Ready to sign says Greece

first_imgGreece is ready to sign a Work and Holiday Visa agreement but is waiting on the Australian government to deliver the paperwork. In an interview with SBS’ Greek program this week, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Akis Gerontopoulos, Minister responsible for the Hellenic Diaspora, said the Greek government is “ready to sign”. “From now on it’s an Australian issue – if Australia brings us the agreement we will sign it”. This is the second time within the past three months that the Greek government had made public its desire to speed up the signing of an agreement with Australia. As reported in Neos Kosmos in May, Federal Labor MP Maria Vamvakinou raised the issue in Greece during a meeting with Mr Gerontopoulos’ predecessor Kostas Tsiaras. The then Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece indicated to Ms Vamvakinou that the Greek government would be in a position to sign off the agreement before September 2013. Work and Holiday Visas will give the opportunity to approximately 500 young people between 18 and 30 to be able to work either in Australia or in Greece while officially they are on holidays. Apart from Work and Holiday Visa’s, Mr Gerontopoulos told SBS’ Greek program that he is sceptical about the future of the World Council for the Hellenes Abroad (SAE) stating very few people participated in the public dialogue of a bill drafted by former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Dimitris Avramopoulos and former Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Tsiaras. The anticipated bill is to attempt to restructure SAE which is an advisory body to the Greek government for issues that touch upon the lives of the Greek diaspora. “Only a few tens of Greeks abroad or their organisations commented in a two month period,” said Mr Gerontopoulos adding, “I am very sceptical because the response is not what I expected. It is better to delay the creation of a new SAE so that we can get as great a response as possible, so that more Greeks can participate” The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs also addressed the issue of granting to the Greeks living abroad voting rights for the Greek elections. “I am clearly in favour of our diaspora obtaining the right to vote, however we have to proceed in such a way so that we can create an interest” he said, citing the example of Germany where from the approximately 400,000 Greek national who live there only 25,000 participate in the elections for the European Parliament. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more