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Greek CommunityEventsPresident of SYRIZA, Kasselakis, visits the Kefalonian House in Astoria

President of SYRIZA, Kasselakis, visits the Kefalonian House in Astoria

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By Fotis Kaliampakou – Special to the Hellenic News of America

Stefanos Kasselakis, leader of the official opposition and president of SYRIZA, visited the Kefalonian House in Astoria last Monday. While his presence at the customary parade on Sunday had an institutional character, Mr. Kasselakis addressed messages of unity. However, the event in Astoria had a more relaxed atmosphere and was mainly attended by opposition members. This allowed Mr. Kasselakis to interact with many expatriates and express his views on various issues, while also sharply criticizing the government and the Prime Minister personally.

Among those present were SYRIZA MPs Anna Dourou, Nina Cassimati, and Othonas Heliopoulos, as well as SYRIZA’s European Parliament candidate, Antonis Gounalakis. Antonis Gounalakis, a doctoral candidate in economics at the University of Amherst in Massachusetts, emphasized the importance of expatriate participation in elections through absentee voting and addressed issues concerning the expatriate community, such as education. He also discussed economic matters, presenting SYRIZA’s positions.

Rena Dourou highlighted the party’s close relations with the expatriate community and expressed her joy at being back in New York and at the Kefalonian House. Nina Cassimati discussed important issues such as the institutional crisis in Greece and expressed optimism about SYRIZA’s prospects in the European elections.

On the same topic of institutions, Othonas Heliopoulos specifically addressed phone tapping, expressing concern about Greece’s involvement in violating personal data. He emphasized the need for transparency and accountability in such matters.

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The President of SYRIZA himself addressed the issue, speaking of a cover-up operation not only in the matter of wiretapping but also in the tragedy of the Tempi accident, calling for institutional changes regarding the law on ministerial responsibility.

In highly critical tones towards the government, Mr. Kasselakis discussed the issue of security, stating that despite the presence of many excellent and ambitious police officers, the security deficit persists. He cited the murder in Agioi Anargyroi, where the victim, seeking protection, was told inside the police station to “call the police”! Mr. Kasselakis also condemned the unhindered “parade” of Croatian hooligans through Greek territory, which tragically resulted in the loss of an AEK fan’s life, emphasizing the need for changes, both institutional and otherwise, in the police and the judiciary, holding the government accountable.

The government came under fire from the leader of the official opposition for healthcare and social welfare issues, calling for institutional changes and a change in mindset, in addition to resource allocation. The issue of people with disabilities is also high on SYRIZA’s agenda, as highlighted by its president, prompted by a question from a compatriot who, in a moving moment of the evening, recounted his personal immigration story, which was done to provide a better life for his child.

On economic issues, the SYRIZA leader painted a bleak picture of the situation in Greece. Despite improvements in certain indicators, the country is trapped in clientelistic capitalism, he emphasized, evident in various sectors, notably wind energy production. Only the “insiders” and the already powerful have access to investment opportunities and bank financing, he noted, pointing out that despite their significant profitability, banks do not guarantee market liquidity. Taxes are proportionally higher on the middle class than on the very wealthy, and delays in dispensing justice do not favor investment. Moreover, the insistence on indiscriminate privatizations and the lack of strong state control and interventions not only hinder economic growth but also exacerbate social inequalities. “A strong state does not mean a wasteful state,” stressed the SYRIZA president.

For over an hour after the speeches, Mr. Kasselakis engaged in discussions with expatriates on broader political issues as well as those concerning the expatriate community. He talked about the need to staff consulates, as delays in passport issues are unacceptable, especially since we want expatriates to come to Greece, and stressed the need to support schools and promote the teaching of the Greek language in the USA. The discussion also delved into deeper waters concerning the identity of the expatriate community. His mention of Greece’s demographic problem also struck a chord, emphasizing that beyond the fact that a model with an aging population is not economically sustainable, the issue has existential dimensions, threatening the country’s long-term survival.

The event took place in the aftermath of Mr. Kasselakis’s cancellation of his scheduled meeting with the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Mr. Kasselakis defended this decision, emphasizing his own and his party’s position, which, as he pointed out, has been the same for the past six months: that the bloodshed in Palestine must come to an end.

After the discussion, Mr. Kasselakis, in a particularly cheerful mood, continued to converse privately with expatriates and gladly posed for photos with everyone before renewing his appointment with the expatriate community. He promised to be present not only during election periods but consistently!

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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