Australia seems to be less than a week away from resolving the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) ongoing issue with Greece, according to Greek-Australian Member of Parliament Steve Georganas, who visited Greece last week to attend the official ceremonies held to commemorate the ANZAC anniversary and also discuss the visa impasse that has been at a standstill since 2011.
“It is always very special for me to touch down in Greece, the place of my ancestors whilst I represent Australia and its people,” said Georganas who together with newly appointed Australian Ambassador, Kate Logan, conducted a series of meetings with President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos as well as Greek Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Terence Quick.
“I was very honoured to meet the President of the Hellenic Republic and discuss the close relationship between our two countries; Greece and Australia. Both parties are certainly keen to support and further strengthen the bond between the two nations by finalising the pending Working Holiday Visa agreement.”
The Memorandum of Understanding between Australia and Greece will allow 500 Greek citizens aged between 18 and 30 to travel, stay, and work legally in Australia for an entire year. At the same time, Australian citizens of similar age will be allowed to visit Greece on a reciprocal basis.
“Australia has finalised all its obligations in respect to the Working Holiday Visa, nevertheless, there is a small technical glitch on Greece’s end which according to Greek Government officials is due to be resolved next week,” confirmed Georganas after meeting with Terence Quick as well as former Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, who originally signed off on the abovementioned Memorandum.
“What a wonderful thing for young Greek and Australian citizens to be given the opportunity to experience these two brilliant countries, acquaint themselves with a different culture whilst gaining experience in their professional fields,” said the Greek-Australian MP who also noted he was rather impressed by President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“I was pleasantly surprised by his knowledge regarding Australia and its Greek migrants,” he said.
According to Georganas, Mr Pavlopoulos also expressed a very keen interest in visiting Australia in the near future.
“I have already written to our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull requesting that a formal invitation is extended to President Pavlopoulos.”
Mr Georganas and Mr Pavlopoulos also discussed the importance of the Greek language and culture and the need for additional Greek programs for the next generation of Greek-Australians, which focus on strategies that could be implemented to further promote Hellenism outside of Greece.
“I also expressed our gratitude and thanked him on behalf of our South Australian Greek Community for allowing the Presidential Guards (Evzones) to visit Adelaide,” said Georganas who is keen to continue working closely with both the Australian and Greek Governments.
“Both countries have a special place in my heart and I consider myself fortunate to be able to live in a country that respects my Greek background, my culture, my language and yet provides me with the opportunity to become a respected member of the Australian Parliament.
“At the same time I consider myself blessed to be Greek because Greece is the country that gave me my family, my language, my history and this incredible Greek culture that I am keen to pass on to the future generations of Greek-Australians,” concluded Georganas.