So, customs is more efficient?
Boutaris: Yes, much more efficient. The second one is tax office. I have to say that closing the local tax office and moving it to the capital of our country—it is definitely better for the government, and it is definitely better for me who is paying taxes. Maybe not so good for the local tax evader. The third one is the Department of Agriculture, suddenly they want to work with you. They want you to do well. They ask you, “How were sales?” or the bring the papers to your place and help you to fill them in. It's unbelievable.
You know how that sounds? We experienced this, in a way, when there was the reunification, when the East German way of governance was confronted with capitalism. Suddenly and out of the blue they started to be interested in the people.
Constantakopoulos: There was a very ineffective person responsible for granting visas. A minister, I don’t want to say the name, asked him, “Why don’t you issue more visas?”, and he said, “I thought I was here to protect the borders and have less people come.” (Laughter) That’s how it worked before.
Boutaris: Unfortunately, for the last 20 years, we had this subsidy culture in agriculture that has completely ruined the whole sector. I mean, it is the most normal thing to do it—to grow crops. Everything grows. We are blessed by that. But these guys just waited for subsidies.
Boutaris: From Brussels or from the local government. This has changed a lot now. We have ambitious young farmers who are really understanding the final product. They are growing grapes. I can say now: “If I buy your grapes, if you want price, I need the best quality.”
They understand perfectly that the final product is connected to the crop they grow. It used to be “I demand a good price at any quality, and I don’t care what you are going to make with my product.“ All of this was a wrong product of the “subsidy culture”. It could not survive.
How is the atmosphere on the countryside?
Boutaris: If you go there, you think it's a regular place. This is one of the crazy things in Greece. When you go out at night, everybody is happy. Also, they own their houses. Everybody lived together, having as little as five hectars of peach trees that would supplement to the income. So it is still this simple way of live that has glued together the greek community, especially on the countryside. However, we still have Bulgarian and Albanian workers. Still, the Greeks will not come to work on the farm.
I was in Peloponnese, and there was the citrus-crop. Buses with workers from Romania and from Albania on every hook. I did not see one Greek on the fields, and that is difficult to explain to Germans.
Boutaris: Although I have to say that this year was the first time that I had like three greek guys in their 50s, they came and started doing day jobs, because they really needed the 35 Euros wages. Young people still won’t come though, and this again is a mentality coming from the family - the father, who is a worker, who is a farmer, doesn’t want to see his children being farmers. He wants to see his kid being a lawyer. This has changed lately as well, now the father is proud to see his son working on the farm.