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Munich Greeks finally get Greek school

The ground breaking ceremony for the establishment of a Greek school at Berg am Laim in Munich took place last week after a blessing by Archieratic Prelate of the Ecumenical Throne Apostolos Malamousis and the Greek Consul General in Munich, Sophia Grammata, as well as representatives and officials of the Greek German community and local officials.

The school that will cost around 26 million euros, is planned to cater to 750 students and will be ready to operate for the 2016 school year.

Thanassis Krikis, a long time resident of Munich, and for a long time an elected official with the Greek German community in Germany, as well as the parents and teachers associations. As he explains in 1997 the omogeneia in Munich founded an association named “Palladion” with sole aim of establishing a Greek school. The organization managed to solicit from local Greeks 115,000 DM, since the law then foresaw that in order to proceed with school building, an organization had to have at least 500,000 DM in its coffers.

At the time, Mr Krikis explains the Greek state was shelling out a million DM, a year, in rent for schools. In April 2001, a plot of 1.5 hectares was bought, with the Greek state having to shell over 3 million DM out of a total of 15 million DM, the rest shouldered by the German state. The plot's current value is over 10 million euros.

The Organization for School Buildings (OSK) was placed in charge of the building, but in essence as Mr Krikis notes “it was placed in charge of an orgy of waste and self-aggrandizement, with millions spent on 'studies', 'programs', models, all of which I saw with my own eyes, but a school never materialized.

At that time the area was sparsely populated, but by around 2007, Munich had grown, and the municipality of Munich wants the land for its own use. A specific clause (10-3/1551-2001) in the contract foresees that the plot returns to the Munich municipality, if building did not begin by 2012. this prompted, as Mr Krikis explains, the local Greek community to pressure the Greek government, and was given an extension for 2013. In February 2013, the Greek government pledged to provide funding to the tune of 23 million euros, from development ministry funds. This convinced the German authorities of Greek earnestness, and finally under new legal counsel. Finally the new contractor was given until 1 April to intervene and begin works, and this it did.

“What's important is that this is the last chance for the Greek state so that the inalienable right of Greeks in Germany to have a school run by the Greek state,” says Thanasis Krikis, adding “this is our dream.”

Giorgos Vlachopoulos, the legal counsel for the Greek education minister, speaking from Munich, on his part noted that PM Antonis Samaras undertook the matter into his own hands, and personally dealt with the PM of Bavaria. Mr Vlachopoulos, noted that earth moving equipment has already dug two meters into the soil for the foundation. As he noted the funding has already been allocated and a part has already been disbursed.

Mr Vlachopoulos was adamant that the school would be always under the aegis and the management of the Greek state, and the ministry of education.
So all's well that end's well, and although we have not reached the end yet, there are at least serious indications that Greek German children in Bavaria will soon have the school their community always wanted.