Presentation of Kapa Research study on Diaspora Hellenism
The issue of the voting rights of the Greeks living abroad was highlighted during the presentation on Thursday of a study on Diaspora Hellenism carried out by Kapa Research in a special event addressed by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis and main opposition PASOK spokesman on foreign affairs Andreas Loverdos. Also present was World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Stefanos Tamvakis.
Speaking during the presentation held under the auspices of the foreign ministry, Bakoyannis underlined: “I want, from my heart, to express my great sorrow over the fact that this draft law was unable to be agreed upon and passed by the Hellenic Parliament. I sincerely believe that the government made every effort so that we could agree that Greeks abroad shall vote.”
“Unfortunately, this is in my opinion a typical example of party allegiance trumping national interest,” she pointed out, adding that “I would like to hope that in the next Parliament, one of the first bills passed will be the vote for Greeks abroad. They deserve it. It is their right, and in my opinion we have an obligation to satisfy their request. It is their right to have a say in developments in our country. It is their right, because they are mounting their own struggle. It is their right because for us they are a force and rich resource.”
The foreign minister referred to the importance of the findings of the study, conducted in cooperation with Harvard University, on the experience of immigration, the family status of immigrants, their relations with Greece, and the views of Greeks of the Diaspora on Greece’s foreign policy, the Greek state and all major international issues. She also underlined that “the Greek state stands by the Greeks abroad and is taking measures that will improve communication between the national homeland and Greeks of the Diaspora.”
Bakoyannis put an emphasis on Greece’s contemporary role as regards the reception of foreign economic migrants, pointing out that “given that Greek society is now a society receiving hundreds of thousands of economic migrants, it is our duty to develop procedures for better incorporating all these people, who are an important part of our society…I think that the experience of the Greek Diaspora is of paramount importance in our adopting good practices – rejecting inhibitive mindsets.”
Deputy FM Theodoros Kassimis expressed satisfaction because the findings of the research vindicate the policy exercised by the foreign ministry, stressing that “we managed to turn the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) from a field of confrontation to a broadly supported coordinating body.”
Kassimis also referred to the education of second and third generation Greeks abroad, underlining that past mistakes are being corrected and that “they are now being taught the Greek language as a foreign language by specially trained local teachers.” He added that 4,500 expatriate children are being hosted in the country annually and becoming acquainted with modern Greece.
The deputy FM referred to the work done by SAE and its efforts aimed at establishing networks of expatriate scientists and entrepreneurs.
Referring to the issue of the voting rights of Greeks abroad, Loverdos speaking on behalf of PASOK stated that the dialogue during the draft law debate was “positive and fruitful but we were not able to reach an agreement”, adding that “the vote of the Greek expatriates constitutes a factor of cohesion”.
On the findings of the study he stated that they correctly highlight the “political dimension” of Hellenism worldwide. (Source: ANA-MPA)
Global Survey on Hellenism part 1 (PDF / in Greek)
Global Survey on Hellenism part 2 (PDF / in Greek)