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On Wednesday, I had the honor to attend a webinar that I will remember for a long, long time. Organized by Hellenic Initiative Canada, this was projected to be a conversation with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece. Even though he could not make it to the event, since he had a meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic, the webinar was in no way less exciting or important. Nikos Dendias, the former Minister of National Defence and current Foreign Minister of Greece, ‘stood up’ for the challenge and was the Greek government representative for the webinar.
The webinar started with the Co-President of the Organisation, John Sotos, and the introduction of the former Canadian Ambassador in Greece and current Honorary Director of the organization, Robert Peck. The first segment started with the role of Greece in the European and International political stage. The former Ambassador started analyzing the Greek Canadian and the Canadian firms that have invested in the ‘booming’ industries of Greece and the future of the new infrastructure and the seaplanes model.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs started with a statement for the first ‘seaplanes’ and the Canadian contribution to tourism development in Greece. The comments that followed were about the difficulty of providing a Canadian financial investment to creating opportunities and jobs in Greece, regardless of the financial crisis.
It is significant to state that the bond created between the two countries and the multifaceted cultural points were the aspects that will push the economy of the European country out of the socio-economic issues. The next part was about diplomacy and the multilateral friendship with all the Mediterranean countries and moving towards a peaceful and international stage of politics.
“We cannot change the world but we can try”
After the question of diplomacy, there is a mild discussion and relations between Greece and Turkey. It is significant to state that the government of PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis did not expect such a hostile environment between the neighboring countries along with the refugee crisis. Turkey’s reasonable behavior is coming back, and there is an effort to ‘sit at the table’ and continue the bilateral discussions for cooperation.
The strategy and the principles of the UN Security Council, the Biden Administration, and the global powers’ approach as a whole has helped Greece. Nonetheless, it is too early to talk about the Turkish people in Cyprus practicing peace and the Turkish government ending the aggressive tactics in the Mediterranean altogether. The agreement of negotiation in the European Union has been facing all types of obstacles after the pandemic, the financial world’s problems, and the answer to today’s health issues. The government’s position in Greece is covered by the statement “Vaccination is a Human Right.” Although Greece is not a big country and cannot take leadership, it can significantly change and contribute to a better beginning of the decade.
The second segment started with the Greek Canadians’ topic and the citizens of the diaspora, introduced by Katerina Sokou, the communications director of the Canadian organization. The topic started with the question of the measures about strengthening the relations and the well-being of the Greek diaspora communities abroad.
The government’s long-term strategy is based on promoting the Greek culture, and various events, including the new network of interactive learning of raising awareness for the European country’s aspects, are of enormous importance. More than 500,000 young citizens left Greece due to the financial crisis and followed their studies abroad, which is not a pleasant change since, according to the Minister, it was not their choice, but they were obliged.
The answer to the question of embracing all Greek communities outside Greece is one: digitalization. The current government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is working to communicate and help all people use technology to cover all civil and bureaucratic issues. The segment moved on for the board of trade and the question of supporting the Greek exporters and the trading scheme’s operation. In the past, the imports that were coming in were handled by the Minister of development. Now, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has created a new direction for the preparation of trade growth. The government is also trying to support all contributions to the Greek economy while simultaneously increasing the number of investments.
The country of Greece will not survive if the imports continue to outweigh the exports, which is why the government of Mitsotakis is working to help the enterprise find a home abroad and, more importantly, in Canada. The Greek government provides the funds and the know-how, and it’s part of an ongoing process to create a financial aid scheme, which still has a long way to go.
The minister understands that the economy needs a scheme of modernization, and the problems of Greek bureaucracy are working as an obstacle of the Greeks being abroad and thinking about expanding their business in their home country.
The answer to this issue is, once again, modernization. Additionally, the creation of a sustainable and environmentally friendly plan is also of equal importance.
The human capital is what makes the difference in the 21st century, and the government believes in the new generation of Greece; the experience of the Greeks in diaspora and their return to the home country would provide immense value to the people who want a smooth transition in the previously financially harmed country.
The next question was based on tourism problems and the COVID-19 obstacle to the revenues generated from the summer’s Greek seasonal economy. The government’s first principle is to regulate travel through the green certificate and the registration of welcoming safe and vaccinated tourists. The government expects the opening of the industry only if the human life of the visitors is protected.
During the efforts of protecting the population, the Greek government hopes to understand the Israel and Cyprus government’s efforts and apply a similar kind of model. Then, the focus shifted on parliamentary diplomacy and the connection between the Greeks and the Canadians; it would be a handy tool to correlate the two sides’ interest and the generation of opportunities for the Ministers between the two countries.
“The ocean may divide the countries, but the values between the countries may build a bridge.”
The challenges of COVID-19 affected the diplomatic relations and the contacts between the countries that negotiated with Greece. Regardless of the risk, the Minister of Affairs had to keep up the level of human contact and meet under acrimonious restrictions. Teleconferences are a great way to make contact possible between the two sides but the actual ‘conference meetings’ help more diplomats connect.
After the pandemic ends, the government will capitalize on the close contacts of the greeks in the home country and the people abroad, especially in Canada. The universities’ use will also be valuable for the future of bilateral relations and the projects of participating in great projects for all Greeks throughout the world.
The concluding remarks from Dendias started with discussing all these essential issues and stressed the importance of the Greeks abroad and the friends of Greece expressing their ideas and engaging for the better bond of the two countries. Better connections would benefit both countries, and the possibilities for political, legal, and economic growth are endless.