DIASPORA

Komvos, building crossroads for Hellenism

Komvos, building crossroads for Hellenism

An initiative that would bring together the disparate forces of Hellenism so that Greece could support Greeks across the world and they, in turn – connected at the core and to each other – could strengthen the country’s voice and the prospects of Greeks is something of a perennial demand. Many, and several worthwhile, efforts have been made over the years to create a body or agency that could transcend Greece’s borders and overcome the myriad bureaucratic and practical obstacles that arise when people from different parts of the globe try to pool their time, efforts and resources in support of such an initiative. And even though there are influential diaspora organizations in many cities, we do not have an organization that has been able to overcome the initial obstacles and to acquire stature and influence in Greece, to reach full maturity. The idea of such an initiative, however, continues to inspire people who believe in the need to unite the forces of the Greeks, and as a result we are seeing several interesting endeavors by people with the time and the resources to strive to this end.

The present-day challenges, technological solutions (like video calls, mainly), the overwhelming interest in such an endeavor and the passion and persistence of certain individuals are generating hope that the time is ripe for such a move to succeed. Following years of preparation, and inspired by the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek Revolution, the initiative Komvos: Networks of Global Hellenism recently evolved into a nonprofit organization. What its members hope is that Komvos – or “node” – will become a “reliable, nonpartisan platform for shaping a consensual national strategy with the active participation of diaspora Greeks,” the organization said in a press release last week.

Komvos connects a large number of distinguished academics and professionals in Greece and the diaspora, while it also enjoys significant support in Greece. When it began, it named former Greek president Karolos Papoulias, his successor Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and former prime minister Lucas Papademos as its honorary presidents. The latter two continue to serve in this capacity today. The board of directors, meanwhile, is indicative of the professional and geographical breadth of its members. Komvos is chaired by economist Ioannis Papanikolaou (Greece), with historian Angelos Chaniotis (USA) as vice president, former ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros (Greece) as general secretary, and economist Christoforos Sardelis (Greece) as treasurer. Its members comprise astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou (USA), biomedical engineer Vasilis Ntziachristos (Germany), lawyer Spyros Pappas (Belgium), former Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos (Greece), economist Vicky Pryce (UK), economist Michael Chaliasos (Germany) and pediatrics professor and medical clinical researcher George P. Chrousos (Greece).

Komvos connects a large number of distinguished academics and professionals in Greece and the diaspora, while it also enjoys significant support in Greece

“Komvos’ partners include distinguished Greeks from the diaspora and Greece from top universities and research institutes, the governor of the Bank of Greece, the president, general secretary and distinguished members of the Athens Academy, presidents of bank boards, honorary and serving diplomats, businesspeople with an international presence, chairmen and CEOs at respected think tanks and high-ranking executives at international organizations,” the group said in its press release. Details on Komvos and its members can be found on the website komvos-node.org (in Greek only).

While the “coexistence” of such members alone comprises a serious platform for the exchange of ideas, Komvos will seek to emphasize “the development of innovative growth-oriented and geostrategic proposals that forward Hellenism’s international presence and influence,” it said. “This will be accomplished with the creation of ad hoc networks of global Hellenism, also in cooperation with other suitable international or national networks for the promotion of joint actions.”

Apart from bringing together people from different disciplines and countries committed to a common purpose, Komvos also has the support of some significant institutions in Greece and aspires to reach out to other networks and agencies with the aim of doing its part in the pursuit of bigger objectives, as well as supporting existing initiatives and recommending new ones. However, beyond the role it can play in big projects, where Komvos will prove particularly useful is as a reliable partner without political attachments. The war in Ukraine, an aggressive Turkey, general regional instability and the effects of the pandemic are challenges that demand new ideas, tough decisions and national consensus. And an organization that brings together so many bright minds from Greece and the diaspora, which can express an opinion and recommend solutions guided only by the national interest, can provide a valuable service.

The greatest challenges that lie in its path, however, are a snarl of bureaucratic hurdles that persist despite progress in the digitization of the Greek public administration, but also questions like how such a body will be funded and run without unnecessarily overburdening its members. In other words, how it will overcome the challenges that have stood in the way of every worthwhile endeavor of this kind so that its members can give what they have to give to this collective effort.