire situation back home are numerous, and the municipality of Thessaloniki — together with the municipality of Delta, through ANATOLIKI SA, an organisation for local development — has been seeking solutions and sharing experiences.
“The migrants that arrived in the city in the 1990s have contributed to the local economy and played a significant role, mainly in the agricultural and the construction sector, while the recent refugee flows have also revived sectors of the local economy, mainly the housing sector (a number of the housing stock is used in accommodation schemes) but also in commerce since the beneficiaries of the relevant cash assistance programmes have been spending their money in the local market,” she adds.
This new reality has created challenges — and Thessaloniki has been moving to respond to them.