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I’m in Greece on behalf of our sister publication, Traveller, sailing on the Ionian Sea with Greek-Australian Anastasis Kokkinos (I know, it’s a tough gig, but someone’s got to do it). Having endured the world’s longest set of pandemic lockdowns in Melbourne, Kokkinos woke up on New Year’s Day last year and thought “I’m going to start my own sailing tours of Greece”.
I’m aboard a lovely boat with a bunch of Australians, some on their first trip to Europe, and many on their first overseas jaunt since the pandemic.
It’s been a treat to see tiny, ancient lesser-known islands and immerse myself in Greece’s famed hospitality, food and sea.
It’s my third trip to Greece for work. Five years ago, I was dispatched to Athens to cover the shooting murder of the Sydney gangster John Macris. Then, just a few weeks ago, I returned to attend and moderate some sessions at the Economic Forum in Delphi, home to the ancient Temple of Apollo.
That trip showed me how diverse Greece is and how little I really know of the country, having been educated in Australia and, even now, living in the Northern Hemisphere. It feels rare for Greece to make the news at home unless there’s been a scandal, a crisis or it’s election time, and two of those have propelled the Hellenic Republic into headlines recently.
On the weekend, The New York Times published video showing Greek authorities abandoning migrants in the middle of the Aegean Sea, something Greece has claimed it does not do. The migrant turn-backs are in breach of European law and Greece is a member of the European Union.
The EU’s Commissioner for Migrants lva Johansson said the footage was “unacceptable” and has called on Greece to carry out an independent investigation.