The SAE USA Regional Convention proceedings were held in a positive atmosphere. “The unity, love and friendship that characterize us have transformed into action,” stressed SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis in his speech, and congratulated Regional Coordinator Theo Spyropoulos for a substantive and constructive cooperation during the past twenty months, stressing that it brings positive results. The multifaceted contribution, he added, in sectors such as language, culture and the environment plays a great role in the promotion of Hellenism in the USA region.
Youth, education, culture and national issues were the main thematics in the convention. All speakers emphasized the role the young generation is called to play in developments within SAE, while the SAE President after congratulating the Youth Network Coordinator on his election and for the activities he undertakes, he announced that the youth will attend the December meeting and beginning next year will have a full member status in the SAE Board.
Youth Network Coordinator Maurice Gritzalis outlined the goals and prospects of the newly established body which has set up committees to deal with different issues namely, communications, culture, environment, social issues, vocational orientation and financial issues. The initiative was warmly welcomed by the plenum.
The discussion on national issues, Cyprus, Pontian Genocide, FYROM name, the ethnic Greek minority in south Albania, Ecumenical Patriarchate, was particularly interesting.
“The National issues are the area on which we must cooperate with a measure of responsibility and away from any expedience. We are all genuine patriots. Many of us have contributed from different posts every time we were asked to. It is our duty to fulfill our role supporting Greece every time it needs to be supported even if our personal beliefs are different.
My opinion is that we serve our homeland and not our views which of course are absolutely respected but the right thing to do for the common good is to go along with what the majority believes,” the SAE President said.
On the FYROM name issue, Tamvakis stated that “SAE does not exercise foreign policy but supports the Greek State and when times are crucial we become one voice to face united and dynamically any external danger.”
As regards the essence of the publication we wanted to highlight Gruevski’s and his government’s intransigence and irredentist aspirations, which we did.
Macedonia is one and Greek and this cannot be disputed by anyone. No one is more or less of a patriot than the other. We all love our homeland equally.”
Tamvakis stressed that the goal is to maintain continuous and constructive contact with the base of the Omogenia, adding that while SAE is making its first steps toward financial independence it will be able to materialize its hopes for tomorrow and its visions and plans for the future only through the continuous contact with the Base and its further expansion.
Addressing the convention, PSEKA-International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” President Philip Christopher, representing PSEKA and the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots in the SAE Board, referred to the continuous and consistent efforts on behalf of the expatriates aimed at promoting a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus issue.
He referred to the cooperation with SAE aimed at promoting national issues, the Cyprus issue being the priority, in the decision-making centers in the countries where expatriates live and work, stressing the need for coordinated action by all expatriate bodies.
At the end of the second day of the convention proceedings, the Rules of Procedure of the Coordinating Council and the Regional Convention were approved, while the issue of the voting rights of the Greeks Abroad and the Visa Waiver programme were discussed. Delegates were also briefed on the national land registry project in Greece (Ktimatologio) and the “Plant your Roots” initiative.
On the voting rights of the Greeks abroad issue, the SAE President reiterated that following the 7 regional conventions, the position of SAE is a single one. “We will not change our goals and decisions even if the road is uphill. We do not accept temporary solutions that can become permanent and do not express World Hellenism at all. The SAE positions are, mail or ballot box vote, establishment of electoral districts for expatriates, the permanent residents abroad be given the right to elect their own representatives in Parliament to represent Hellenism in all 5 continents and finally, establishment of a Committee by the foreign and interior ministries and SAE in cooperation with the Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad.”
The efforts of Omogenia for Greece to be included in the United States’ Visa Waiver programme continue dynamically and there is hope that a favorable settlement will be reached soon.
SAE USA Regional Coordinator Theo Spyropoulos referring to the “Plant Your Roots” programme presented its activities and its participation in reforestation initiatives in Greece, particularly after the recent wildfires.
Within the framework of the regional convention, the SAE USA Regional Council honored former SAE Vice-President and USA Regional Coordinator Chris Tomaras, professor Ilias Tomazos and former General Secretary for Greeks Abroad Dimitris Dollis.
Resolutions were issued on the FYROM name, Cyprus, the ethnic Greeks in south Albania, the promotion of the Greek language and culture, pension and medical care issues in Greece.
The Greek State was represented in the convention by Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad President Nikolaos Tsiartsionis, Committee members, Eva Kaili MP-PASOK and Adonis Georgiadis MP-LAOS, General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad General Director Ioannis Kyparissidis, Dimitris Dollis representing PASOK, Ktimatologio SA President Christos Goulas and General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad officials.