Good Night Greece

April 3, 2012by sfykActivities

Good Night Greece. George Gounalakis (founder and partner at Europlan real estate developers) wrote an article about the situation here in Greece and the way that the world perceives the country and its county folk. The article itself described the feelings of Mr. Gounalakis upon his return from an Award Ceremony held in London the past November. The ceremony itself should have been a time for celebration for the good work which we achieved as a company. However it gave Mr. Gounalakis the time to reflect on the opinions of foreigners to our country as a whole and left him with a bitter taste in his mouth. Instead of basking in glory for the achievements, he was faced with an onslaught of criticism and pessimistic remarks for the way Greece has handled its finances and economic situation. Of course this was not the sole responsibility of Mr. Gounalakis but with the international community distrusting Greece, he seemed to be a good source to vent their anger. Mr. Gounalakis, a forward thinking manager, had the insight many years ago to try to establish the company as internationally acclaimed. Thinking that by expanding the boundaries of the company internationally it would bring about greater awareness of Crete, he took the company to many exhibitions and entered many international awards. This proved to be very successful and led to great things for the company. However the last few years showed a big decrease in the number of competitors from Greece, until it came to a point when the company stood alone in the field. The last award ceremony saw Mr. Gounalakis standing alone representing Greece and led many of the other participants questioning why he was there at all. With the country in such a terrible state, why should he be there trying to promote it? Of course he didn’t think for a moment that this would be the reaction he would receive but slowing he started to feel ashamed of being Greek and for the first time he would have been proud to say he was from anywhere but his debt riddled country. For the first time Mr. Gounalakis held his head in shame. Not for what he had achieved but what the country had done to the reputation he had spent many years trying to build. Greece would now be labeled as a black spot on the face of Europe and it would take many years to reestablish its credibility. With credibility gone what can we do as a company? We can only do what we have always tried to achieve. Show the world that we can be organized, we can be trusted, we can deliver a product to the same standard as the rest of the world; try to be better than the current image of Greece. That is all we can do. We will also hold our heads high when we receive our awards and if we have to stand alone, then so be it. As a company we will show that we are not ready to give up like the rest of the world thinks we should do. It may be Goodnight Greece…but it will never be Good Night Europlan. After writing his article and publishing it in the local newspaper, Mr. Gounalakis was asked to speak about the article on the local television channel TVCRETA. The video below shows the highlights of that interview. GOODNIGHT GREECE by George Gounalakis This letter is written at London Gatwick airport, waiting to board my return to Greece. Initially I had decided not to disclose nor even discuss my thoughts all these days but they tortured me instead of filling me with positive energy coming back from the award which we obtained as a company they made me troubled, disappointed and disgusted about all this and how we ended up that way. With that in mind I decided to publish my thoughts. Let’s take things from scratch. A few years ago, namely somewhere in 2004 I read and reread the huge demand that existed in Greece from Europeans who wish to acquire a house in the South, a residence in a place with sun and sea. Even then spoke with particular numbers indicating that 1,000,000 homes will demand five years from northern Europeans. So reading all this started the idea of ​​international visibility of our company, investing significant sums in our participation in international exhibitions and competitions, always the secret hope that maybe one day we too we be able to join the international field of construction and manufacturers, expanding clientele and slowly creating the brand name of our company. The truth is that the effort started very strongly, but from the beginning we were constantly frustrated because inside we heard about the grand plans of our policies for the holiday home in Greece and when we went abroad to participate in exhibitions, etc., just enjoy our loneliness. We are talking about absolute loneliness after all these years the Greek presence in international exhibitions and was infinitesimal and oftentimes felt to be surrounded by Turkish flags since the presence of our neighbors was and still is important. Also important – very important in my opinion – is the presence of Cyprus which the policy of the summer house has managed to attract international investment and most interesting chapters million flooded the island and move the local economy, since – as you know – the stranger who would buy holiday home in the local market is moving, inviting friends, some of which are hosted by him and others staying in local hotels. Last opened other markets that are moving quickly indeed and very smart in this area and I speak for Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia. Countries that until a few years ago were at war, managed to recover to read correctly the messages of the global market economy and open wings for a development policy based on the summer house. Does not matter that the Montenegrin prime minister is just 35 years? Perhaps it has its own importance. Over the years since then, and in Greece were held constant meetings to holiday home and with such frequency and such seriousness that we too did not know themselves what will happen to demand that we as a country (!) Without course we can see anything changing in the market. And while this was happening at home, abroad, the messages were increasingly alarming. At the time that we spoke at home for the ardent desire of Europeans – and not only – to invest in Greece, traveling abroad and participating in international events related to the holiday home watching world that the climate was completely different from what our politicians and proclaimed these hangers. Things were just outside. This will change your mindset as Greeks and establish a permanent and fair tax system and a clear urban landscape or will never see real investment in your country. So much for telling us since 2004. We on our optimistic – as Greeks – now assured that things will change, “the Olympic Games were held with great success will be the springboard for all these changes” – assure them then. Certainly at this point to say that even when it cites the success of the Olympics, we all say that the success of the games are not only the moral part, is the economic and pointed us repeatedly that the piece that failed miserably and this will we see that it’s time to pay back the bonds with which we did projects for which we had no management plan from the games and beyond. Did we fall into prophets and we had to evaluate their credibility or maybe just “stole church” – in wise folk saying – just because they knew the obvious … for which the Greek prime minister spoke later and even talked about the revolution the obvious (we knew what he was saying ;). With them and with them passed the time, in 2008 we managed to squeeze two international awards for our studies in the area of ​​Agios Nikolaos and the award ceremony … one of the same. Two Greek entries and even two from Crete, Cyprus and of course many many Turkish. We did not give up. You see the prizes you give moral satisfaction and continues to struggle with more force and momentum. In late 2008 the crisis begins to show its teeth and Greece, the banks … lock, and a course do not forget that the 1,000,000 Europeans desperately seeking holiday home in Greece never appeared. The market then begins to freeze, the investment interest of any kind disappears from the scene and the national depression is emerging day by day, leaving more and stronger signs. Within this environment was still trying in the international arena having physical redesign our tactics and of course the funds available for promoting and participating in international exhibitions. Thus, within this explosive mix for the business but also for the Greeks in general is the happy new re-awarding of our company for a study area of ​​Kalo Chorio. Full of smiles and the hope for a few days to savor the joy of success came to London for the ceremony and a speech about the cottage / holiday home in Greece. You see sometimes, dreams are a lot of reality and unfortunately when you realize that it hurts a lot. But let us see things in their turn. On Thursday, September 22 my speech was scheduled for the venue, having an audience with the real estate people, representatives of investment fund, investors and ordinary Britons who were interested in the acquisition of holiday homes around the world. The first “chill” when it was announced that the speaker would be Greek. Edges of the grave silence and some of them smiled with ironic smile at the fact that the speaker was Greek (as though wondering how he has managed and came here). Needless to say there was no Greek presence only so many Cypriots, who were the ones who ultimately applauded after the initial freeze. I hope you can perceive the extremely difficult position in which I was. But finishing my speech was the final blow. Everybody in the room – admittedly exairoumenos Cypriots – attacked the policy pursued by Greece to the issue of holiday homes, all ridiculed in one way or another in our country. It was a disappointing moment and a moment I did not want anyone to know that I am Greek. Everyone knew the retractions of Mrs. Birbili, everyone knew about the legalization of arbitrary and with rotagan about when I will become the next, everyone knew about the urban sprawl of the country and at the end everyone knew about the problems facing anyone who has invest in Greece. It was the moment I felt that I would disappear from the face of the earth in any way and if this could be done. The loneliness in all its glory …! The Speakers after me were from Montenegro and a Londoner . Amazing presentation of the country, with particular reference to two sites that have joined the list of Unesco, with particular reference to the young prime minister, with excellent reviews of the way of reception and treatment of investors and of course with special reference to the tax regime for funds invested in country from abroad. Alongside several tips for what were heard for Greece and concluded that compared with Greece, Montenegro is a safe investment destination. The same followed for many other countries like Portugal, Spain, etc. The day – good or ill-spent, I returned to the hotel and decided to forget everything and prepare for the next day, the day of award. Actually the next morning, I returned to the “crime scene”, now everyone knew where I was and all came to wish me good luck in the difficult moments that passes the country. As if I was a close relative of the victim during the exit sequence … But the disappointment did not say to finish. When I saw the works that all other countries had and that winning the one I felt an incredible pride that we too have managed to be part of this festival, on the other hand I felt a bitterness as all other countries had harbors, marinas , incredible investment in residential towns and country houses, skyscrapers, etc., and in them, and Greece as a poor relation to a house in Crete. As if the achievement is huge for us I can not believe that Greece is absent from such events. And finally I do not want to believe that Greece presents Internationally this tragic figure. I can not believe that architecture is not produced in Greece. But the question is “Where are we as a country?”. Where we step, we are in any event-oriented. At this point, to remember a quote from an interview with architect Alexandros Samaras – three years ago, who said then: “The built environment is a result of all that we build a framework to excessive legislation, a division of responsibilities, decisions taken by a mentality of Public Employees managers with limited education, knowledge, imagination, perceptions and lack of common sense. ” Truth telling how many truths then, even if the crisis does not even exist, and of course at a time when few spoke in this way. Nevertheless, it is a shame to say GOODNIGHT GREECE. It’s a shame to miss the train, one behind the other. It is a shame as a people to give them the right and engage us. It’s a pity we underestimate how we underestimate and unfortunately they’re right to do so. It’s a shame we all can say something to be silent and to obtain step in Greece people without personality and international experiences. Enough, enough is enough, enough is enough! Disgusted by everything that happens in our country, disgusted by the picture I saw in London for our country, disgusted by the fact that I felt ashamed that I am Greek. I could say much more, but the flight is no joke and believe me I do not want another to stay here and ask me where I am and to offer one’s condolences! GOODNIGHT … GREECE GEORGE GOUNALAKIS Civil Engineer gounalakis@europlan.gr PS Eventually the knocks are endless. The flight leaves 3 hours late, the company announced the delay due to the strike of air traffic controllers, people strongly resent and fellow passenger sitting next to me along with his wife asks me if I am Greek and then asks me about the situation in Greece, and he gives me the courage to turn away! Fortunately I came to Greece and ceased their condolences, but still continues the mournful atmosphere …

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