ATHENS – A ‘Virtual Assistance’ service for the general public has been launched in 85 countries by the Foreign Ministry of Greece, including in all 126 Greek consular locations, according to an announcement.
The aim of the initiative is to improve, indeed to provide at a high level of quality the services provided by Greek consular authorities for both Greek citizens residing abroad and foreigners.
The Foreign Ministry stressed in the announcement that people can engage the consular services without the need to be present in person.
The ‘Virtual Assistance’ service already operates in Greek, as well as in English, French, German, and Spanish in all consular offices in countries where those languages are used. Using artificial intelligence, the service will evolve and provide guidance and information to citizens in a total of 19 languages, including Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Swedish, and Turkish. It is estimated that the service will be fully implemented by March, 2023.
The Virtual Assistance services have the form of a ‘Digital Assistant’ that interacts with the user by understanding and answering questions asked in written language, through a digital channel (the consular authority’s website, Facebook Messenger, or Viber).
The Virtual Assistant is able to suggest to the user actions he or she should take, depending on the question, regarding each consular service.
Soon, the Virtual Assistant will be able to refer persons to the new request management platform currently being implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus, consular services will be provided entirely digitally and requests will be processed electronically for all cases that do not require physical presence at the consulate.
With this service, the announcement notes – more will follow – that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is changing, dynamically entering a new era and leading the way globally with new digital services that significantly improve communication and services to citizens abroad and others.
The initiative is being implemented under the project titled ‘Transforming Consular Services Processes’ and is funded by the operational program ‘Public Sector Reform’ under the NSRF, EKT and national resources.