The third SEESOX Hellenic Advisory Board meeting takes place in London

The third SEESOX Hellenic Advisory Board meeting takes place in London

10 October 2019

The third annual meeting of the  Board took place in the Castlereagh Room of the Travellers Club in Pall Mall, London, on 10 October. It was preceded by a lunch in the Library, where the guest speaker was Sir Ivan Rogers, former UK Representative to the European Commission in Brussels, who brought members of the Board up to date with Brexit developments.

Nikolaos Karamouzis opened the formal meeting by warmly welcoming attendees. The new Greek government was open to the world, business-friendly and interested in the diaspora. The Greek Diaspora Project was therefore relevant and timely. He added that after three years, and the first phase of the Board’s work, it was a good time for him to step down. His soundings suggested that Alexandros Sarrigeorgiou should succeed him. This suggestion received unanimous support, as did the proposal that Mr Karamouzis remain on the Board as Honorary Chair. The new Chair thanked Mr Karamouzis for his exceptional work. Othon Anastasakis added that words could not convey what Mr Karamouzis had done for SEESOX.

There followed progress reports on the SEESOX Greek Diaspora Project (GDP). Manolis Pratsinakis reported on outputs: publications: forthcoming publications, working papers, research briefs, books. These concentrated in particular on recent migration, philanthropy, political participation, and the Greek diaspora in the UK. Antonis Kamaras concentrated on efforts to publicise the project in the Greek and UK press; and on building relationships with key stakeholders including the Greek MFA and  the Greek Secretariat for Greeks Abroad. Foteini Kalantzi also stressed stronger emphasis on outreach following guidance from the Board at the last meeting: stronger dissemination strategy, a more developed and revamped  map. More data was being added all the time, including valuable material from the Onassis Foundation. Othon Astanasakis looked to the future, and the post-crisis environment. There should be awareness and mutuality in relations between homelands and diasporas. He agreed that the conditions in Greece now were favourable. SEESOX had a track-record of work done. The Project now needed  widening (Australia and the US) and deepening (increased data). Antonis Kamaras outlined four priorities: structural trends; government policies responding to these trends; from brain drain to brain regain; and strengthening the team by an additional scholar to work on the Greek economy. 

David Madden briefed on other SEESOX work,  especially on geo-politics – which had always been one of the main thematic priorities of SEESOX since its inception.  There would be a Hilary Term seminar series on security challenges in and to the region: followed by presentations to the Ambassadors Forum, the Global Strategy Forum, and at the Megaron in Athens.

Kalypso Nicolaidis reported on the future of Greek studies at Oxford. Brexit  would bring challenges as in all areas; so there would have to be some reinvention, and using one’s resources eg diasporas. In one way being in the EU had tended to make people lazy. There should be new energy, and a spirit of neo-bilateralism.

Othon Anastasakis presented the financial situation of SEESOX and also reported that the Greek Government had asked SEESOX to produce ideas for invigorating UK/Greek relations.

It was an interactive meeting; and, throughout these briefings and presentations, members of the Board asked questions regarding facts and interpretations. Xenophon Kappas mentioned the need to cooperate with Greek Universities and think tanks in a more systematic way. He also  reported that work was going ahead for a celebration in 2021 of the 200th anniversary of the movement for Greek Independence. It was agreed that this offered opportunities for favourable initiatives.