The Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW and the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia have collectively sent a letter to the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias.
The letter was issued after the public was invited to participate in the consultation of the draft law “Organisation and Operation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and specifically, the intention of the Greek government to merge the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad (GGAE) with the General Secretariat of Public Diplomacy, Consuls and Consulates.
Here is the full letter in English:
On the occasion of the invitation to participate in the public consultation for the draft law “Organisation and Operation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs” and specifically, the intention of the Greek government to merge the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad (GGAE) with the General Secretariat for Public Diplomacy, Consular Affairs and Religious Affairs (CHAPTER E), we wish to express to you the collective position of the three largest Greek communities in Australia.
The autonomous General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, through its important work in every corner of the world where the Greek diaspora live, has been the most recognisable service of the Greek state among the Greek diaspora since its foundation in 1983. Tens of thousands of Greek children from the diaspora, elementary and high school students, but also students of tertiary and higher education institutions abroad, among them countless Greek children of Australia, met Greece for the first time and forged life relationships with her but also with each other, through the educational programs offered by GGAE.
Countless schools, universities and expatriate organisations around the world, including of the Greek diaspora in Australia, were supported financially, in terms of communication, and culturally from the GGAE, or had its assistance, as a mediator and coordinator of the Greek state, in their effort to resolve various issues that concerned the responsibilities of other ministries and other services of Greece. The relationship of the GGAE and its executive potential with its Greek expatriates around the world, through the autonomy of the Secretariat so far, is unmediated, substantial, productive, efficient and has offered multiple national benefits for both Greece as well as the Greeks of the Diaspora. For these reasons, we call on you to ensure the autonomy of GGAE within the framework of the new organisation and operation of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We also consider that the dialogue with expatriate organisations, asking for their own views, would be extremely helpful on any issues that concern them directly, including of course this issue. Through a collective consultation, we can explore ways to upgrade the GGAE, with the possibility of staffing it with new employees who could come from the bowels of Hellenism abroad.
From the contacts we have so far with other expatriate organisations in Australia, but also other countries of universal Hellenism, we are convinced that our appeal, as we justify it, expresses the vast majority of the Greek Diaspora.
As the deadline for submitting proposals for the proposed legislative reforms expires on 31 August 2020 we express our desire to extend the deadline, specifically for the provisions of the plan, Chapter E, concerning Hellenes Abroad, the GGAE, the composition and role of the SAE, including Article 253, which refers to the composition of the SA, in order to give the opportunity and the required time for substantial and timely consultation with the participation of all expatriate organisations around the world. We also request a personal meeting with the Secretary of GGAE to discuss our proposals and exchange views.
Thank you in advance and we hope you will heed our call.