The Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, met with a delegation from the Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), which included its President Bill Papastergiadis OAM and Treasurer Assoc Professor Marinis Pirpiris at the Maximos Mansion in Athens on Thursday 14 July.The GCM delegation was warmly welcomed by the Greek Prime Minister. Culture, language, and educational ties formed the backbone of this positive meeting. Kyriakos Mitsotakis was brought up to speed on the the diverse activities of the GCM.
The meeting was also attended by Greece’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Andreas Katsaniotis, the Member of Parliament and Secretary General of the Standing Committee of National Defense and Foreign Affairs, Tasos Hatzivasiliou, the Secretary General of Greeks Abroad & Public Diplomacy, John Chrysoulakis and the Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Anna Maria Bura.
Mr Mitsotakis thanked the GCM for its leadership and expressed his appreciation for its efforts in promoting Greece’s modern image in Australia. The Prime Minister focused on the relations of Greece with the diaspora, making special reference to the new digital services such as ‘My Consul Live,’ which are now available to expatriates to overcome delays and provide faster and more efficient consular services.
Bill Papastergiadis initially referred to the need for stronger ties between Australian and Greek Universities. Amongst other things, he noted how important it was to have students completing part of the university degree in GREECE, something which many thousands of students from Australia are doing abroad each year. Equally, Bill referred to the need for recognition by both countries of university degrees.
Mr Papastergiadis thanked in particular the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andreas Katsaniotis and The Secretary General for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy Prof. John Chrysoulakis for the cultural and educational camp that recently commenced in Thessaloniki with over 40 young Greek Australian adults taking part.
The GCM President pointed to the recent Victoria Government funded “Open Horizons” exhibition at the Melbourne Museum and the partial involvement of the GCM and then referred to the commitment of Minister Lina Mendoni to expand the cultural offerings of Greece to the diaspora.
Bill Papastergiadis also referred to continued conversations with the Tourism Office of Greece as well as Enterprise Greece in terms of having a footprint in Melbourne. Bill noted the positive steps being undertaken by both governments on a double taxation agreement and the hard work of a subcommittee of Greek-Australians who were providing input on the terms of such an agreement and a bilateral health agreement that would provide appropriate health cover for their respective citizens when abroad.
The meeting came to a close with discussion about a potential visit by the Greek Prime Minister to Australia.