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Τhe Antetokounmpo politics

By Aris Barkas/

Giannis Antetokounmpo is not only an extremely talented but raw NBA rookie. In Greece he is also the reason for a heated political debate. The financial crisis is still a hard reality for the country, extreme right wing politics are entering the main agenda of the government and one of those politics was the abolition of the law 3838. This law was introduced by the previews government and if it was used, it would give the Greek nationality to every child born in Greek soil and raised in the country, no matter if its parents were illegal immigrants.

Antetokounmpo is one of those children, but his basketball talents gave him and his brother the Greek nationality, even under the current law because “of special services to the country”. As the Greek ministry of internal affairs clarified in a press release on Tuesday: “The nationality was given lawfully to the two young men, based on the legal provisions for stateless individuals. Those specific provisions apply to the case of children which are born in Greece and are stateless”. The ministry confirmed that the process of Antetokounmpos brothers, Giannis and Thanasis, getting the Greek nationality was fast tracked in order for him to have the legal right to be part of the NBA draft. That was the reason of his absence from Nike’s hoops summit, since he wasn’t entitled to any kind of traveling documents at the time.

Before the meeting of 18 years old Antetokounmpo with the Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras, the Greek union for human rights also issued a press release accusing the Greek state of hypocrisy: “The thousands of others who are born in Greece, have been raised and study in the country, are still stateless. They can wait. They don’t deserve to be compatriots”. And finally former prime minister Giorgos Papandreou attacked Samaras: “The prime minister and his party should have shown their support to the law 3838 of our government and not change its essence”.

As Giannis Antetokounpo is starting his professional career in the biggest stage, he can also be a symbol of change in Greece. It’s a big burden for a young man who has also to face the challenge of being an NBA player, despite having a very limited playing experience and none in the highest level. But even if his example can push things forward, it’s a gain not only socially but also personally. His two younger brothers, are still stateless.

UPDATE: Even the extreme right tried to get a piece in Antetokounmpo politics. One day after the meeting of the player with the prime minister, the leader of neonazi party Golden Dawn likened him to a ”chimpanzee” and of course the Greek basketball federation reacted.

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  • franziskus vasilios

    great report! unfortunately (or thank god) people wake up when they see a direct profit of a situation. in this case, everybody sees giannis as a greek… NBA. if he would have been caught in a small crime, he would be african. it is about time that greece will do something about the stateless people. sport opens the mind of people, it is about time. in austria to be a black man is still something you do not see very often. peopla like david alaba are still needed, even in really developed and social countries to make the immigration process quicker.

    • Phivos

      In greece there is a high percentage of foreign people compared to Greeks. In case the majority of them is going to be admitted as Greeks, then there will be a problem with the demography of the state. In addition let’s don’t forget the 1 million muslims living in Athens that most of them are guided by foreign bureaus on political issues. This means that political rights will be passed to muslims that will be a high percentage of the state. Greece is a very small state to recognise so many foreigners as nationals. Please, next time think before you laugh at Greece but this is a matter of national survival and not another racist problem. We don’t want this multinational state. We have an identity like all the European countries. We cannot absorb all these foreigners that have much higher births rate than Greeks.