Christos Stylianides: Greeks abroad are not second-class Greeks

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By Nick Siriodis.

The presence of Christos Stylianides in Greece’s Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection was the “passport” in order for him to be on the ballot for New Democracy. Mr Stylianides was called by Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a pivotal moment to take a particularly key position in government at the time. He declares himself a soldier and ready to help in any way, as no one is redundant in the struggle for Greece to progress.

Representing Greeks of the diaspora on the blue ballot, the Cypriot politician is a man who is well aware of the agenda regarding the Greeks abroad and is the duly qualified person to give a series of answers that concern Greek diaspora. Mr Stylianides spoke exclusively to The Greek Herald a few days before the second polls and emphasised that Greeks abroad are not second class, nor should they be treated as such.

Among other things, he stated that the aim is to promote a safe and reliable electronic voting system, as it exists in all modern states, and in addition, the adoption of postal voting will be considered, since this is the mandate of Mitsotakis. At the same time, he emphasised that Australia is an important strategic partner of Greece and thanked the crews of Australian pilots who in recent years have been coming to Greece every summer to strengthen the country’s firefighting capabilities. Finally, he said that the Australian community has had a great and multifaceted contribution to the long-term building of ties between Greece and Australia.

Although Australia has a very large number of expatriates, those registered on the electoral rolls were a few hundred. What are your thoughts of the diaspora voting law?

There is no doubt that the initiative of Kyriakos Mitsotakis to institutionalise the vote of expatriate Greeks is a reform with a symbolic and substantial character. It is a political act that makes it clear that Greeks abroad are not second-class Greeks. That the issues that concern them are not of minor importance and there is a will to deal with them methodically and effectively in close cooperation with the diaspora so that they can play a more active role in the political life of Greece. It is a fact that there have been obstacles and difficulties, which the Mitsotakis government tried to deal with.

Mr Stylianides.

However, with the passing of the law, an important step was taken in a long-standing request of the diaspora Greeks. It was the first step. Of course, there is room for improvement and simplification of the legislative framework, so that it becomes possible for the largest possible number of diaspora Greeks to participate in the electoral procedures without unreasonable exclusions. Our purpose is to promote a secure and reliable electronic voting system, as it exists in all modern states. In addition, we will consider the adoption of postal voting. This is the mandate of Mitsotakis. Personally, I will work with my colleagues and contribute with all my strength so that the legislative framework allows the greatest possible participation of diaspora Greeks in the electoral process.

Is Australia a minor strategic ally for Greece? I ask because geographically it is very far away and may not be on the “frontline” of interest, although it is a country with a very strong Greek element.

In the modern era of the technological and communication revolution, geographical distance cannot be considered an obstacle between Greece and Australia. The historical ties of the two countries, which are actively fuelled by the Greek diaspora of Australia, are stable and strong over time. The large Greek community is extremely lively and dynamic, with a valuable and multidimensional contribution to the political, social, economic and cultural development of the country. It also functions as a bridge of friendship and cooperation between two countries. Therefore, Australia is an important strategic partner for Greece.

Greek Australian relations are based on common universal values: respect and defence of the principles of Democracy and Freedom, respect for the Rule of Law and Human Rights. This value framework is the basis on which the already close relations between the two countries develop both bilaterally and in the context of international organisations, as was confirmed during the recent visit of the Governor General of Australia to Greece and the meetings he had with Greece’s President and the Greek Prime Minister.

The large number of Greek diaspora but also the increased tourist flow of Australians, brought back the operation of the EOT office in Melbourne. Should we expect even more joint actions between the two countries in the next four years?

The reopening of the EOT office in Melbourne is yet another tangible proof of the strategic importance of Australia and our will to further develop the relations between the two countries. But let me also refer to the demanding field of Civil Protection and in particular forest firefighting where I have personal experience and involvement as the former Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection. I feel particularly satisfied that during my term, Greece-Australia cooperation on these issues was upgraded and strengthened.

Mr Stylianides speaks with The Greek Herald.

We further promoted the exchange of know-how and good practices in matters of prevention and response to emergencies due to natural disasters. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the crews of Australian pilots who in recent years have been coming to Greece every summer to strengthen our country’s firefighting capabilities. So, our will for even greater support is a given and we want to broaden the scope of our cooperation to address common global challenges, such as the consequences of the climate crisis.

After a successful stint at the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection you found yourself on the ND ballot in an elected position. I would like you to tell me in which field you could offer the most.

My participation in the ballot of the New Democracy, representing the Greeks of the diaspora, is a great honour and responsibility. Just as it was when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis asked me to help his ambitious reform project for the modernisation of the state and for Greece to regain its credibility at the European and international level. I could only support the innovative initiative of Mitsotakis to create the new Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, which highlights a pioneering approach: the direct connection between the Climate Crisis and of Civil Protection. The challenge was enormous and I am particularly satisfied that this innovation is yielding practical results and was recognised at an international and European level with very positive comments.

I accepted the invitation-challenge of Kyriakos Mitsotakis to be on the ND ballot, representing the Greeks of the diaspora, because I consider it a historical necessity for Kyriakos Mitsotakis to continue to be at the helm of Greece. To advance and accelerate the great effort that began four years ago and to continue the reform work. To continue the upgrading and strengthening of all Hellenism on the European and world stage.

I am a simple soldier for the implementation of the reform project of Mitsotakis, so that Greece and Hellenism can recover the lost ground in terms of their international and geopolitical presence, in a time of geopolitical instability and uncertainty. For me, politics was not and is not a profession. I never perceived it as a “career” nor the posts as an end in themselves. It is simply the vehicle and the possibility to serve my principles, the European ‘project.’ And of course to promote a series of strategic goals in the interest of all Hellenism. After all, I am a Greek from Cyprus. Guided by this fundamental understanding, I will continue to work with Mitsotakis, as he asks me to, in order to complete the great reform effort.

Mr Stylianides with Kyriakos Mitsotakis (left).

In 2027, four years from today, how do you envision Greece? What are the main goals that Mitsotakis government wants to fulfil?

At this critical moment, we must operate with realism and rationality. Without complacency in the face of the great challenge of tomorrow, let’s make bold actions. To keep Greece on the dynamic way of development and security. Transforming the steps we took in the past four years in leaps and bounds. The road to reform and modernisation of the state is long and difficult. That’s why we need Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his solid and reliable leadership, with which he changed the profile of the country for the better.

Based on the international and European experience I have gained over the years, I tell you that Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been recorded as a reliable European and international personality, who is an added value for Greece and all Hellenism. It would be a mistake to underestimate this finding and its importance for the Greek economy, investments, the influence of Greece and Hellenism in European and international institutions.

It is, therefore, of crucial importance to continue what Kyriakos Mitsotakis started: essential reform sections that consolidate the country’s Western and European character and ultimately strengthen its role and self-confidence. And, of course, they upgrade it geopolitically. They make it a reliable partner in the European Union, a reliable ally in NATO and a factor of stability in the south-eastern Mediterranean region. In the elections, Greek citizens, including the Greeks in the diaspora, are invited to vote for a strong government. For a government with a strong mandate that can ensure that the project that started will not only continue but will be accelerated. Dynamic, bold and stable. Having Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the helm – a leader with political weight and international credibility.

Finally, please send a message to the Greek community in Australia.

The Greek community in Australia has a greatly contributed to the creative cooperation and the timeless building of ties between our countries. I repeat that both Kyriakos Mitsotakis and I personally and my colleagues will work with the Diaspora Greeks to upgrade this relationship and to give diaspora the tools they needs to continue their vital work promoting the interests of all Hellenism. Our goal is common: to consolidate a modern institutional relationship of the Greek state with all of Hellenism. Elections concern us all. All Greeks inside and outside Greece. Therefore, I invite you to participate in the polls on June 24, sending a clear message that Greeks abroad are not second class Greeks. They participate and claim the equal role they are entitled to in the affairs of Hellenism.

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