Determined to improve the services of the Consulate General of Greece in Melbourne is recently appointed Consul General, Ms Christina Simantiraki.
‘Improving consular services will be my main focus,’ she told Neos Kosmos.
‘In that way, the confidence that Greek citizens have in the Consulate and in the Greek state which we represent will also improve and strengthen.”
However, as Ms Simantiraki emphasised, the improvement would be “to the extent possible and with the means at our disposal”.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos, the Consul General in Melbourne revealed that amongst her main priorities will be the improvement of the Consulate website.
“We want all the information both in Greek and English to be available on the website, providing valid information to our expatriates. They will not need to call or visit the Consulate and will thus avoid lengthy procedures. We also hope to provide special forms on the website, to be downloaded and filled out, depending on the nature of the enquiry.”
For all of the above measures to take place, the new Consul General admitted that the Consulate needs staff.
“Due to the closure of the French consulate, foreigners who want to visit France must get their visas from the Greek Consulate. And with the reduced staff there is a problem as Greece, due to the well known economic situation, has cut staff transfers greatly. We hope, however, that we will have some progress.”
Ms Simantiraki also revealed that the Consulate General of Greece in Melbourne has a significant income, for services provided to the public.
Another issue the Consulate is dealing with is the call center that, as the new Consul admits, “has limited potential.”
“We ask for understanding, but also for the cooperation of the public. Let us not leave everything to the last minute,” she said.
Ms Simantiraki didn’t hide her optimism that the Working Holiday Visa Agreement (sub class 462) between Greece and Australia is to be signed.
“From the Greek side, the work have been completed and some announcements will be made very soon,” she said.
Moreover, during her term of office in Melbourne, she is determined to highlight the modern face of Greece to the younger generations of Greek Australians. Furthermore, she wants to highlight the potential of Greece on an economic, cultural and tourist player.
When asked about her first impressions from the Greek Australian community, Ms Simantiraki states her very positive first thoughts and how impressed she is already by the strength of the community.
At a time when Greece is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis, adversely commented upon in diaspora is the residence of Greek diplomats in opulent homes, both in Melbourne and Sydney. About her own residence, Ms Simantiraki told Neos Kosmos:
“In a month I will move near the Consulate General and the cost of my home will be tailored to the spirit of the times”