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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM pledges law allowing Greeks abroad to vote

  • [01] PM pledges law allowing Greeks abroad to vote

    Greeks living abroad will be able to vote in the next general elections after 2008, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis announced on Friday in his address to the opening session of the 6th World Convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) taking place in Thessaloniki.

    The prime minister stated that the vote would be based on the European Parliament election model and that those eligible to vote will be all Greeks living abroad who are registered voters. He added that those living in other countries will be able to vote for the candidates in the electoral districts in which they were registered.

    He reiterated that legislation executing article 51 of the Greek Constitution, which guarantees Greek expatriates the right to vote, will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the current government‚s term in office.

    In comments to reporters in Athens, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that the prime minister's commitment deepened democracy and responded to a long-standing demand of Greeks throughout the world.

    The spokesman also noted that the government was seeking to strengthen institutions and did not intend to take anyone by surprise, pointing out that the measures were included in the Constitution but that the previous government had failed to pass a law to execute them.

    He also reiterated that the details of the measure needed to be carefully worked out and that this required time, since there were major problems to be resolved.

    Greece's leadership addresses 6th Convention of overseas Greeks

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party president Alekos Alavanos and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis all addressed the first day of the 6th SAE World Convention of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) on Friday.

    The two-day convention will be addressed on Saturday by main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou.

    All the speakers stressed the importance of preserving unity and close ties between Greeks throughout the world in order to ensure that Greece maintained a strong presence on the international scene, while the prime minister also announced plans to pass legislation executing the Constitution that would give Greeks living abroad the right to vote in general elections.

    President Papoulias additionally noted that the SAE's contribution in achieving the goal of unity among the world's Greeks could be decisive in this effort, and that Greeks abroad were a bridge of friendship and cooperation between their new countries and Greece, helping to serve its foreign policy interests with great efficiency.

    According to Karamanlis, the SAE convention sent out a message of "national unity and accord of the Greeks of the world", while he called the 6th convention "a landmark in the organisation's history".

    "With the experience of the efforts made over the 11 years, by using the relevant law executing the Constitution and, above all, with the expressed will, contribution and joint action of all the political forces in the country we can now proceed more strongly," he stressed.

    The prime minister also pointed out that the coming years would be very important for the future of Greeks throughout the world, since the original generation of emigrants would now have to hand over the reins to the next generations born and raised abroad.

    "We all realise that the needs and life experiences of the emigrants in the '30s, '50s and '60s are very different to the needs today of the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those that left back then. The world has changed and is still changing at an unprecedented pace. The technological leaps taking place in our age have eliminated distances," he said.

    According to the premier, these new technologies and the opportunities for communication that they created provided new tools, not just for preserving the ties between Greece and its expatriates but for actually making them closer and stronger.

    The foreign minister, on her part, described Greeks abroad as a factor of strength for Greece and its foreign policy and outlined the government's actions to reorganise and upgrade the SAE, while she thanked outgoing SAE President Andrew Athens for his work.

    Noting the need for decisiveness, flexibility and imagination to formulate new policies in the face of new realities and challenges, she pledged to further strengthen cooperation with overseas Greeks to ensure a better future for Greeks throughout the world.

    The meeting was also addressed by Alavanos, who criticised the premier for announcing plans to give Greeks abroad the right to vote before having heard their own proposals and stressed the need for the SAE to be autonomous of the government, parties and the Church.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, proposed a "Parliament" of overseas Greeks and allowing the diaspora to elect 12 MPs to the Greek Parliament from among their numbers, while calling on the parties to promise to place an overseas Greek at the head of their state deputy list in the next general elections.

    A message to the convention from Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga was read out by KKE MP Nikos Gatzis.


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