OPINION

The PM in New York and the value of the diaspora

the-pm-in-new-york-and-the-value-of-the-diaspora

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. His brief stay in the city has three aims. The first concerns drumming up support for Greece’s positions vis-a-vis the tension with Turkey and promoting the country’s added value on the regional stage. The second is attracting foreign investment, and the third is coming into closer contact with America’s Greek diaspora.

Attention tends to be focused on the first two areas because of their importance to the country’s security and its economic trajectory. In this respect, it comes as no surprise that every Greek prime minister participating in the UN General Assembly uses their time on the podium and meetings on the sidelines to express Athens’ concerns about Ankara’s behavior, to showcase Greece’s potential role, but also to stress Greek positions and initiatives on a range of other important issues, among which is also climate change.

Contacts with businesspeople in the mecca of capitalism are also important and can yield gains. Everything, of course, is judged by results as a few meetings between ministers and prime ministers and businesspeople and funds are not enough, but there will, nevertheless, be quantifiable evidence of their effectiveness in the inflow of capital and the implementation of certain investments.

The third aspect of the Greek prime minister’s visit to New York is also very important, however, particularly for the exchange of information and opinions with leading members of the diaspora who have a certain amount of influence on the political system of the world’s superpower.

Every diaspora organization plays a part – some greater than others. The Archdiocese of America can also do its part. There are also mistakes being made, occasionally grave ones, even by people in positions of authority.

Overall, however, the Greek-American community’s influence is a reality. A typical example is the position of the president of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Bob Menendez. The powerful lawmaker would not have taken such strong and clear positions and would not have influenced decisions as much as he does, were it not for his ties to the diaspora.

Even the meeting Mitsotakis has planned with Jewish American groups has been facilitated by the latter’s good cooperation with Greek Americans over the decades. The ground is even more fertile thanks to the deepening of Greek-Israeli ties on the bilateral level but also via agreements like the tripartite partnership with Cyprus that eventually became a 3+1 partnership with the United States in the role of observer.

Returning to the Greek diaspora, and particularly that in the world’s most powerful country, politically, militarily and economically, it is clear that it has a vital role to play. So, in this respect, the prime minister’s speech at the UN, his diplomatic contacts and his meetings with potential investors are certainly important, but attention must also be given to the diaspora’s added value, which Greece has every reason to take advantage of and cultivate. To do so, it must strengthen the relationship in every aspect, most importantly institutionally.