Monday, July 13, 2009

The integration of Diaspora Greeks into Greek national life part 1

Diplomatic Periscope recently posted a thoughtful article by Mr. Ioannis Touloumakou, a Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The article is an attempt to trigger a discussion on the role of the Greek Diaspora (or more accurately the Omogeneia) in Greek and Cypriot national life, and Hellenism more broadly. Antipodes will provide a two part series of translations from that article.

Touloumakou believes it is critical that the Greek Diaspora, despite its heterogeneity, should, and can be, a critical factor in the national strategy; particularly, today as the nation confronts a plethora of internal and external problems. However, Touloumakou points out the Greek Diaspora and its personalities, its history, geographical distribution, achievements and problems, is notably absent from the Greek school curriculum. Furthermore, the Greek Diaspora is hardly mentioned in the daily or periodical press and media of Greece.

Touloumakou then goes on to provide a series of ideas for the integration of Hellenes living abroad into Greek national life:

1. The establishment of a Ministry of Emigrants (the Greek Government had promised a Ministry to Greek parliamentarians from foreign countries after the 2004 Olympic Games, in which 25% of the Greek athletes were emigrants). The organization and responsibilities of this (independent) Ministry should be subject to a special study of specific factors by Greeks and Greeks abroad;

2. The reorganization of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (S.A.E) in accordance with the requirements arising from the (newly formulated) national strategy;

3. The establishment of an independent television channel with satellite range or the conversion of the existing Parliament House channel into an emigrant station;

4. The representation of Hellenes abroad in a new “National Institute of Educational Studies”, which will replace the currently (expensive and generally failed) Pedagogical Institute (and also a “Central Educational Council”) or the “National Institute for Radio and Television”, the “National Film Centre” and “National Book Centre”;

5. The reorganization of the education of Greek children abroad in close cooperation with the Church, whose role in this field, as in others, relating to cultural and social life of emigrants, was and is a national necessity;

6. The naturalization of young people of Greek origin under certain conditions, one of which (the most important) should be service (military or social) in the armed forces. The acute demographic problem, national defence program that cannot be addressed by professionals (and mercenaries) soldiers (especially after the recent reduction in the duration of military service) but above all the important educational role of the military in developing national and social consciousness, makes bringing volunteers of Greek communities abroad into the armed forces particularly important;

7. The introduction of Greek Olympic games every four years with the participation of young people from Greece, Cyprus and Greek communities abroad (and possibly foreigners, who know the Greek language and culture well); and

8. The establishment of Historical Museums for Diaspora Greeks in the capitals of the states, provinces or other jurisdiction which are comprised of many Greek immigrants.

To be continued.........

Source: Diplomatic Periscope (Ioannis Touloumakou), Antipodes

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