ELIAMEP, like everyone else living in Greece, has been affected in many ways by the crisis. The Foundation has faced tremendous difficulties, even survival problems. Although the crisis is not over yet, we can say with a degree of certainty, and even perhaps with some twist of optimism, that ELIAMEP is emerging stronger from this ordeal.
As you may already know, we do not have our own trust fund, or other resources. The only property ELIAMEP owns is its premises that were acquired thanks to the generosity of two major Greek foundations who chose this way to express their confidence in our work. These premises accommodate a continuously increasing number of researchers. Before the crisis, ELIAMEP received for some years financial support from the state, mainly from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, this support never exceeded 25% of ELIAMEP’s relatively small budget. Since the crisis, the foundation has not received any support from the state. Malicious minds –that always exist- do not want or cannot imagine how we manage to achieve that much with so little money. To them I would respond that the will to contribute, the collective spirit and meritocracy can be adequate/can suffice to achieve a lot- and these are ELIAMEP’s core values.
We had to reduce wages and at the same time to seek new resources to fund our activities. And we have indeed ended up achieving much more than we did before the crisis. The majority of the people working for ELIAMEP, mostly on the younger side, are connected to specific programs. Therefore, they are getting paid as long as there is funding for those programs. We do not have the luxury of permanent research staff. Of course, the other side of the coin is that we cannot always do all the things we would like to do.
Personalities of an international caliber are using ELIAMEP as a forum to express their opinions and our own researchers are actively participating in the Greek and European public debates. With a small but carefully selected team of researchers, ELIAMEP ranks among the top 5 institutions, along with major universities, in the Socio-Economic Sciences and Humanities sector in Greece, both in terms of number and value of the projects awarded to it by the European Commission. This year we launched the Crisis Observatory, an important initiative with international outreach and financial support from the Niarchos Foundation, whereas research programs on European Union developments, the Balkans and the Middle East continue to run successfully. Furthermore, ELIAMEP’s research presence has been strengthened on migration and, more recently, energy issues.
ELIAMEP does not have its own views and most importantly it has no “line” to impose on its associates- for those used to other practices this may be something difficult to understand. If there is something common to all of us, it is the interest in and involvement with European and international issues and mainly the well established belief that Greece needs to be open to the world. Otherwise, we face the risk of suffocation.
After many years, our Board of Directors was radically renewed, while at the same time an Honorary Council was created composed of people who have offered much to ELIAMEP. Also we have recently created a Scientific Council to assist us in our research work. You may find more information in our rather popular web sites (judging by the number of visitors)www.eliamep.gr and www.crisisobs.gr .
International rankings of think-tanks put ELIAMEP at the top of the list among its counterparts in South Eastern Europe. However, this is certainly not enough for us. We have set up an International Advisory Board with the participation of distinguished personalities from around the world who can certainly contribute to the strengthening of our European and international presence.
On behalf of the Members of the Board of Directors and the staff of ELIAMEP, I would like to thank all of you for your support to our work. To our many friends from Greece and abroad, to all our donors and associates, we owe our sincere thanks and a promise that, as far as we can, we will keep working hard in order to build a strong Greece and a strong Europe and a world where differences are dealt with through dialogue and rules that equally apply to all, and not with the use of force.
Loukas Tsoukalis, President of the Board of Directors