Within the framework of decisions taken during the last session of the Board of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), on October 2010 in Thessaloniki, SAE USA Region will be the first to launch a public dialogue with the Greek Diaspora.
“Time for SAE is counting in reverse. We are launching a dialogue through a questionnaire addressed to every Greek of the Diaspora, whether or not they are a member of existing Diaspora organizations of the Region”, states SAE USA Region Coordinator from Chicago, Theodore Spyropoulos.
“Thus, the response of the Greek Diaspora to the invitation of the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, Demetris Dollis, is necessary and important, in order to actively participate in the consultation we are launching. The establishment of a world coordinating body for Hellenism has, nonetheless, been everyone’s vision. Now we are given yet another opportunity”, noted Mr. Spyropoulos.
In regard to the new form of SAE, Mr. Spyropoulos stressed that “it must be a means of expression, to unite and coordinate the forces of Ecumenical Hellenism, especially nowadays”.
As a key weakness of the organization he identified the “failure to fulfill its constitutional role, as a means of expression for all forces of worldwide Hellenism, as the institution represents a small portion of organized Greek Diaspora and mainly first Generation Greek immigrants. Organized Diaspora, was much stronger and more active before SAE was established, as he noted, adding that “during that time, our main concern was not what Greece will do for us, but what we can offer to Greece. The subsequent mistakes which were made, both from the Greek state and Diaspora leadership, resulted in apathy on behalf of Greeks abroad for our common issues and mainly in failure to attract the new generations of Greeks abroad. Let’s not forget that in our days, the shrinking of organized Greek Diaspora is major”.
Mr. Spyroulos also addressed the “weaknesses, inconsistencies and gaps in the law governing the operation of SAE”, as well as the “duplication of roles and responsibilities with other statutory bodies of the Greek state, the Greek Diaspora and Church, which often resulted in conflicting situations”.
Mr. Spyropoulos expressed the view that “it is a fact that the Greek Diaspora has lost its trust towards the institution. The occasional political and partisan employment of the institution, through a flexible interpretation of the law, but also the full economic dependence by the respective Greek government, combined with the lack of results, caused a fair resentment and criticism, detrimental to the status of the institution”.
As the two major challenges that the Greek Diaspora is faced with, in a broader sense, he mentioned “the immediate cultural integration of Greeks born abroad and on the other hand the increasing inactivity of the Greek Diaspora”.
The Coordinator of SAE USA Region supported that “we must seek common goals, through dialogue and synergy, learning from the mistakes of the past. In an era of major challenges for Greece, Hellenism and the Global community, we must avoid the alienation of Greek identity. With great sorrow we are following the social unrest, caused by the situation of the economy, but the saddest thing of all is the current state of Greek education and the degradation of our history attempted by certain interest groups”.
In conclusion, Mr. Spyropoulos stressed that “what we need to do is a one way road. All Greeks abroad have a duty to redefine our cultural identity and mainly restore Greek Education. This is our most important legacy for the future of Hellenism. This is the only strong cohesion bond and self-consciousness of all Greeks”.