I have a friend; let's call him John, also of Greek descent, who runs a successful accounting firm.
He is kind, smart, generous and devoted to his wife & young daughters.
He also has a soft spot for the land of his ancestors & decided to invest in a commercial building & hotel.
"Maybe," he thought, "I can create jobs & a small measure of prosperity."
To that end, the past two years he has tried to secure Greek citizenship.
John's experience provides another (sad) lesson in value & waste and a warning to all nations.
There but for good governance & management go we...
John spent a year trying to negotiate the foggy maze that is the Greek embassy & consulates in Canada.
After a year of frustration, he ended up writing to the Ambassador & at last, was "put on the fast track".
His Odyssey took him to Athens where he hired a lawyer to help him navigate the treacherous bureaucratic waters.
His lawyer advised him to go to his parents’ home town and register the necessary documents there with the Ministry of Citizenship - per Greek law.
At the local Ministry office he was passed from clerk to clerk -- five transfers in all -- till he arrived back where he started from.
The clerk in question just smiled, "as if she knew it was all a game."
Finally, she said, "Actually, you have to go to the Ministry's state office."
At the Ministry's state office it was deja vu all over again. Run-around, delay, multiple hand-offs - and more frustration and cost.
Finally, the Ministry state office supervisor said, "Actually, you have to go to the Ministry office in Athens."
John, beside himself by now. He had spent two years pursuing citizenship for altruistic reasons - with little to show.
He called his lawyer on her cell phone. She too was apoplectic and read out the relevant sections of citizenship laws.
"Sorry, there's nothing I can do," replied the supervisor.
"At that point," John said, "it dawned on me that I'd been played from the beginning."
"The only way to move my application forward was to provide an envelope (fakelaki). And that's when I got disgusted and left. I will never invest in Greece."
Sad, no? Is it surprising the Greek economy is in free fall?
What lessons can we learn?
Look for my next blog.