Africa & Near/Middle East Region
Konstantinos Pistikos (Maroko)
Michael Antoniadis (Saudia Arabia)
Charalambos Katsimbris (Egypt)
Nikolaos Ninos (Jerusalem)
SAE Africa and Near/Middle East Region comprises of historical Greek communities and organizations with a long presence and important role in the area. Their strong presence made a difference in this part of the world and never ceased to promote and honor Greece and Hellenism in general.
The Region’s member-organizations represent 27 African, Near and Middle East countries while an effort is underway to trace more Greek expatriates in other countries in the region as well. Members come from Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya, Cameroon, Congo, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Burundi, Botswana, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Tunisia. The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, founding members since 1995, are also represented, as well as Cypriot organizations POMAK/PSEKA.
The historical communities in Egypt, the dynamic Greek community in South Africa, the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the communities and organizations, the young Greeks in the Middle East, North Africa and Central and Southern Africa all made a difference in their host countries compared to other ethnic groups and were distinguished for their actions, historical course and overall presence.
In almost all countries mentioned, Hellenism was, and in many of them continues to be, actively involved in the political scene, while playing a notable role in the sectors of business, commerce and education.
People-based organized communities first appeared roughly 165 years ago whereas the Church had its own independent course and activity. The paths followed were common, supplementary and often parallel. For roughly 100 years, Hellenism grew rapidly socially, politically and culturally. The Greeks living in the region built schools, hospitals, homes for the elderly and sports stadiums, they founded sports clubs, local organizations, benevolent societies and student associations. This is the heritage on which organized Hellenism is still based.
This organizational model proved to be very successful and still contributes to maintaining a positive and effective atmosphere of cooperation, support and shared course on issues of great concern for the Greek communities and the Church.
The establishment and operation of SAE Asia-Africa Region in December 1995, until December 2006 when it was replaced by the Africa-Near and Middle East Region, was readily accepted by most of organized Hellenism in the region’s countries. Cooperation is close, while a number of distinguished Greeks who live in the region but chose to remain outside Greek organizations have also joined in. This is still the beginning but results will hopefully be gratifying.
The diptych language-youth continues to be a top priority for SAE Africa-Near/Middle East Region and all actions are focusing on it. The main goal is to encourage substantive participation of Greek communities in the political scene of the host countries, a move of multiple gains for all sides.
The Region’s Action Plan approved by the Coordinating Council and submitted to the SAE Presiding Board has a follows:
PROGRAMME 1 – ADMINISTRATION
Virtuous management of the Region Office in compliance with existing legislation and in accordance with good administration principles.
• Compliance with existing legislation.
• Transparent and responsible management of the region and organizations.
• Region Coordinating Council Rules of Operation.
• Productive and effective management that meets the goals set and is responsive to the needs of the organization, its members and the Greek State.
• Establishment of Advisory Committee in each Region comprising of distinguished personalities selected within the framework of SAE.
PROGRAMME 2 – EDUCATION
The wider use and preservation of the Greek language and cultural identity through Greek language teaching programmes.
• Cooperation with the ministry of education.
• Support community schools and implement a Ministerial Decision on “the appointment of Greek expatriates and Greek immigrants in education units abroad”, a move that will solve many of the problems plaguing our schools.
• Support the Greek Studies Departments.
• Continue cooperation with the “Alexander S. Onassis” Public Benefit Foundation on the Greek language teaching programmes launched in the region 3 years ago.
• Financial support to Greek language teaching programmes using new technology.
• Scholarships for students wishing to study in Greece and later return to their country of residence to teach.
• Encourage and support Hospitality and Student/Research Scientist Exchange Programmes.
PROGRAMME 3 – NETWORKS
The broadest possible participation of Greek communities in the networks depending on their area of interest and action.
• Establishment and operation of Networks for the young (top priority), entrepreneurs, academics and women.
• Adoption of network rules of operation within the framework of the Region and under the authority of the Coordinating Council and the Regional Assembly.
• Creation of data base and establishment of action plan for each network supplementary to the Region’s objectives and actions.
PROGRAMME 4 – COMMUNICATION
Ensure the region’s accessibility.
• Upgrade the region’s telecommunications technology.
• Upgrade its website ad ensure continuous news flow and renewal.
• Adopt a strategy on the region’s mass media, as part of a wider strategy targeting global mass media, aimed at promoting selected issues in local, foreign and regional mass media.
• Cooperate with and support Mass Media of the Omogeneia (newspapers, magazines, radio stations, internet sites)
• Upgrade and update communication with SAE member-organizations in the Region.
• Improved programming and free of charge broadcast of the state-run ERT satellite programme instead of being reduced to just another cable channel.
PROGRAMME 5 – INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT TO MEMBER-ORGANIZATIONS
Ensure the viability of the Greek community organizations, institutional factor in the preservation of World Hellenism.
• Tackle and solve, if possible, problems pertaining to member registration and recording that plague the Region’s organizations.
• Support the growth and continuous operation of organizations.
• Encourage wider participation of Greek expatriates and improved cooperation among members.
PROGRAMME 6 – SOCIAL ISSUES
Tackle social issues and daily problems of repatriated Greeks.
• Proposals and recommendations to the Greek State on issues of vital importance concerning repatriated Greeks such as, pension rights, passport issuance, repatriation procedures, taxation, citizenship issues (Greece does not give the right to spouses of expatriate Greeks, who are foreign nationals –mixed marriages-, to acquire Greek citizenship after certain years of marriage dodging the example of the rest of the European countries and Cyprus that give citizenship rights to spouses married for over 12 years).
• The time consuming procedure for the issuance of the new passport type has caused problems. In many cases the waiting period for Greek expatriates wishing to have a new passport issued is much longer than their scheduled stay in Greece due to the large number of new passport applications filed in police stations. Suggestion: Special offices serving the Omogeneia could open in different parts of Athens helping to overcome the inconvenience.
PROGRAMME 7 – NATIONAL ISSUES AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
Mobilize in support of national issues and encourage the members of the Greek communities to participate in their host countries’ public affairs.
• Communication and cooperation with the foreign ministry on national issues and access to better information for members playing a leading role in political, social and communication scene of their country of residence.
• Cooperation with the World Inter-Parliamentary Association of Hellenism (PADEE)
• Support and participation in development assistance programmes funded by the Greek State.
PROGRAMME 8 – SPECIAL PROGRAMMES
Focus on the realization of high importance programmes for Hellenism.
• Active participation in the global effort for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.
• Participation in the effort to win the hosting of the 2013 Mediterranean Games in Larisa and Volos. In November 2007, National Committees will take a vote on the host country. SAE Africa- Near/Middle East Region, where most of the voting countries are, can undertake a promotion campaign on behalf of the Greek candidacy implementing a dynamic action plan in cooperation with local Greek communities in the region’s countries that will climax in November 2007.