According to recent data released by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the city center of Athens has seen an increase in businesses closing due to the economic crisis facing Greece over the past several years.
The report breaks down the businesses in operation in the neighborhoods of Omonia, Metaxourgeio, Psyrri, and Victoria, Vathis and Koumoundourou squares showing that the majority of businesses in these areas are owned by immigrants.
In fact, Albanians own some 567 shops in the center of Athens, while 456 are owned by Chinese, 202 by Syrians, 124 by Egyptians, 122 by Pakistanis and 92 by Poles.
The financial crisis has made it very difficult for many businesses to stay open as Syrian immigrant and small-business owner, Arat Uhan told Kathimerini.
“As job opportunities became more scarce and (the immigrants) found it increasingly tough to make ends meet, many decided to move to Central Europe,” he said.
Some local residents worry that as businesses close the immigrants that are left unemployed will turn to crime and drugs with very little opportunity for much else.
“Security has become a constant concern for those who live in the center. I have lived near Koumoundourou Square for many years. Every day I see people selling or doing drugs inside the park. There is no control,” Vasso Nikolopoulou, president of Panathinaia, a local residents’ association told Kathimerini.