In the opening address at the 11th General Assembly of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA), which took place at the Hellenic Parliament’s Senate Hall, Deputy Foreign Minister Terens Quick highlighted the need for reform of the functioning of the WHIA on all levels.
“With the passing of two decades and today’s election of its new Governing Board, the WHIA must carry out self-criticism and take stock of itself with regard everything it has and has not done during the two decades of its existence.
Let it consider amendments to its statutes and forms of action, in the interest of the Greek community abroad and of Greece itself,” Mr. Quick stressed, adding that
“It is very important to see young and middle-aged MPs � whether regional, federal or national � in the WHIA ranks.
Encouragement of the younger generation of the Diaspora, which has reached the third, fourth or even fifth generation, must be our common goal.
Of course there are also members of older and mature generations, who, from positions of responsibility, mainly in Greek Diaspora organizations, have much to offer through their wisdom. We have to marry this wisdom with the education and dynamism of youth. But a small portion of the diaspora � having already made its contribution and now just hanging on to positions in their respective diaspora communities � cannot continue, in many areas of the world, to hold back our Greek communities.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Quick also presented, for the first time, a scheme for encouraging the creation of a Global Network of Greeks Abroad who are serving as elected officials in local governments, whether they be mayors or sit on municipal councils.
“There are elected mayors � like Mr. Alahouzos and Mr. Kritikos, in Tampa, Florida � in many countries. People involved in local government have greater access to local communities. Their constituencies are not necessarily members of the Greek community. They are native citizens or citizens with roots in other countries. These are the people among whom we need to promote Greece on all levels. National issues, cultural issues, greek products, promotion of tourism, etc.
In short, a WHIA that functions properly on governmental levels, and a Global Network of Greeks Abroad serving in local government, with access to local communities. This is a combination that can succeed through good coordination.”
Mr. Quick referred to the upcoming bill on the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, again stressing that, by law, it will be self-regulated and self-funded.
“I wish we could change the name of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), which, I am told by many Greeks abroad, brings to mind bad memories, particularly in latter years,” Mr. Quick observed. “Unfortunately, the name is established in the Constitution, but of course there is room for amendments via the Constitutional revision.”
At this point, the Deputy Foreign Minister referred to the discrete roles of the State and the Church, noting that there is no legislative involvement in the SAE bill. The two “branches” of the Diaspora � that is, Organizations and the Church � will be fellow travellers, but they will be involved in actions that both deem necessary for the interests of the Greek community abroad.
“No one can deprive the Church of its role. In any country where Greek immigrants arrived, the first thing they did was to arrange for the building of a church; the creation of a parish around which they could rally. As the years passed, the parishes became Communities, then Brotherhoods, then Associations, then Federations.
The Church, Orthodoxy, to be more precise, was and still is a strong bridge between the Diaspora and the homeland.”
Mr. Quick then referred to the voting issue, making assurances that work is already under way on a government level, in a follow-up to the corresponding work done by the Parliament’s Diaspora Affairs Committee.
“The issue of voting rights for Greeks abroad falls within the competency of the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry’s Secretary General, Kostas Poulakis, has already made important public statements,” Mr. Quick said, closing his speech with special reference to the young people who have left Greece in the ‘brain drain’ and to the action plans for capitalising on their presence abroad; action plans being drawn up jointly by the Secretaries General of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Development.
Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic