The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Oceania & Far East Regional Convention was held in Sydney last weekend in the presence of three Greek Parliament deputies, Karaoglou (ND), Sgouridis (PASOK) and Georgiadis (LAOS).
Also, present were Greece’s Ambassador Zois, Cyprus Republic High Commissioner Iakovou, Greece’s Consul General to Sydney Tolios and General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and deputy foreign minister Kassimis’ representative Dimitriou.
SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis referred extensively to the important efforts made to upgrade the organization and the action taken since 2006 focusing on the young generation, the promotion of the Greek language and culture and the organization’s financial independence. He also announced that the next two years will be dedicated to Culture and Youth, while a meeting of Greek expatriate media representing all Regions will be held in 2009.
Tamvakis congratulated Regional Coordinator George Angelopoulos and the Coordinating Council members for their great efforts aimed at making SAE Oceania & Far East even more dynamic.
As regards the voting rights of the Greeks abroad, he pointed out that SAE wants a “golden mean” solution on the basis of the already expressed position.
“Our objectives and decisions will not be changed even if we’ll have to follow an uphill path. We do not accept temporary solutions that could become permanent, and do not express the Greeks abroad,” he stressed.
SAE supports the establishment of special electoral districts for the Greeks abroad.
All three Greek MPs attending stated that their parties support the voting rights of the Greeks abroad even though they disagree on the election system.
LAOS’ Georgiadis called on the delegates to accept the plan sponsored by the government stating that with his party’s support the Greeks abroad will soon be given the right to vote. He pointed out that the plan suggested by SAE could be the ideal solution but it has many shortcomings and it “could take another 15 to 20 years before the right to vote is given to expatriates.”
“We say ‘yes’ to the right to vote for the Greeks abroad under the term that Greek expatriates will run as well in the elections,” said PASOK’s Sgouridis, while ND deputy Karaoglou stated that the government will prepare a draft law in consultation with the rest of the political parties.
The delegates were also briefed on the preparations for the hosting of the Pan-Hellenic Games to take place in Melbourne in February and March 2009 which, this time, will also include cultural events as well.
The regional convention also requested, among others, that the system currently into effect in Greece for the recognition of foreign diplomas be improved, and suggested that the hospitality programmes for young expatriates should continue and be further improved.
The convention also adopted resolutions on the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, the ethnic Greek minority in Albania and the Genocide of the Greeks of Pontos.