Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is due to speak directly to Greek-Americans in Astoria on Wednesday, September 25. One might read that sentence and say, that makes a lot of sense since Astoria has historically been one of the key centers of the Greek-American community. As logical as that visit may be, well, I understand that the workings of the mother country are routinely anything but logical, despite our people having invented logic as we know it to begin with.
It is with great interest and of vital importance that the Prime Minister of Greece will address the Greek American community in person rather than through a press release designed to placate wealthy members of the Greek diaspora, as countless governments of Greece have done. Friends, there is a cautious optimism in Greece today that has not been there for many years. The new government is proceeding extremely quickly, by Greek standards, in passing reforms through Parliament and creating a new National Plan from scratch in order to bring Greece into the 21st century despite the fact that we are now fast-approaching the close of this century’s second decade. Greek-Americans, like most Greeks living abroad, and Greece's creditors and EU partners are tired of being fed lies from the Maximos Mansion and Hellenic Parliament time and time again.
This time however, I dare say, feels different.
From his days of being given almost no chance by any pundit in Greece of securing the leadership of New Democracy, to the days he was the leader of the opposition in Hellenic Parliament, to his days campaigning to be Greece’s Prime Minister this summer, to today, Kyriakos Mitsotakis has affirmed over a sizeable time sample that he means business when he aims to bring the Greek diaspora closer to Greece. Regardless of political leanings, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ impending visit must bring hope to the Greek-American community by coming to our community in person, something which many of his predecessors felt was not needed, or did not care to do. High up on the Prime Minister's agenda, as he has stated many times, is granting, finally, Greeks who live abroad the right to vote in Greek elections.
We are eagerly awaiting the next moves of the Greek government regarding the diaspora and are encouraged that finally a Greek Prime Minister recognizes the untapped potential of the Greek diaspora but also chooses to not treat it exclusively as a piggy bank for Greece and government cronies. Kyriakos Mitsotakis has reached out his hand across the Atlantic Ocean with this announcement to the diaspora as a partner, not a loan shark – and we owe it to ourselves and Greece to reach out and give our hand too.