Three Greek Australians have been elected to the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE/WHIA) after the Board of Directors was re-organised on April 9, 2021.
Federal MP from Australia, Steve Georganas, was elected to serve as the new 2nd Vice President of the PADEE/WHIA, while Member for Miranda, Eleni Petinos, became a first-time board member and the current Chairperson of Parks Victoria, John Pandazopoulos, was elected to the position of Honorary General Secretary.
Due to the election loss of former PADEE/WHIA President, Peter Katsambanis, who is a member of the Western Australia Parliament representing Hilarys, Rhode Island State Senator, Leonidas Raptakis, became the new President and Effie Triantafilopoulos was elevated to 1st Vice-President.
Other members of the PADEE/WHIA Board of Directors are: Stephan Pappas, a Wyoming State Senator, Labi Kousoulis of Canada, Trade and Business Minister and member of the Nova Scotia Legislature, Vagelis Haritatos, Deputy Minister for Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and a Member of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe for Muzvezve, and Dragos-Gabriel Zispol, Federal member of the National Parliament of Romania.
“This organisation is a meaningful resource for its members in this age of global communications and it will promote strong relationships between the countries that we are elected from and with Greece and Cyprus,” Ms Triantafilopoulos said in a press release.
New PADEE/WHIA President, Mr Raptakis, took the opportunity to express his disappointment in the electoral result and to honour and thank Mr Peter Katsambanis for his contribution as President of WHIA over the last four years and as 1st Vice President for two years.
“We have an opportunity to make this organisation a resource for all of its members, a vehicle for keeping Hellenes from all over the world connected to the work being done in different countries to promote issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus,” Mr Raptakis said.
“In this Information Age, we need to encourage vigorous discussions and adopt policies that will put WHIA at the forefront of the effort to build bridges between our member nations.”
Australian Federal MP, Mr Georganas, also stressed the importance of the PADEE/WHIA and explained what he will bring to the organisation as the new 2nd Vice President.
“Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of issues—from Cyprus to protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other issues of concern,” Mr Georganas said.
“The PADEE/ WHIA is an important organisation for disseminating information and mobilising Greek communities all over the world.”
The PADEE/WHIA meets as a General Assembly every two years in Athens and the 13th such conference is tentatively scheduled for this July 2021 but due to COVID-19, final plans have not been announced.
The PADEE/ WHIA Board of Directors plan to meet online more frequently to build support for financial investment, education, culture and other areas of partnerships among all elected members.
Mr Raptakis said the new board will focus its energies on providing dynamic and outspoken diaspora support to Greece, as it finds itself in an increasingly tense situation with its neighbor, Turkey. The board will also endeavor to strategically aid the Hellenic Republic’s economic recovery from the pandemic by mobilising investment and other forms of financial support for Greece.
Finally, Mr Raptakis said the board will intensify the dialogue and exchanges between PADEE/WHIA, the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic, the Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad, as well as the Executive and Members of the Greek Parliament, to mutually set out meaningful objectives for effective action and collaboration.
“There are a number of serious issues facing the Greek community worldwide and I want to make sure PADEE/WHIA is giving its members the information they need to get involved in resolving these matters,” said Mr Raptakis.
“I also want to make sure that when there are challenges facing the Greek community within a particular country, Hellenes worldwide are given the chance to make a difference and offer their support.”
The PADEE/WHIA consists of approximately 85 members throughout the world and mainly comprised of 43 members from the United States, 20 members from Australia, 10 members from Canada and other members from Germany, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe and other nations.