GR US

Yes, It Is Greece's Obligation to Support the Greek Community

Ευρωκίνηση

Fle- PM MItsotakis at American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yorgos Kontarinis)

Change: every change, in every country, in every organization, whether big or small, causes reactions even from those who are positively affected.

Because change causes fear – fear of the unknown.

This is evidenced by a large number of studies - including an interesting book that has sold millions of copies, “Who Moved My Cheese,” which has also been translated into Greek.

I think almost all of us will agree that Greece moves at a slower pace than other countries, even its neighbors. And if it does not change course, if it does not deal with issues with realism and determination, then Greece will find itself in a serious deadlock.

Based on this notion, and his declarations that he will move forward with reforms, Kyriakos Mitsotakis was solemnly elected.

And that's what he's trying to accomplish.

One of the issues that needs to be addressed, requiring a new start and a new strategy, is the motherland's relationship with the Hellenic Diaspora.

Granting the right to vote is certainly a great start, despite the new law’s serious weaknesses. But that is not enough.

Almost everything that has been done since the beginning of Greek immigration to the United States is related to Greece. The question has always been “What can Hellenes Abroad offer Greece?”

It was always about our “obligations” towards the motherland.

However, the elements on the other side of the equation, the rights that we have (like voting), were until recently, non-existent.

We are brothers when we send contributions, but strangers when we ask for something.

And, of course, we are tired of being ‘praised’ for all the good that we do.

This has created a distorted impression on the homeland about what relations between Greece and the Diaspora should be like.

The Hellenic community from abroad offers: it builds churches, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.; it lobbies on national issues and is expected to invest in the country of its birth. But apparently, this community has no right to ask for anything - even when it is in serious trouble, even when it is asking for something related to the vital interests of the motherland - like preserving its ethnic identity abroad.

Does Greece not notice Turkey's investment in its own expatriates?

So, when this newspaper recently revealed the Greek Prime Minister's decision to provide 2 million euros a year to the $12 million budget of the Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston, the nursery of our future clergy, the main opposition party was annoyed.

It was something new. They might have been scared by the possible political dimension, even though the core purpose of the donation was not political gain.

Fortunately, Kyriakos Mitsotakis' reaction was catalytic. He unveiled, in a recent interview, a new strategy for the Hellenic Republic that proved not only how well he knows its issues but - equally important – his determination to implement his strategy because, as he said, it is "our duty to support the Church, the Archdiocese of America.”

Yes, that is the point.

Here is more of what he said:

“I have heard some criticisms, about why we are supporting the Theological School in Boston. It is our duty to support the Church, the Archdiocese of America, because the work that the Church is doing to keep alive the ties of the omogenia with its motherland is absolutely crucial. As crucial, of course, as teaching the language through new policies we want to implement, in support of the Diaspora schools - bilingual schools, which exist in many areas where we have strong Greek communities, afternoon schools, and weekend schools, organized by the Church. But also to leverage – and I insist very much on this – technology, which enables us to teach and interact using the Greek language in a way that is more digestible, more modern, more effective, so that the second, third, fourth generations with Greek roots will be able to maintain its communication with their homeland.”

Finally, a good friend of mine phoned me to declare his full agreement with my earlier commentary on this subject, “What Does Mitsotakis’ Decision Mean for the School of Theology?” which was published in our January 11-12 Greek edition and which is on our English website.

He added that Greece should set conditions regarding the use of the funds, with full transparency of the expenditures.

But that goes without saying.