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Deputy Foreign Minister Amanatidis' speech at the presentation of the Greek Diaspora Map (Thessaloniki, 14 June 2017)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a particular pleasure to be presenting, for the first time, the digital, interactive Greek Diaspora Map here in Thessaloniki, which has always been the heart of the Greek Diaspora.

The Greek Diaspora Map is a unique digital record and representation of the Greek presence abroad and was initiated in 2015, with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry's missions abroad, whose personnel I want to thank publicly for their response. And I also want to thank South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX).

As we implement a platform commitment we made two years ago, the Greek Diaspora – along with others – is gaining a modern, interactive and openly accessible tool, a vehicle for further strengthening its relations with the homeland, and a dynamic network for interaction between Greeks living abroad.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In a multifaceted international environment, networking is one of the key skills and challenges of the 21st century; a need to which this initiative responds.

The updating, gathering and recording of all the data regarding locations and addresses of the Greek communities, the organizations, clubs, associations, chambers of commerce, media outlets and other structures of Diaspora Hellenism, as well as of individual distinguished Greeks of the Diaspora, was carried out under the guidance of Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and was delivered to the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad. The database itself was developed by South East European Studies at Oxford (SEESOX), in the context of the broader "Greek Diaspora Project," which produced the first digital map of the Greek Diaspora.

This map is a means of support for Greek scientists who, due to the economic crisis, moved abroad in their thousands, and it can help convert this 'brain drain' into 'brain circulation' between the Diaspora and the homeland, with the aim of capitalising on their experience and knowledge, and eventually bringing them back to our country.

There are many benefits from the creation of this digital map, because, for the first time, the Greek Diaspora is depicted accurately and in real time in all its breadth. For this reason, I extend an open invitation to the Greek Diaspora to contribute to the effort and thus optimise the potential of the Greek presence beyond our country's borders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Greek presence even in the farthest reaches of this world, which this map reminds us of, encourages us to fight back against every adversity. The survival of the Greeks of the Diaspora and their subsequent prosperity and progress in foreign environments are evidence of fortitude and faith.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The government, and the prime minister in particular, attaches great importance to the promotion of Thessaloniki and the region of Southeast Europe as a centre of international political initiatives. And this is exhibited by tomorrow's Greece-Israel High Level Cooperation Council and the Greece-Cyprus-Israel trilateral summit meeting.

Thus, in my assessment, conditions have matured for us to discuss the Government House and its use, and I would propose that it be the headquarters for all of the Diaspora organizations (World Council of Hellenes Abroad, Diaspora Museum) and, at the same time, that it be granted to the citizens of Thessaloniki as a centre for culture, tradition and the arts, with the participation of the local administration, the Vice-Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace, and the University, within the framework of the government's more general policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The digital map of the Greek Diaspora is part of a broader collaboration between the Foreign Ministry and the University of Oxford - SEESOX, which we will expand today with the signing of a relevant Memorandum of Cooperation. At the same time, however, it is a manifestation of educational and cultural diplomacy, which often travels more easily than tradition diplomacy.

Educational and cultural diplomacy creates relationships with nations and peoples; relationships that exist beyond changes in governments and policy, and above all it is the only form of diplomacy that can reach young people and a wider range of people who are interested in culture. It speaks to people's hearts.

Capitalising on our historical and cultural wealth, this digital map, like our institutional cooperation with internationally recognized academic institutions abroad, allows us to dynamically promote Greek studies as a foundation of Humanism and headspring of Western Civilization, and to pursue the establishing of university chairs of Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at universities abroad.

Our immediate next steps include the enrichment of the digital map with data from the Education Ministry (Greek community schools) and cooperation with the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus, so that we can make this into a digital map of all Hellenism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Cutting-edge technology, in-depth research and expertise from SEESOX and the political will and vision of the Foreign Ministry brought Hellenism closer together today. The only thing separating us anymore is the push of a button. It is my hope and wish that this digital map will bridge any distances and keep Greek communities vibrant in a digital galaxy.

Thank you.

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