Greece and Egypt have an over 4.000 years long and well-known history of uninterrupted mutual economic exchange and migration flows, ‘landmarked’ through the centuries by the presence of Egyptian temples in Greece and cities like Alexandria in Egypt. The last contemporary period of massive Greek immigration to Egypt dates back to the early 1900ies up to their significant return back to Greece during the 60ies, while the reverse migration-flow of Egyptians to Greece is a more recent phenomenon; this has started as a milder and selective move of middle-to-upper class Egyptians, mostly businessmen, learned society members and students that have managed to settle afterwards in Greece as professionals. Migration to Greece, took a massive turn with the unskilled labour migration flow of the late 1970ies until to date. Egyptians migrate in ascending numbers to fill labour gaps in the fields of Shipping, Industry, Fishing- Aquaculture and finally Agriculture. Nowadays there are even yearly bilateral agreements for the orderly seasonal supply of labour destined to cover Greece’s agricultural needs.


The presence of over several thousands of Egyptian migrants working on a regular and irregular status in Greece, with a stratification of skills that extend from the unskilled worker up-to- the successful professional and businessman, when coupled with the settlement both in Greece and in Egypt of an organized and thriving Greek emigrant community that self- defines as being ‘Egyptiot Greeks’ and still keeps a very strong and positive social memory and good business relations with Egypt, poses in front of us and our experienced Greek partner active in Egypt, a challenge relative to the above project. In a ‘nutshell’, we have for the case of Egyptian migration to Greece, what we believe to be an accumulation of most promising circumstances for the launching of a successful project and a rare opportunity to attain good results while attempting to tackle at a pilot demonstration scale, some of the thematic aspects designated by the present EU-UN call linked to migration capacities.

 

Problem area addressed and its scope

Our temptation was to include in the present project all those migrant Egyptians residing in Greece in the two key fields of our competence: Agriculture and Aquaculture-Fisheries. However, we have readily concluded, that even for the basic activities of mapping and registration of migrant capacities involved, such a scope largely outpaces the project’s budgetary limits. We have therefore opted to target only on one of our fields of competence: Aquaculture within the overall fisheries context, considering that we should not ignore the interplay between a growing aquaculture field and the traditional open-sea fisheries when dealing with the associated ‘human capital’ capacities. In Egypt, Aquaculture is an immerging and much promising field with an excellent potential for sustainable development. But today’s rapid growth is mainly inhibited by the lack of capacities in human, entrepreneurial, financial and social capital, while in Greece, - a key player in Mediterranean Aquaculture/Mariculture with its in open-sea fishing activities saturated and its sea fish stocks depleted-, for more than two decades a great part of the personnel in open sea fishing operations and a significant part of it in the aquaculture labour, are of Egyptian origin.

The scope of our activities in this project has been the exploitation of such a migrant employment relation to the win-win of involved people and both countries: Thousands of unskilled Egyptian workers have been trained and continue to acquire skills in the fields of Aquaculture and Fisheries in Greece while the Greek aquaculture industry is in the phase of consolidation and international expansion, actively seeking for investments abroad and for technology transfer opportunities.