New York.- It is everyone’s wish that the World Council of Hellenes Abroad will not be closed and gain financial autonomy, stated the President of SAE, Mr. Stefanos Tamvakis, during his speech at a meeting of presidents and officials of Greek Diaspora bodies in Astoria.
“SAE is going through a transitional period. After fifteen years, SAE is entering a new cycle, and we ourselves, as Greeks abroad, must take responsibility”, said Mr. Tamvakis.
In response to a question by ANA – MPA on his concern regarding the perspective on the operation of SAE, Mr. Tamvakis underlined that “the Prime Minister, George Papandreou, expressed genuine interest, he established a Deputy Ministry for Greeks Abroad and we are in collaboration with Mr. Dollis and the Greek Government in general, so that SAE will proceed on a new basis. After fifteen years, we must find new ways to transform, aiming towards SAE becoming a representative, autonomous and assertive body for Greeks worldwide”.
Afterwards, the President of SAE, noted that “mistakes have been made until today but there is no decision, neither a plan for the closing of SAE”, stating that the “Greek state and the government of Cyprus are in favor of preserving and upgrading this institution. We are determined to overcome any problems, to re-examine certain things and move ahead, united, coordinated, with a plan, ideas and work”.
Mr. Tamvakis, especially made reference to the “important role” that SAE Regions and Coordinators are called to play, stressing that “the President of SAE does not replace anyone, the role of federations and local organizations of the Greek Diaspora is different to ours”, he said, reiterating that , the “fact that a solid demand of SAE was realized and a Deputy Ministry for Greeks Abroad was established for the first time, with Mr. Dollis appointed as Deputy Minister, who is well aware of Greek Diaspora issues, is an indication of the Greek government’s interest”.
Mr. Tamvakis, expressed the view that “SAE is now able to proceed on its own” and called all representatives of Greek Diaspora bodies to seize this “golden opportunity” created for the establishment and strengthening of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, adding that: “Us, Greeks abroad, can carry SAE on, as long as we believe in its necessity and usefulness. We should not see it from a competitive perspective with associations, federations and communities and place emphasis on the promotion of issues related to language, education, youth and national issues.”
In response to a question if a time schedule has been set for the realization of the conference in Thessaloniki, which has been postponed due to the financial crisis, he stated the organization of the conference is an issue which must considered both in terms of participation and efficiency.
When he was asked on the advisory and assertive role of the institution of SAE, he mentioned that every year, the Board of SAE submits to the Greek Parliament a report with proposals and recommendations with regards to the issues that concern Greeks abroad, which are then discussed in the competent committee of the Parliament or forwarded to Ministries, depending on the nature of the issue. “If we find that no solutions and answers were given to our requests, this year we will not submit a report and we will insist on the implementation of our previous proposals”, stated Mr. Tamvakis.
Speaking about the priorities of SAE, he mentioned issues related to the strengthening of the base and regional bodies, in an effort to preserve the Greek culture, our national issues and the Diaspora vote, stating that he is in favor of MPs coming from the Greek Diaspora to be voted by Greeks abroad.
The event was organized by the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA) and its President, Phillip Christopher, presented the guest, noting that “he is a genuine fighter for our issues, with whom we share a very good collaboration on the promotion of national issues”.
Mr. Christopher also thanked Mr. Tamvakis for the support of SAE towards the struggle for justice and freedom of the Cypriot people.
The Consul General of Cyprus in New York, Koula Sofianou, stated that “SAE has the support of Greece, Cyprus and the Greek Diaspora”.
The President of the Federation of Hellenic Societies in New York, Mr. Elias Tsekeridis, expressed that he is pleased over Mr. Tamvakis’ presence in the Greek Diaspora and said that there is “a will and intention for collaboration”.
The Vice President of the Cypriot Federation, Mr. Costas Tsentas, referred to the difficult task of SAE and the support it provides towards the struggle for the solution of the Cyprus issue.
The President of the Pan-Messinian Federation, Mr. Giorgos Kalyvas, welcomed Mr. Tamvakis and spoke about the children’s summer hospitality program in Greece, organized by his Federation on an annual basis, in collaboration with the University of Peloponnese.
The President of the Chian Federation, Evangelos Kavvadas, said that the “work of SAE is of great importance”, mentioning at the same time that the Chian Federation will offer this year’s 31st Homeric Award to the President of PSEKA, Mr. Phillip Christopher.
The President of the Panarcadian Federation, Demetris Filios, referred to the “constructive and unifying work” of Mr. Tamvakis, while he mentioned the upcoming conference of the Panarcadian in New York, whereby the Archbishop of America, Demetrios and businessman Nikolaos Bouras will be honored.
The President of the Women’s Issues Network of the Pancyprian Association of America stated that “We have a duty to work together for a better World Council for Hellenes Abroad”.