The Integration of the Hellenic Diaspora with Greeks in Greece


New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis talks at ND's 12th Congress, in Athens, Dec. 14, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yorgos Kontarinis)

For the first time in the political history of Greece, a major political party, New Democracy, a party which according to all the political polling is widening its lead over second place SYRIAZA in advance of elections that might take place sooner rather than later, has declared as its policy “the integration of Hellenes abroad.”

It’s about time

This corresponds to a decades-old request of the Greek-American community, but it is a desire that will also provide Greece with the wings it needs to take off.

And we are asking for it for decades because it has long been clear where the policy of indifference and mockery we experienced with various representatives of Greece would lead.

They did not want to integrate us into their world, not because they did not understand that our integration with the Greeks of Greece, beyond its moral justification, was also in the interests of the Greeks of Greece, but because of (wrongheaded) reasons of political feasibility.

Today, in the era of globalism, of easy and direct communication, it is anachronistic that we continued to debate this matter.

Surely, this is not the only issue that holds both the community and Greece back, but it is a serious issue.

And we are at a juncture that gives us an historic opportunity, since the leader of New Democracy is a man who has lived in the community, and who recognizes very well the significance of being able to rally world-wide Hellenism.

As I noted in my December 15-16 commentary titled, “The ND Conference and Greeks Abroad,” when I was asked to send a message to the meeting of the ND party I believed that it constituted an opportunity for the community that I did not have the right to leave unexploited.

And as I wrote in my recent commentary, I would have done the same if another party had asked me to address their meeting.

My message, included, therefore, among other comments, a justified criticism of Alexios Tsipras’ refusal to grant us the ability to vote from America.

To be fair, it must be noted that he is not the only one who could have made this happen, but did not. His predecessors, like George Papandreou, beyond nice words in practice did nothing.

That is why my words below that are directed at Mr. Tsipras could have been aimed at his predecessors who could have done something but did nothing.

I said: Mr. Tsipras treats us like second class Hellenes.

He sees us opportunistically.

He considers us foreigners.

He builds walls – like he wants to keep us outside, far from our homeland.

He doesn’t trust us, because we Greeks abroad find ourselves far from…the lure of appointments and other benefits he can dole out, and the teases of political polarization [that he benefits from].

Nevertheless, Greece has a moral responsibility and a national interest in giving us the right to vote.

To bring us closer. Greece needs us.

But we too need to feel Greece’s presence.

This is a win-win situation. There are no losers in this discussion.

I conclude today’s commentary quoting the words of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, words that contain the substance and constitute the foundation upon which the policy of ND towards the diaspora can rest when it forms a government:

“I recognize its [the diaspora’s] dynamism; I recognize its love for the homeland, but I also recognize its ability to see the national interests with selflessness. Perhaps its distance from the goings-on of Greek political life that enables those Greeks who live abroad to see matters more clearly.”

“The truth is that this great dynamism of world Hellenism has been left untapped to a great degree. It is my personal commitment that Greece and Hellenism will once more become a single entity. Because global Hellenism will join in the great endeavor of our country to again stand on its feet rebuild its dignity.