The Prime Minister, who was joined by THI’s Global Chairman Andrew Liveris AO and the President of THI Australia Nicholas Pappas, discussed the strong ties that connect the Greeks living in Australia with Greece and ways to strengthen this cooperation.
The virtual video conference was watched by more than 600 members of the Greek community in Australia.
“I tried to come to Australia but, unfortunately, because of Covid-19, we had to reschedule our trips, so I hope that in either 2021 or 2022 I will be able to come to get to know this extremely dynamic and vibrant Greek community,” Mitsotakis said.
The PM also expressed his excitement for the upcoming year, as he sees 2021 as an opportunity to reintroduce Greece to the world as a “modern, vibrant, dynamic country” that “doesn’t rely on the laurels of the past.”
The conversation covered many issues including voting rights for Greeks abroad, Greece 2021 celebrations, the conflict with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean and the Benaki and Hellenic Museum (Melbourne, Australia).
Responding to how the Greek diaspora in Australia can strengthen ties to Greece and help in the country’s recovery, Mitsotakis mentioned two points: voting rights for Greeks abroad and infrastructure.
“We managed to solve a problem that had remained outstanding, one that the members of the Greek Diaspora always spoke to me about whenever I traveled abroad. From now on, especially the younger generation, those who left Greece in the last decade, will have the right to vote from their place of residence, without having to return to Greece,” he said.
“I have approved the relevant platform, we have three years until the next elections to make sure that everything works perfectly and it will be the first elections in which polls will be set up around the world, especially where there are large Greek communities, and in fact you will be the first to vote due to the time difference,” Mitsotakis added.
He also noted that there will be elected members of the diaspora in Greek Parliament.
Furthermore, the PM stressed that investments such as that of Microsoft show confidence in the long-term prospects of the country: “Investments in Greece are no longer just about tourism, they are about digital and “green” transformation, they are about skills, and that is why as a government, we have a very broad investment orientation and we have secured European resources for this transition.”
“But think of it, we’re a globally connected world where we can work from anywhere – COVID-19 has proven that if you have good digital infrastructure – which we do – and have further invested in, why not? Why should you consider Greece as just a place to spend your holidays? Why not live here? Why not retire in Greece? Why not work out of Greece? Why not work out of Kastellorizo?” Mitsotakis asked the audience.
Next year, 2021, is the 200th anniversary since the start of Greece’s struggle for independence in 1821. The PM stated that he sees 2021, as an opportunity “to re-establish Greece in the world as a modern and dynamic country, which does not rely only on its glorious past but embraces the challenges of the future.”
“We are excited to celebrate the emergence of modern Greece but celebrations will be more measured. We are still excited for the year to come.”
Regarding the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, Mitsotakis labelled Turkey’s actions as “provocative,” and underlined that Greece is “forging a network of alliances.”
“My task is to make sure that I don’t talk about the problems that we have with Turkey in a bilateral or a trilateral way – with Cyprus in my mind – but to make it a essentially a problem of interest to Europeans, to the Americans, to NATO and why not to people as far away as Australia. We are believers in international law, and the values of liberal democracy, and these are the values that Australia been known for.”
“Turkey has changed profoundly. One can’t rely on it as a stable ally. But we will not be bullied, we will not be blackmailed or forced into dialogue under conditions that are not acceptable to us,” the PM stressed.
Mitsotakis congratulated the Benaki and Hellenic Museum for working together.
“Benaki museum’s collaboration with The Hellenic Museum in Melbourne, is an example of how we can bring the Greek culture to Australia,” he said.
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