• Sweden edition
 
Malmö Eurovision Countdown
'The booze won't be free even if Greece wins'

'The booze won't be free even if Greece wins'

Published: 11 Apr 2013 08:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Apr 2013 08:16 GMT+02:00

In the latest in a series profiling different communities in Malmö as the city prepares to host the Eurovision Song Contest, The Local's Patrick Reilly talks to Greeks in Malmö to find out where their loyalties lie.

Can Greece count on the support of Malmö's nearly 600 Greek-Swedes next month when the southern Swedish city hosts the Eurovision Song Contest? Well, not likely, as many of them say there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There's certainly no lack of home sickness in Malmö's 580-strong Greek community, the city's 31st largest immigrant group, but it hasn't translated into unwavering patriotism when it comes to performing a winning tune at next month's Eurovision Song Contest.

"I'll be supporting Greece as the song is pretty catchy unlike the usual garbage," Anastasia Laskari Gustafsson, 36, tells The Local.

However, her concerns about an unlikely Greek win are financial. The winner of Eurovision usually goes on the host the following year's event. And the events are usually star-studded, extravagant affairs and Gustafsson says such a bash is simply beyond Greece's means at present.

"I mean.... we are still paying for the Olympics in 2004."

Laskari Gustafsson swapped her native Patras for Malmö in 2009 before the worst of the financial crisis hit her home country. Many Greeks have followed in her tracks to find work in Sweden, but Laskari's reason was more personal - love.

"I'm from the third largest city in Greece which is by the sea and came to the third biggest in Sweden which is also by the sea. It was meant to be," she tells The Local at the home in the heart of Malmö that she shares with her husband Andreas.

Gustafsson has been keeping an eye on the news in Greece, ever since the country was engulfed in a debt crisis that has resulted in mass unemployment and emigration.

"I feel really sad and also angry at the failings by both the people and the politicians that put Greece in such a mess. Now we are paying the price."

The 36-year old says leaving her family behind was difficult, but freely admits that Sweden is the right place for her, particularly as she recently became a mother. Home, though, is never far from her thoughts.

"I'm the only daughter in a traditional Greek family. Our customs are that the daughter takes on the role of caring for the parents in old age but now that I am here that can't happen," she says.

"It's hard for them with me being so far away."

A Greek win at Eurovision would be a surprise and perhaps unwelcome one given the current economic situation. Greece has triumphed just the once - back in 2005 - and will compete this year with a song entitled Alcohol Is Free.

Article continues below

Malmö has its fair share of Greek restaurants with one of the best run by Irini Borglin, 58. She embarked on her own Swedish adventure at the age of 40. A native from the island of Leros, she hasn't looked back since coming here with her late husband.

Borglin decided to face the bitter winters of Skåne to give her children a better chance of furthering their education. Despite early struggles with the language, she was able to start up her own business.

"In Sweden it doesn't matter what you have done before you came here, so you have to start from scratch," she says matter-of-factly at her Kamaki restaurant in western Malmö.

"The city authorities gave me a loan to get the business off the ground. Without their support this restaurant wouldn't exist," she adds.

She says Greece has one lesson to learn from Sweden.

"Pay tax."

At the same time, however, Borglin admits that at times she feels the taxes in Sweden add up and she has worked so hard her health has been affected. At the moment, however, her despair is reserved for what is happening back home.

"Greece was better off with the drachma. Are we supposed to repay the bailout money with yoghurt and feta cheese? The crisis was inevitable."

Now a Swedish citizen, Borglin says she has no intention of returning to Leros when retirement beckons in seven years. Her compatriots could learn something from her adopted land she says with a smile.

"In Sweden people are very calm and responsible but in Greece it is quite chaotic. The mentality in Greece was to take and take without giving anything back so it wasn't a surprise there was so much tax evasion going on," she explains.

"Using your brain and working hard will take you far in Sweden."

As for the imminent Eurovision finals, the expat Greek laughs at the title of the song her country will perform at the Malmö Arena - Alcohol Is Free.

"The alcohol won't be free at my restaurant even if Greece wins," she quips

By numbers: a snapshot of Malmö's Greek population

-580 Greek-born residents living in Malmö

-Greeks are the 31st largest nationality group living in Malmö

-114 Greek-born residents have moved to Malmö in last three years

-43 Greek-born people who have left Malmö in last three years

-13,205 Greek-born people living in Sweden

-3,166 Greek-born residents have moved to Sweden in last three years

Figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån -SCB)

Patrick Reilly

Follow Patrick on Twitter here

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Advertisement:
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

712
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com