Greek Ambassador Presents a Progressive Worldview
By C. Naseer Ahmad
The International Correspondents Committee of the National Press Club held this year’s first “Embassy Nights” series meeting at the Greek Embassy. About fifty journalists attended this memorable function. Ambassador of Greece Christos Panagopoulos and his staff welcomed the visiting journalists and the National Press Club President Angela Greiling Keane.
Greece has been in the news for its financial challenges and the consequent political upheavals. The country’s tourism industry appears to have been hit hard due to these difficulties and the perception of instability. Despite the recent problems, the mood in the embassy was very upbeat. One reason perhaps was the news that evening that the country announced a budget surplus. Keeping in focus the importance of tourism to the Greek economy, the embassy staff is eager and working hard to present a welcoming mat for potential tourists.
The embassy website noted the event as an “opportunity to exchange views relating to Greece’s strategic role in its broader region.” It states that the Greek “Ambassador Panagopoulos further stressed Greece’s commitment to make the best use of the ongoing sacrifices of its people, of the European solidarity, and of the support of its partners in order to fully expand its real potential.”
The meeting was an impressive performance of dedicated diplomats who answered the questions in a frank manner. For instance, these days hardly a day goes by without the news of loss of innocent lives caused by violent extremism – from religious, political or mental health issues related. In answering one of the security related questions, Ambassador Panagopoulos urged caution so as not to paint any particular religion or ethnicity with a broad brush and that actions of extremist should not be used as an excuse to stereotype Muslims or other faiths.
Greece is considered as a transit point for immigrants – from Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries – heading into the European Union countries. It appears to present law enforcement and human rights issues for the Greek government to prevent illegal migration as well as exploitation and human trafficking. During the conversations, one could note the challenges the government faces in balancing law enforcement, human rights all the while trying to maintain an edge as the sought after tourist destination.
In almost every village in Pakistan, there is a good chance of finding half a dozen or so who are named as “Sikander (Alexander)” or “Sikandera (Alexandra)”. And, as one travels along the Indus River, one finds countless reminders of the links between Pakistan and Greece that have endured through the centuries and generations.