05 June, 2008
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday called the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) the main axis of a joint national effort to promote and support Hellenism around the world, while also emphasising the government's intent to establish voting rights for expatriates.
The prime minister said competent government ministers and political party representatives will meet to discuss the expatriate vote issue and have a draft law drawn up as soon as possible, taking under consideration SAE’s positions.
"The intention is to have the effort completed by the end of 2008," Karamanlis said, citing the government actions in preparing a draft law that was forwarded to parties in Parliament and SAE, adding that he is aware of the existing differences in viewpoints.
“Considering that a strong majority of 200 MPs is necessary for the draft law in question to be passed in Parliament, a convergence of views is imperative.”
The prime minister congratulated and thanked expatriates for their initiatives in support of the national issues, referring characteristically to their mobilisation ahead of the NATO Summit in Bucharest and their endeavors on issues concerning youth, education and culture and the creation of closer relations between the Greek expatriates and local societies in their countries of residence.
Karamanlis stated that SAE’s contribution is recognised in practice, adding that the government honors its expatriate Greeks and will offer its unreserved support to SAE and its organisational improvement.
He also referred to the establishment of youth networks, the conventions for the upgrading and better organizing of Greek-speaking education and the promotion of the systematic teaching of the Greek language via the internet pointing out that though simple in their essence, these measures are very effective in preserving the Greek language and identity.
Karamanlis stressed that the upgrading of Greek-speaking education is a top priority for the government and referred to the promotion of a complete scholarship programme for the Greek expatriates who in turn will undertake to teach the Greek language in their countries of residence.
The prime minister also referred to the initiatives for the creation of closer relations between the Greek expatriate communities and the enabling law passed recently allowing SAE to assume its current representative and effective role. He also pointed out that the presidential decree setting the criteria and procedures for representation in SAE’s assembly meeting is on its last processing stage.
Karamanlis concluded that the government’s main goal and a steadfast national objective is to offer substantive and tangible support to Greek expatriates, adding that the government is looking forward to SAE’s firm and constructive assistance and contribution to this direction.
SAE President Stefanos Tamvakis cited the issue of voting rights and the election of Greek expatriate MPs, noting that the objective is to have the number of Parliament seats filled from nationwide party lists on a top-down basis and based on the proportion of the total vote each party received, increased from 12 to 15, three of them occupied by Greek expatriate candidates.
Source: Athens News Agency