In an exclusive interview for the weekly Greek – Cypriot Newspaper “ELEFTHERIA” of London, the President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad referred to the post – Mubarak era and the new turning point in the country’s history, the future of SAE and employing the forces of the Greek Diaspora, as well as the current situation in Greece, and the issue of Diaspora voting.
Below you can find the full text of the interview on the issue of April 21st 2011:
Tell us about the difficult times you experienced along with the Greeks in Egypt, from Alexandria and Cairo, given the fact that you are credited for the safe repatriation of Greeks.
- The difficult times I experienced with my compatriots in Egypt, but also with our Egyptian brothers, became much easier and trivial, considering their historical importance.
All together, Church, Communities, Diplomatic authorities, in collaboration with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, coordinated the safe “exit” of some of our compatriots who, at that time, felt the need to be transferred safer in Greece.
Therefore, I contributed, along with everyone else, for everything to go smoothly, as it did.
- The long historical presence of Hellenism in Egypt is undergoing a new trial. What are your feelings on this?
I feel that the dawn of a new era is approaching everyone, especially the remaining Greeks in Egypt, who are called once again in history, to receive the torch of perpetuation, under new circumstances. Perhaps, through a different way of life and continuation.
It is our duty to continue our presence in the country of Nile, as the Greeks of Egypt, it is our duty to positively contribute with our expertise and skills, with our love, towards the restructuring and transformation of the new Egypt, methodically and systematically. In my opinion, it would be wrong to remain inactive and indifferent, as mere observers.
- What does Alexandria mean for you?
Up until the revolution of the 25th of January 2011, all my life, subsequently became a part of my soul. Now, next to the cerulean blue color of my beloved homeland, stands the color red of my favorite rebellious city…
- In a recent article you wrote that “hope returned to Egypt and along with it the smile of Youth. Muslims and Christians, together, managed to invite and welcome liberty, hope and optimism for a better tomorrow.” Do you believe that the post-Mubarak era has begun?
Not only do I believe it, but I am also experiencing it, the new era has begun, I sense this every day. I witness the smiles on the faces of my fellow citizens, smiles long forgotten, and pushed aside, I hear and see the residents of Egypt, referring to “our” beloved Egypt. Therefore, I believe that this “better tomorrow” will also sense this and soon will come, more optimistic, friendlier and more creative, “holding” the hand of hope.
- Where is currently SAE heading towards? Are there going to be any changes in the structure and character of the institution?
SAE must head towards the change of its structure and character, if it wants to follow a long path ahead… and in my personal opinion, it does have a future and long way ahead.
However, unless adjustments and structural changes are implemented, and unless it is realized that the first 15-year circle has come to an end, then the introduction to the second one will be difficult.
- Can the forces Diaspora Hellenism be effectively used, under the new circumstances in Greece?
Now, more than ever, is the time to put SAE into use as well as Ecumenical Hellenism. Now that time “waits for no one”, the forces of Hellenism abroad must be put into use. Will they be effectively used? We have often appealed to those in power “Make use of us”, as the employment of our forces could only yield positive results.
- Mr. President, when do you plan to have a dialogue with the entire Greek Diaspora?
Very soon, all our Administrative Board will have the much desired and necessary dialogue with the Greek Diaspora as a whole, the entire organized, and non-organized Hellenism.
- How do you envisage the future of SAE? Will you be able to overcome any functional problems that have arisen so far in the course of SAE?
I envisage a more dynamic SAE, more flexible, more representative. The institution of SAE itself, is already aware of its problems, but it also has the expertise and courage to face the challenges of the new era, which will provide him with the role it deserves.
Will SAE achieve a substantial financial autonomy?
Of course, SAE can achieve an initial financial autonomy. We have created those “tools” that could serve as acceleration and implementation forces towards this autonomy. Moreover; we have submitted our integrated viable proposals, regardless of the fact that some accuse SAE of being negligent or not wanting to obtain financial independence.
However, I am under the impression that they are the ones who wouldn’t want SAE to achieve it. Some other time, I will more specific, in regard to who I am referring to.
- Greece is currently facing the greatest economic crisis in its post-war history. What funds will be used to finance the implementation of the new plans for SAE?
SAE does not need any funding from the mother land, to implement its new plans, the only thing it needs on behalf of the Greek state, is moral support for the achievement of its financial independence.
- Are there any thoughts for the re-organization of regional councils?
The base is expressed through regional councils – congresses, therefore it is necessary to re-organize and expand them.
However, what matters now, is to organize them in a modern manner, in order to dramatically reduce the cost of their organization. This is the only way in which SAE will be able to express and draw its new representative character.
- The Diaspora Vote issue is coming back into the spotlight. Do you have anything to add to this controversial issue?
Nothing more than what I had last stated in the Greek Parliament. Diaspora Hellenism must eventually obtain the right to vote from their place of residence, through their prefecture, through ballot and postal voting. Besides, that represents the unanimous decision of all regional SAE councils.
Greece has absolutely nothing to lose when we, from far away, are also able to exercise our right to vote… it can only gain from this. I believe the politicians of our country should not be concerned whether we, as Greeks abroad, will be able to become the regulators of our constitution, and that is why they are negligent on making a decision on whether and when they should give us the right to vote from our place of residence.
Are they worried that if the vote counts towards the final result? Or do they think it is better to count the vote of certain known minorities and that they will, eventually, become the regulators?