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Guest Viewpoints

Consul General of Greece Stamatekos Brings a Dynamic New Attitude to LA

March 26, 2023
By Vasilis Papoutsis

LOS ANGELES – The new Consul General of Greece Ioannis Stamatekos has only arrived in Los Angeles for a few months but it is evident that during his tenure here the Greek-American community will experience a refreshing new attitude and an even more effective managerial style.

The Consul General was a gracious host and during our talk in his office, he pointed out some of the issues he is working on. One of his first priorities is to promote the official project of the Greek state ‘Study in Greece’ an experimental program of English-taught Bachelor degrees in Greek Universities that has proven very successful so far. A Bachelor of Arts in the Archaeology, History, and Literature of Ancient Greece is available from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, making it an attractive studying destination considering Greece’s glorious ancient history and plethora of monuments. Two Medical degrees, one from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the other from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens are also offered, connecting students with Greece, the birthplace of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. The benefits of those programs are obvious as the Greek Universities get to be known internationally and Greece becomes a center of international study competing with other countries which have already been study destinations. The financial benefits to Greek universities are important and the competitive tuition fees along with the high level of academic instruction is luring international students to our country. “Our aim is to spread the information to universities, students, and parents about these exceptional academic opportunities in Greece,” Stamatekos said. At the project’s portal studyingreece.edu.gr all relevant information is available.

Another program of vital importance is the Greek Cash Rebate that aims to attract major film, TV series, documentaries, and digital games productions to come to Greece for principal photography, production, or post-production services. Considering that Greece offers an abundance of beautiful locales, technicians experienced behind the camera, and talented actors and producers that many foreign productions can take advantage of, it is still a puzzle what took so many years for the Greek parliament to enact legislation for cash rebates that so many of our neighbors had done many years ago successfully. They finally passed the law in 2018 and the updated legislation raised the cash rebate to 40% that can also be used as a collateral for producers to obtain finance from Greek banking institutions.

 

Consul General of Greece in Los Angeles Ioannis Stamatekos. Photo: Courtesy of the Consulate General of Greece in LA

The effect of the new cash rebate program helped to skyrocket the productions that sought to take advantage of it. From April 2018 until January 2023 there have been 323 applications included in the cash rebate program among them 143 international productions that resulted in 619 million euros that have been invested in the country.

Some well-known international productions that have recently filmed in Greece are ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’, ‘The Lost Daughter’ that was nominated for three Academy Awards, ‘Rise’, a film about NBA Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, ‘Greed’, the Apple TV+ series ‘Tehran’, and ‘The Expendables’ season  4. Ruben Ostlund’s film ‘Triangle of Sadness’, which won the Palme D’ Or in the 2022 Festival de Cannes and was nominated for three Academy Awards also showcased the beautiful Chiliadou Beach on the island of Evia, Greece that was awarded the best European location in the film and TV industries. Corfu had won the same distinction in 2018 and that will surely intensify the quest from location scouts to discover the next dream Greek location.

Stamatekos also talked about the constantly increasing demand for Digital Nomad visas which are used by professionals working remotely, a trend that became acceptable in large part due to the pandemic and continues to grow. Greece has been one of the favorite destinations as professionals enjoy the Mediterranean climate, the proximity to nearby Greek Islands for a relaxing weekend, mountain resorts, and lower cost of living. Importantly, there is sufficient technical infrastructure as major cities now are offering 5G networks that are also expanding to the islands. Recently passed legislation that offers a 50% tax break for the first seven years for foreigners who are willing to move their tax base to Greece, will hopefully become a very attractive alternative for wealthy individuals and retirees.

It is worth noting that during the recent visit of the Ministry of Interior’s Secretary General for Citizenship Athanasios Balermpas, the Consulate of Greece in Los Angeles organized meetings with leaders of the Greek diaspora as well as with actress Nia Vardalos and director Nick Cassavetes about Greek citizenship and Greek diaspora voting.

Unfortunately, the Greek parliament placed a requirement that in order to vote you have to prove that you have lived in Greece for two years in the last 35. It is hard to understand what purpose that requirement serves as most Greeks who live abroad visit Greece regularly, easily exceeding the two-year time frame which is very difficult to prove, but they follow the news from the homeland frequently. That requirement will surely exclude many Greek citizens from voting. Nevertheless, it is a good first step and hopefully the law will be amended soon. Consul General Stamatekos in his short time in Los Angeles has made every effort to engage our community by visiting different parishes, providing information about the Consulate’s services and by attending many of the community’s events. It has been a promising start to a new era.

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