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AHEPA Hellas, PADEE Event Focuses on Diaspora Initiatives, Greece’s Progress

ATHENS – A new initiative to unite the commercial elements of the Hellenic Diaspora with each other and with Greece was launched on January 10 at the Athens War Museum. AHEPA Hellas and World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (PADEE-WHIA) presented a hybrid event – in person and via WEBEX – featuring guest speakers and a panel titled ‘Hellenic Diaspora: The Premier Network of Hellenes & Philhellenes Around the World.’

The introduction of the new network, ‘Hellenic Diaspora’, was made in the context of a panel discussion that was intended to shed the light on and stimulate the power of the Hellenic Diaspora business community to form alliances for doing business in Greece and around the world.

The renewed interest the Greek government is showing in the the role of the Diaspora in efforts to build a New Greece through reforms and economic progress at home while becoming more open to direct foreign investment and export markets was indicated by the presence of top officials, including Adonis Georgiadis, Minister for Development and Investment, Yiannis Chrysoulakis, General Secretary for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy, Andreas Katsaniotis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Diaspora Greeks, and other representatives of the New Democracy and the SYRIZA and KINAL parties.

Dominant themes in the discussion included the fact that the latest communications technology such as social media give the new initiatives much greater potential than past efforts, and that successful Diaspora business persons at all levels can be incentivized to become commercial ambassadors for the Homeland.

Technological progress that facilitates teaching the Greek language to Hellenes abroad was noted by several speakers.

Chrysoulakis added philhellenes to those to be included in the endeavors to connect Hellenes all over the world through networks that encompass all fields. Emphasizing the value of Public and People to People diplomacy in general, he also noted the importance of including university students in Greece and the Diaspora

Katsaniotis congratulated AHEPA on its 100th anniversary and several speakers looked forward to its future contributions to uniting global Hellenism at the grass roots level. Katsaniotis also noted the key roles that will be played by Greece’s consulates abroad and standing committees of Parliament at home.

Georgiadis, praising both sponsoring organizations, began his remarks by expressing his pride in being an Ahepan – he is a member of the Coney Island chapter in Brooklyn, NY. Addressing Greece’s development initiatives, he noted that processes are being accelerated and that they will include foreign direct investment programs related to the Diaspora.

GREEK COURT REFORM IN PROGRESS

After the event Georgeadis spoke to The National Herald about the progress Greece is making in creating an environment more attractive to foreign investments, declaring that “everything that did not happen in the prior eight years has been happening during the last two under this government – we are sending a message of actions, not just words, that says now is the time to invest in Greece.”

Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s Minister for Development and Investment, was one of the featured speakers at panel discussion titled ‘Hellenic Diaspora: The Premier Network of Hellenes & Philhellenes Around the World.’

Addressing the concern expressed by many potential investors that delays and other problems with courts are major impediments to Greece’s economic development, he said that, “in 2022-2023 serious changes will be made in the justice system. Τhe reform process will accelerate. The development fund will finance the digitalization judicial processes” and specialized courts for commercial matters.

Kostas Fragkogiannis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Economic Affairs and Openness, praised the efforts of PADEE to promote trade and investment for Greece during the pandemic, and stressed that Greece is “close to a great upturn in economic development,” citing recent Wall Street Journal articles as evidence that Greece’s progress in being  acknowledged internationally. He noted that the Diaspora constitutes a great comparative advantage for Greece.

Guests in house and online were welcomed by Emcee Konstantine Drougos, CEO, OASIS Carbon Management Group who contributed to both the planning of the event and preparations for the network. Drougos, who works closely with leading Greek-American organizations such as EMBCA and AHEPA, is part of the team developing the independent global organization that will emerge that will work with other Diaspora groups, including chambers of commerce, and Greek consulates.

Speakers included Governor of AHEPA Hellas Kostas Varsamis, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, who helps spearhead PADEE, and key other key PADEE members such as Pennsylvania State Representative Maria Tzanakis Collett.

Members of the panel – which was moderated via Zoom by Orestis Omran, partner in the prominent lobbying firm of DLA Piper – included Senator Quevas (Jordan), Wyoming State Senator Stephan Pappas (USA), James Ohrenshall Nevada State Senator (USA), Member of Parliament Vassiliki Tsouplaki, (Sweden), Member of Parliament Evangelos Dules, (Albania), Executive Director American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Elias Spirtounias, Dimitris Mattheou, CEO Arcadia Shipping, Evangelos Kamaris, Vice President of the Hellenic African Chamber of Commerce and International Operations & Business Development Director at MYTILINEOS S.A., Antonios Achilleoudis, Group Managing Director AXIA Ventures, Dr. Paris Kokorotsikos, CEO Euroconsultants, and Irene Vantaraki, Chair Greek House Davos.

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