Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The new and improved Council of Greeks Abroad appears to be taking form. A proposed bill for the for its institution has now been made available for public comment by all Greeks living abroad, on the website of the aptly named Ministry for Administrative Reform and Electronic Governance, at www.opengov.gr. Interested parties have until 31 January 2012 to comment on the proposed legislation that will in effect, re-institute the Council. Deputy Foreign Minister Kostas Tsiaras commented: “We have managed to submit the proposed legislation to the General Secretariat on time. We are optimistic that its implementation will be the catalyst for the creation of a more substantial relationship between the motherland, Greece and world-wide Hellenism.” The announcement has met with mixed reaction and scepticism both among former delegates to the Council of Greeks Abroad in Australia, and the broader community. One such delegate, who did not wish to be named, stated: “It took so long to come up with a bill comprising twenty articles that are extremely brief and broad in focus. For example, according to article one, the aim of SAE is to be an “expression of the strength of world-wide Hellenism.” That could mean anything.” Another former delegate pointed to the fact that while the proposed legislation sets out broad aims and a structure for the organisation, it does not provide any mechanisms for achieving such stated aims as the promotion of the Greek language. “We all agree on what we want to do,” she stated, “but it appears from the draft bill that we still haven’t been able to work out how to achieve these aims. It feels as if we are going around in circles.” In some community circles the new proposed legislation was welcomed as it allows for all registered Greek organisations to take part in the Council, as opposed to the old Council which was mainly comprised of Federations of regional organisations. Others expressed concerns that given the multiplicity of organisations that exist in Australia, this could have the effect of making the institution unwieldy or even less representative than before. Some expressed the concern that the new legislation does not solve pre-existing problems and merely perpetuates them, stating that since any registered organisation may be a member of the Council, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, which did not take part in the previous Council owing to its objection to the inclusion of schismatic communities within it, will most likely be compelled to remain outside the Council once more as its concerns have not been addressed. The issue of representation seems to be the key concern. “On the one hand, the Greek government has failed to understand one important home truth,” one member of the community stated. “Most Greeks in Australia no longer belong to or are represented by community organisations, which are mostly defunct anyway. Effectively, the majority of Greeks are denied representation on this new Council. On the other hand, I note that membership of the Council is obtained by application but we are not told what the criteria for approval are. In effect, the Greek government itself may arbitrarily determine membership, just as they did in the previous Council. So what is the difference?” It is not known at this stage whether the draft bill will, upon its passage in Greek Parliament, be accompanied by auxiliary regulations that will give effect to its provisions.