Members of the Greek-American community gathered at the Kefalonian house in Astoria, New York on Saturday for the visit of Stefanos Kasselakis, president of SYRIZA.
Mr. Kasselakis attended with husband Tyler and his parents, and gave a speech together with SYRIZA MP and representative in New York Othonas Iliopoulos.
During the event, Mr. Kasselakis spoke about his politics and his gratitude to the American diaspora, where he lived for 21 years.
"It's a very emotional moment for me, I feel like I'm coming back to my family," said Mr. Kasselakis. "I have to find a way to be able to be in Greece and perform my duties and remain an active member of the diaspora. It's a developmental issue. It is a huge opportunity for Greece to be able to have a more equal development beyond our capabilities, to activate our community."
In particular, the SYRIZA president said that "it is unacceptable to have partisanship of the expatriate community." He added that there should be seats and constituencies for expatriates to be able to elect their own representatives directly from Parliament and not through party ballots.
"Expatriates are voting on a party ballot that they don't really can't vote for," he said. "We must give the Greeks outside the borders, in addition to the postal vote that I personally believe in, we must offer districts and seats to the expatriates."
He also talked about an easier process for Greek-American citizenship, saying that applications should be made online. He also added that he wants to build a Greek House in Manhattan to have a place to present the wealth of Hellenism.
During his visit to the Kefalonian House, the SYRIZA president answered questions from the guests about domestic and foreign policy, and gave time before and after his speech to get to know them.
"Within our diaspora we also have many expatriates, people my age and younger with excellent qualities and experiences, who want to return to their homeland," he said. "And last night in Manhattan and today here in Astoria, I have seen incredible human resources and I feel a responsibility to do everything so that these young people can come back and contribute to the future of Greece. Greece needs it."
On domestic policy, Mr. Kasselakis spoke about public education, public health and hospitals, and the separation of church and state, among other things.
His government said "it will be the most progressive government in the history of Greece," and that his party is trying to bring about change, both in Greece and abroad.
"What I will take from the event is how deep the community is in its belief in Greece," he said. "They feel it in themselves, the love for national issues, for the link with the country, cultural and political. I feel moved by the passion they have for their country and at the same time I feel a responsibility as a member of the community to bring solutions, to pass bills that will allow this community, not just America around the world, to feel like an equal community with the Greeks within the borders."
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