Athens.- The position of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on the issue of the expatriatesʼ voting rights, formed and submitted by the Board within the framework of the decisions reached in the Regional Conventions, is presented in a letter by SAE President Stefanos P. Tamvakis addressed to the presidents and members of the Greek Parliamentʼs Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice and the Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad.
The letter was sent in view of the discussion of the draft law on “the Greek expatriatesʼ right to vote from their countries of residence” introduced in the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice on Feb. 19.
Tamvakis points out that SAEʼs position is summarized in two key-points:
1. The right to vote in parliamentary elections by postal vote and ballot box
2. Establishment of electoral districts for expatriates allowing permanent residents abroad to elect their representatives in Parliament who will represent Hellenism in the five continents.
In the letter, the president of SAE expresses the wish shared by all the members of the board that the effort will continue aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue, stressing that it is unwise to create the impression that the Greek expatriates constitute a cause of confrontation between political parties.
“The World Council of Hellenes Abroad being a constitutionally established consultative, recommendatory and supportive body to the Greek State sees as imperative the establishment of a Committee made up of representatives of the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad, the parliamentary political parties and SAE to jointly draw up a plan with mutual understanding in the present and the future,” Tamvakis stressed.
For this reason, he suggests that a meeting of the above mentioned committee should take place next week with SAEʼs participation to create the necessary preconditions that will allow expatriates to vote in Greek national elections from their countries of residence thus making the representation of Omogeneia in the Greek Parliament a reality.
“We are certain that if this dialogue takes place we will agree on the appropriate implementation of the constitutional right,” the SAE president concludes.
“We believe that the suggested solution is the best possible at the present time, and that everyone should contribute towards it being accepted,” government spokesman
Evangelos Antonaros stated on Thursday vis-à-vis objections by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) to a draft law granting voting rights in Greek national elections to eligible expatriates.
Antonaros characterised the solution as transitional, pointing out that all necessary changes will be made along the way after the law is implemented, while he called on SAE to reconsider.
“Reaching a consensus does not necessarily mean that it is the government that always has to back down,” Antonaros said during his regular press briefing, while he underlined that the specific draft law is very important, as it allows Greek citizens living abroad to vote from their country of residence, thus avoiding trouble and expense of returning to Greece to cast one’s vote.
“I will not enter into an argument with an institutional body that expresses its opinions,” Antonaros added.