Dinos Konstantinou, the new Consul General of Greece in New York (left), stands next to the Publisher of the National Herald Eraklis A. Diamataris at the offices of the newspaper in Long Island City, NY. (Photo by TNH)
NEW YORK – Speaking to The National Herald, the new Consul General of Greece in New York, Dinos Konstantinou, who succeeds Dr. Konstantinos Koutras after his long and successful tenure, addressed a broad call for cooperation and unity to the Greek-American community through The National Herald.
Konstantinou, who visited the newspaper’s offices, is no stranger to Hellenism in America, since, back in 2002, he had served in the Embassy of Greece in Washington, DC. Now, from the important and critical post of Consul General in New York, he is preparing to leave his own stamp, in a position with a significant diplomatic, national, and social impact.
“It is a great honor for me to take over the Consulate General of Greece in New York. I am very happy to represent the Greek state in the largest expatriate region on the planet. I want to assure them that I will be by their side in any problem and concern they have and with any issue, and that the Consulate General is open to everyone,” said Constantinou.
He urged the Hellenes of New York to draw closer, emphasizing that, “I want to address a call both to the people who came to America with a dream of a better life and have been here for decades, but also to the descendants of these people, the new generation, that we all come closer together. The key to this is unity and we must ensure it. This unity will lead us to tomorrow, it will allow us to see benefits on both sides [of the Atlantic] for everyone.” He also stressed that he recognizes these times as a key historical juncture and he seeks the further upgrading of Greek-American relations.
“The moment is extraordinary and we must all take advantage of it – and I, as the representative of the Greek state, even more so.”
“To Improve Service”
Dinos Konstantinou takes over a Consulate General that is quite different compared to 2016, mainly in terms of the provision of electronic services. With an upgraded online service system, dealing with the public has now become much more flexible. He said, “we have the citizen in the foreground” with respect to the Consulate services, adding, “it is my intention to further improve this service. Of course, as you realize, with such a large number of expatriates in the four States that we are responsible for, many times patience will be required. I am mainly referring to the matter of passports, which, as you know, are issued by EL.AS, and there is a period of time that must pass between the application and the receipt of the passport. Also, we are experiencing a record year for tourist visits to Greece and this has dramatically increased the granting of visas by all consular authorities, especially New York. In any case, the doors of the Consulate are open for all citizens and for all matters.” Constantinou expressed his satisfaction with the breadth of the new electronic services. “Enormous steps have been taken in recent years, mainly with the digitization of various processes, if not all. It is not an exaggeration to say that for any matter of interest to the Greek, be it a registry or military service, the initial information he receives through the website directs him to all the steps he must take, and he can almost handle the whole matter electronically”, Konstantinou concluded.
In addition, regarding the right of expatriates to vote in Greek elections – given that he will be the first Consul General in New York to manage an election process – he expressed the certainty that everything will be ready in time.
“When we receive more specific instructions on the steps and conducting of the vote, we will issue the relevant announcement and we will be happy to accept as many expatriates as possible to vote,” he said, among other things.
“We Want Youth Participation”
With reference to the cultural activity of the Consulate General, which was a priority during Dr. Koutras’ term – even if some plans, due to the pandemic, were not implemented – Konstantinou declared that he will give culture its due weight, speaking also of a container of activity were culture and the promotion of tourism are connected.
“Culture is the cornerstone for perpetuating the Greek way of life, especially in America. I want not only to maintain cultural activity, but also to strengthen it, especially now that we seem to be emerging from the pandemic. We need to spread our culture, especially to the new generations, and I have in mind several ideas regarding the cultural agenda that will be implemented in the coming years in New York, serving also another main goal: Strengthening the participation of the youth of the Community in all the aspects of Hellenism in the Diaspora,” Konstantinou stressed.
KYTHIRA, Greece — Residents of a Greek island pulled shipwrecked migrants to safety up steep cliffs in dramatic rescues after two boats sank in Greek waters, leaving at least 17 people dead and dozens still missing.
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