The President of the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), Bill Papastergiadis OAM, welcomed the Vice President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, on his first visit to the Greek Centre.
A delegation of Board of Directors of the GCM, Anthea Sidiropoulos (Vice President), Michael Karamitos (Vice President), Nick Koukouvitakis (Secretary), Vicki Kyritsis (Assistant Secretary), Dr Spiridoula Demetriou and Christos Sikavitsas, were also present.
Mr Schinas was accompanied by the Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Emmanuel Kakavelakis and EU Ambassador to Australia, Gabriele Visentin.
Mr Schinas was taken on a tour of the Greek Centre and provided with an overview of the GCM’s cultural and educational activities.
Mr Papastergiadis OAM emphasised to Mr Schinas the importance of preserving and celebrating Greek heritage in the diaspora and the evolution of the GCM, which has become a vibrant hub for Greek cultural expression with over 100 events annually.
Mr Papastergiadis stated, “Melbourne is a truly cosmopolitan city and it is a leading example of how multiculturalism is supported so as to achieve societal outcomes. As part of your role in leading the “European Way of Living,” our work in Melbourne can and should be used as part of learnings on how different communities can come together and work cooperatively.”
“It’s a great honour to have Mr Schinas with us at the Greek Centre. We extend our heartfelt thanks for his commitment to strengthening EU-Australia cooperation,” Mr Papastergiadis added.
“His emphasis on promoting the European way of life aligns seamlessly with the values cherished by the Greek diaspora and the broader Australian community.”
Ms Sidiropoulos stated, “We appreciate Vice President Schinas’ vision and commitment to promote the European way of life globally and to focus on skill development, immigration and corporation.”
Mr Kakavelakis mentioned, “It’s a great honour that Mr Schinas has visited Melbourne, and he can reflect our culture in the high-profile meetings with the Australian officials.”
Mr Karamitos also expressed his sincere gratitude to Mr Schinas and thanked him for taking time to visit the Centre.
Mr Schinas was presented a copy of the book on the history of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria from its foundation to 1972, along with a community plaque to acknowledge his visit.
Mr Schinas had a short discussion with the author of the book, Mrs Charpantidou, and Mr Schinas stated that, “through those collective efforts we are underscoring the vital importance of safeguarding and celebrating Greek heritage within the diaspora, and we can move forward.”
Mr Schinas thanked Mr Papastergiadis and the Board members for their warm hospitality, and he was deeply impressed with the GCM’s 15 storey building, noting how it was a landmark globally for all Hellenes.
“Greeks in Melbourne have a deep and important presence. What you have achieved is significant and it is equally important that your work is supported by the Australian Government,” Mr Schinas said.
The purpose of Mr Schinas’ official visit in Australia is to strengthen EU-Australia cooperation and the central to his mission is the promotion of the European way of life and the exploration of collaborative opportunities in areas such as cultural exchange, economic cooperation, and talent migration.
Drawing inspiration from the successes of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada, Mr Schinas aims to foster a dynamic labour market within the European Union through what he terms the “EU talent pool.”
“The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are ‘very powerful competitors who have straightforward avenues for third country nationals’ to immigrate and take up skilled professions, enriching their economies,” Mr Schinas noted.
In the following days, Mr. Schinas will participate in a series of events and discussions with members of the Australian government and institutional representatives, as well as engagements with members of the European-Australian Business Council to enhance skills and talent mobility, and members of the Greek diaspora in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.