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ERT online, Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation
1. You are an Australian of Greek descent. This is the first time Australia has appointed a Greek/Australian and a woman to head its Embassy in Athens. Do you think your background and knowledge of Greece will be an asset or a burden?
I believe that my knowledge of Greece, the Greek language and culture will be an advantage in better understanding Greece and the challenges it faces. We can work even closer together to pursue our shared interests.
We share the same values and are bound by shared history and strong community links. I have every confidence that the already close relationship between our two countries will continue to deepen, underpinned by our shared values and interests and the contribution of the 700,000 strong Greek Australian community in Australia and nearly 100,000 Australians living in Greece.
2. What is the view of Greece amongst Australia?
Greece has a glorious place in human civilisation. Our cherished values of democracy and freedom originated here. It is a country of natural beauty and resourceful people. Throughout history Greeks have prospered across the globe.
Australians have a lot of respect, admiration and a love for Greece and the Greek people. Greek Australians are a vital pillar of multicultural Australia. Together we have built a successful, prosperous and culturally rich country that is a force for good in the world. I would like to promote this image of Australia and Australians in Greece.
3. Which are the top priorities you have to face as the new Ambassador to Greece, a country dealing with financial crisis?
Showing our solidarity with the people of Greece during the crisis is a top priority. We understand the very difficult economic situation in which Greece finds itself. The Greek government has taken difficult measures and is putting in place tough reforms. I believe the country will emerge from this crisis stronger than before.
We also want to explore opportunities to partner with Greece to promote innovation, education reform, a knowledge-based economy. And of course to increase trade and investment utilising our strong people-to-people links.
Greece is a key partner for Australia in the European Union. Australia has a key interest in a stable, prosperous Greece and a stable, prosperous Europe. One-third of Australia's direct foreign investment comes from the European Union.
4. Can you tell us about the nature of Australian society?
Australia is the world's 12th largest economy, a member of the G20 and a key player in our own East Asian region. We are the fourth largest humanitarian contributor to Libya, we are working with Egypt and Tunisia to support their democratic transitions and are actively promoting peace and stability across the region.
In Australia in the 1980s and 1990s under successive governments, we developed a community-wide consensus that we needed to change our direction towards greater openness and efficiency. These changes were not easy. They were hard. They required sacrifices from all sectors of society. But working together, we made it through. Australia is now enjoying unprecedented growth and prosperity. We in Australia are ready to share this experience and whatever knowledge we have to support Greek efforts, to help them see these changes through.
5. There is an increased interest in Greek migration to Australia and a dialogue between GOCMV (Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria) and Immigration Minister. What are your views on the subject?
Australia's migration program assists people wanting to settle in Australia who will make substantial economic, family and cultural contributions to our country. Our migration program is open to all people with skills sought by Australia, including from Greece. Australia is fortunate that the number of people who wish to migrate to Australia far exceeds the number of places available. Information about how to apply for migration to Australia can be found at www.immi.gov.au.
6. Could Australia and Greece enter into an agreement for a working holiday visa arrangement?
The working holiday maker visa program encourages cultural exchange by allowing young people between 18-30 years to have an extended holiday in Australia during which they can supplement the cost of travel to Australia by finding short-term employment. Australia has working holiday arrangements with 26 countries. We are open to discussing with the Greek government establishing a reciprocal working holiday arrangement to increase cultural and youth exchanges between our two countries. We would also welcome Greek students to come and study in Australia - joining some 400,000 students from over 190 countries who are receiving a first-class education in Australia and forging links between Australia and the world.
Πηγή: ΕΡΤ Αυστραλίας
Συνέντευξη - Ανταπόκριση: Έμμα Παπαεμμανουήλ