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Issues concerning the Greek community in the SAE Africa – Near/Middle East Region and the draft law on the right of the Overseas Greeks to vote in Greek national elections were discussed, among others, in the first meeting of the Regional Coordinating Council in Athens.

The Region’s 2007-2011 Action Plan was also approved, following a proposal by Regional Coordinator Charis Gouvelis submitted in the SAE Presiding Board meeting last February, while the Coordinating Council’s Rules of Operation draft plan was ratified in addition to a decision to proceed with the operation of Youth, Business and Science Networks in the Region.

Regarding the operation of Greek schools, a decision was reached to send a questionnaire to all Greek communities in the Region in order to categorize the education sector problems and present them to the ministry of education. Moreover, a process got underway to register organizations wishing to become SAE members and update the SAE member records.

The Coordinating Council reaffirmed its decision to support the work of the Patriarchates of Alexandria and All Africa and Jerusalem.

Finally, reflecting the feelings of the SAE Africa – Near/Middle East Region Greeks, the Coordinating Council expressed complete satisfaction referring to the materialization of the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announcement concerning the Overseas Greeks’ vote while pointing out that the postal vote option should also be considered. Political parties in Greece were called to undertake the commitment to establish new electoral districts for the Greeks abroad during the next constitutional revision. Until this proposal materializes, the council suggested that political parties in Greece should include expatriates, still living abroad, among the candidates for nationwide party lists to voice the views and positions of the Greeks abroad in the Greek parliament.

During their stay in Athens, the Coordinating Council members met with Deputy Foreign Minister Thodoros Kassimis, General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad General Director Ioannis Kyparissidis and the presiding board of the Parliament’s Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad. They also visited former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis.

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