President of the World Inter-parliamentary Hellenic Association (WIHA), Victorian MP, John Pandazopolous, met with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in Brussels last week for a WIHA forum.

Pandazopoulos, former Minister of Sports and Gaming, said the forum addressed the core strengths of Greece’s economy to determine ways in which the Greek diaspora can aid Greece’s current financial situation.

“The core opportunities are tourism, but Greece needs to improve its competitiveness; it’s been seen as expensive for the service that you’re getting,” he told Neos Kosmos.

Mr Pandazopolous said Greece also has the potential to expand on Greek exports. “Greek exports are great quality, people know Greek food all around the world but you can’t buy it,” he said.

“Greek products need to be marketed in an accessible way… enterprises need to change on their own, it’s not just about what the government does, the country and business needs to develop an export culture, which is one of the things we hear from Greek business people here in Australia.”

Mr Pandazopolous said the third focus of the WIHA meeting was on encouraging property investment in Greece, from people within Greece and internationally.

“There are literally tens of thousands of Greeks around the world who have property in Greece and would love to do something with that property, build a holiday house or whatever, but they’re not spending that money, they won’t waste money,” he said.

Mr Pandazopolous said Greece needs the average person investing in Greece as well as big businesses. He said the diaspora is asking for an independent Competition and Efficiency Commission to be established in order to reduce bureaucracy for potential investment projects.

Ultimately the message that resulted from the meeting was that Greece isn’t broken, Mr Pandazopolous said.

“The government (in Greece) with the measures they’re taking are showing a level of seriousness and a commitment to making a better Greece, with less bureaucracy and more focus on being a strong economy where people also pay their way and play by the rules,” he said.

He said the 2004 Athens Olympics established Greece as a brand and it remains renowned for great culture, food, and scenery. “The brand of Greece is not broken, it’s still healthy,” he said, concluding that this brand can thrive by improving on tourism by lifting services, by developing a food export culture and by encouraging investment by Greeks in Greece and other countries through streamlined processes.