There is growing support for the creation of a Greek Ministry for Greeks Living Abroad, which is the initiative of a group of lecturers of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
The 29 professors, who signed a letter stating the reasons which necessitate the creation of such a government department, make strong arguments in presenting their case.
“In the current stage, with all the difficulties which the crisis has brought during the last decade, along with the consequential weight of the continued pandemic, the entry of 6.5 million Greeks abroad onto the electoral role is a matter of huge national need,” they write.
Reasons given for the development of such a ministry are numerous. The academics point to the Brain Drain, the population shrinkage following the migration of around 500,000 (mainly young) Greek citizens in the last decade. Furthermore, such a ministry would cater to the promotion of Hellenism abroad and would help upgrade Greek language schools.
Peter (Panagiotis) Katsambanis, the former President of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA/PADEE), told Neos Kosmos that for such a ministry to be useful there is a need for the proper study and design of the department’s role so that it could have a specific charter.
“The creation of an independent Ministry for Greeks Living Abroad by the Greek government would fulfil the dreams and ambitions of many Greek diasporans,” he said, adding that it would also act as a means for the better use of the diaspora living and working around the world.
Nonetheless, such plans would require careful study to avoid conflict as far as matters of jurisdiction go with other government groups.
Each ministry needs to have clear roles, responsibilities and budget in accordance with its role, said Mr Katsambanis.
“Having worked closely with the Deputy Minister for Greeks Living Abroad, Konstandinos Vlasis, I am sure that he is especially capable of achieving great things if his position was upgraded to head a full ministry,” Mr Katsambanis said.
Greek Community of Melbourne President Bill Papastergiadis said that the community of Melbourne would support such a ministry.
“Greeks abroad always played an important role in the struggles of our countries and the development of the Greek economy, showing this support in action,” Mr Papastergiadis said.
Mr Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos that there had been rifts between Greece and the diaspora in the centuries following Greece’s liberation from Ottoman rule.
“Two hundred years later, these themes of identity and inclusion still exist, and are in many ways unresolved,” he said.
“To deal with this issue, a concerted campaign within Greece is needed. This will require a government determination to fully recognise the importance of the diaspora and to embrace the many benefits that Greeks abroad offer to Greece. A dedicated ministry for the diaspora is the starting point. To become a truly cosmopolitan society, Greece must now open its doors to the world and, in particular, to those who have supported it for centuries, being its diaspora,” Mr Papastergiadis said.