English | Dutch
Not so welcome anymore
Párga (Greece), November 5th 2011 

We already knew that the border crossing between Albania and Greece is a slow one. A very slow one, people mentioned earlier to us. And indeed, when we approached the border crossing, we had to join a queue before we were served. A queue on both the Albanian and Greece side of the crossing.

While we were waiting on the Albanese side of the crossing, we witnessed how some Albanian drivers didn’t have the patience to wait for their turn. They over jumped the queue as far as possible and positioned there cars with some force between other ones. Justifiably, some Greek drivers in the queue didn’t like that. But instead of discussing the issue with the people who jumped the queue, they took out on the people who left to much space between their car and the car in front of them, the space used by the jumpers. While enjoying the usual border issues, we were also philosophizing about the way, we as Dutch people, are treated nowadays in Greece. The Netherlands, together with Germany, are the two main hardliners about how the Greek crisis should be dealt with. The Dutch and Germans want as much certainties as possible that the aid given is used well. And that means that the Greek government much drastically cut their spending and must do their outmost best to collect necessary tax income. And that is something that most of the Greeks do not like.

Both the Albanian and Greek immigration officials let us through without any issues. There was one more step to take; the Greek customs. Also this step shouldn’t take too much hassle because all cars in front of us could pass without long delays. But then our Land Cruiser with yellow Dutch license plates appeared. The customs official, who waived through al the previous cars, became suddenly active. He wanted to see all our papers and started studying all the visas that were in our passports. Even the Chinese visa was checked thoroughly, despite the facts that it was not relevant to him and that it was completely written in Chinese.

The drivers that were behind us in the queue started to get irritated. Understandable, because everybody was waiting for this tease action to be finished. The custom official ordered us with a hand signal to drive the car more to the side, so that others could pass. By that time he was studying our Philippine visa. He was so occupied with pestering us that he completely forgot where he was paid for in the first place … keeping unwanted people and goods out of the European Union. Many cars behind us in the queue could now pass the customs without any questions asked or documents checked. Several Albanian mafia-type of people must have had the day of their lives. They crossed the border in their fancy and very expensive cars, without any issues. Cars that are probably stolen somewhere in the European Union (see also the column: ‘we don’t steal cars here’.).

After he studies our passports, he also checked the car documents thoroughly. And that wasn’t all. Afterwards he also did the job he should do; checking some boxes in our car for non-allowed items. It was a pity for him that he couldn’t find anything to keep us longer waiting. Eventually, we were allowed to enter Greece. He must really dislike Dutch and probably also German people. And maybe understandable, because he is probably one of the persons who is significantly hit by the Greek crisis. He is a well paid government worker, who has an easy job, and off course has the possibility to retire at an age of 55. And that wouldn’t take too long anymore, because he was already well in his fifties. In other words, he is one of the victims whose Greek dream bursts apart, just before the finish. And because of the fact that the Greek government has to cut spending, his luxurious salary and pension payments are probably reduced and a retirement at 55 years of age is probably also cancelled. And in his eyes, this is all because of the Dutch and Germans. And when he saw us crossing the border, he must have thought: payback time!


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