On the Need to Modernize the Greek Consulates

Former minister Stefanos Manos praises the Mitsotakis government – with his article in the newspaper Ta Nea on July 30 and with his post on Twitter – for extending the validity of the Greek passports from 5 years – which was the time frame until now – to 10 years. “It is a small, but an important convenience,” he writes, “for thousands of citizens in Greece and especially abroad.”

And indeed “it is a small, but an important convenience,” for us Greek-Americans, so we thank the Minister of Citizen Protection, Takis Theodorikakos.

Manos also writes the following: “The next step in the modernization would be to abolish the obligation to present a photograph at the police station or the consulate, and for the interested parties to be photographed where the passport is issued. The issue was raised by Andreas Drymiotis…”

It is encouraging that, finally, the issue of better serving the Diaspora is gaining momentum not only within the government but also outside. Only in this way, with the participation of Greek society as a whole, will the gap between the diaspora and the motherland be bridged.

For the sake of history, I should note that this momentum – even if it is still limited – in support of issues of importance to Hellenes Abroad – started with the government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, indeed, from the first day of its term.

In addition to giving a vote to us expatriates, this specific issue was discussed in the presence of the Prime Minister, as well as in a special meeting of the then-Minister of the Interior Takis Theodorikakos, the head of the Police, and myself.

In general, the government had begun to work intensively to modernize the consulates, to bring them into the 21st century, to reduce the suffering of both Hellenes Abroad and civil servants – while also reducing the cost to the state.

And yes, there is no reason in the world that the person concerned should not be photographed – as has been done here for years now with the issuance of driver’s licenses – at consulates to avoid mistakes, which are now made with a significant percentage of passport applications, many of which are rejected due to inappropriateness of the photos.

In addition, at the time these matters were being discussed, those within the government said that the transfer of the application – and so many other applications, notary documents, etc. – could now, and should now be done electronically and not with the diplomatic pouch, which takes time.

To those who are likely to raise the question of the security of government documents, I would reply that they would do well to discover what century we are living in.

The Mitsotakis government has undertaken a titanic struggle to modernize the state. Of course, it is not only the affairs of Hellenes Abroad that need modernization. It’s the whole state.

But, certainly, the needs of Hellenes Abroad must be addressed.


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