George Papandreou is no stranger to leadership. Like his father and grandfather before him, he has been at the helm of the Greek government.

Now, he is vying for the leadership again in the battle to take charge of the socialist Movement for Change (KINAL) party.

Mr Papandreou told Neos Kosmos that his goal is not simply the leadership but for a “strong change of the political scene. To create a large and forceful democratic progressive faction, with a combative government proposal to rival conservatives for Greece and Greeks”.

He said that “strategic planning” is necessary for the Greek diaspora. “We recognise the Greek diaspora as a longstanding national force,” he said. “What is needed now is strategic planning to incorporate and deal with the more recent flow of immigration, specifically over the last decade, when hundreds of thousands of Greeks left the country.”

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He said his decision vie for KINAL’s leadership said his interest to serve Greece and Hellenism. “I had not thought of a candidacy, but with the unexpected loss of (former KINAL leader) Fofi Gennimata, whom I supported, a gap has been created with new details. I noticed the agony in the progressive sector and I felt a debt to the party. It was my duty to enter the battle at this point. I am not looking for vindication or revenge. I was both a minister, prime minister and party leader. I have seen these. I have lived (these roles).”

He said he was not interested in a “seat” but to contribute “to create a large, pluralistic faction which would formulate a new plan for the country”.

Hence, he told Neos Kosmos, he is focused on giving his “soul” to the party, bringing back “embittered friends and to inspire the younger generation of our society.”

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“The goal of my candidacy isn’t just to lead KINAL, but to create a forceful shift on the political scene,” he said. “I am a candidate so that altogether we can battle for a new change with the reinforcement of democracy, society, justice and protection of social rights,” he said, pointing to the materialisation of a transition to green, support of small and medium-sized businesses, digitisation, rural support and youth.

“The nation should participate in democratic processes on a daily basis, not just every for years,” he said. “This philosophy is served via the election of a president from the base, a practice which I first established and which was adopted not just by Greek but also many European parties,” he said. “We don’t want voters but active citizens so that we can establish the new course of our country and once again lift the sun over Greece.”

He said that KINAL would need to “showcase innovative ideas, invest in social cohesion, change the way in which we do politics and understand the great social shift (which has occurred) in order to catch up with developments taking place worldwide”, he said.

Mr Papandreou said a great deal of effort will need to be made to succeed, but he pointed to this as being a “huge challenge”.

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Asked about the Greek diaspora in Australia and the initial socialist PASOK initiatives which had been abandoned over time, Mr Papandreou said that “from 1981 when PASOK became government, it reinforced networks of diasporans around the world and sought to create institutions to develop relations between Hellenism beyond the borders of Greece with the national centre”. Mr Papandreou pointed to the “cultural, educational, economic bridges” between Greece and Greeks abroad such as the General Secretariat of Greeks Living Abroad, World Council of Greeks Abroad, and other networks.

“What is needed now is a strategic plan which will incorporate and deal with the more recent immigration flow, especially in the last decade when hundreds of thousands of Greeks left for abroad,” he said. “Our position has always been essential dialogue and the activation of the constitutional framework of the World Council of Hellenes for all Greeks abroad and for there to be interparty convergence, which we first taught as far as matters concerning Greeks abroad are concerned.”

He referred to the diaspora as “the other half of our nation” and pointed to institutions which need to be revived.

“Finally, in the name of convergence and unity with Greeks abroad, despite our stated poisitions, we voted on the Law to ease the vote for Greeks abroad and we will continue to battle for the right of all Greeks to vote from their place of residence,” he said, adding that those who wish would be able to vote via “postal vote through transparent and authorised procedures”.

Speaking of Greek-language learning, Mr Papandreou said that this is a very important pylon for the diaspora. “The promotion of Greek language and culture are public goods that everyone has the right to enjoy, which work as catalysts for democratic and inclusive societies as a source of enrichment of Greekness, democracy and progress,” he said, while adding that KINAL’s policies will work towards this.