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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-05-24

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with South Australia State Premier Rann

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets with South Australia State Premier Rann

    Adelaide (ANA-MPA/A. Panagopoulos) -- Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis, on an official visit to Australia, met Thursday in Adelaide with South Australia State Premier Mike Rann, who had recently visited Athens and whom he thanked for his steadfast friendship to Greece and his support of the flourishing local Greek community.

    This is the first official visit by a Greek prime minister in office to Australia.

    Rann noted that he had met Karamanlis several years ago in Thessaloniki, and praised the role of the Greeks of Australia, stressed also the common struggles of the Greeks and Australians during WWII.

    Rann further described as "historic" the bilateral social security agreement signed between Greece and Australia on Wednesday.

    Karamanlis also met with Adelaide Lord Mayor Michael Harbison, while his wife Natasha, a doctor, visited a local women's and children's hospital.

    In a brief address later during a recption with the local Greek community, Karamanlis stressed that "the interest of all of us now focuses on the children who have not come to know Greece, but who are learning Greek in afternoon schools and do not have the opportunity to witness first-hand the pictures and traditions of the homeland".

    "It is these children who have the priority in our plans. We don't want them to be deprived of Greek education, Greek traditions. We don't want them to be far removed from Orthodoxy. It is the duty of all of us to keep these children in the national, cultural and linguistic embrace of Greece. Education and culture comprise a basic priority of our government's overall policy," Karamanlis said.

    In that framework, he said, the possibility was being examined of establishing a Greek teachers' training school in Australia, while adding that "we are aspiring, with many initiatives, to help you consolidate your pensions, to live Greece on your holidays or to visit it by taking advantage of one of the special programmes, to learn about Greece on a daily basis through free television, and to feel that you are taking into your own hands the course of ecumenical Hellenism from within the constant upgrading of the SAE (World Council of Hellenes Abroad)".

    Karamanlis further reiterated his government's intention that the oversees Greeks will acquire the right of absentee voting in Greek election from the countries of their residence, noting that "we want you to maintain your voting rights in Greece and participate, with your vote, in the political developments in our country".

    Karamanlis later left for Melbourne, where he will address members of the ethnic Greek community at a dinner.

    The Greek prime minister will meet with Victoria State Premier Steve Bracks and opposition members on Friday, while that same night he will address a mass gathering of Greek Australians at the Rod Laver Arena.

    On Saturday, Karamanlis will leave for Darwin, where he will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin, followed by a reception hosted by Martin.

    At noon on Saturday, the Greek prime minister will depart Darwin for Hanoi, Vietnam, on the last leg of his tour of Oceania, where he will have talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet.

    Greece-Australia social security agreement, message by Howard

    Greece and Australia signed a long-awaited bilateral social security agreement in Canberra on Wednesday, providing for recognition of Greek-Australians' pension and healthcare rights, during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' official visit to Australia and following talks with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

    The agreement was signed by Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, who is accompanying Karamanlis on his Australia visit, and Australian Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, and will enter into full force in about four months' time, after administrative arrangements are finalised and the necessary treaty and legislative processes are completed in both countries.

    A statement issued by Australian Prime Minister Howard welcomed the agreement as a "significant achievement between the two countries", adding that, in recognition of the importance of the "close and constructive relationship" between the two countries "based on strong community ties", the Australian government would be committing over 165 million Australian dollars over four years for the Agreement.

    Below is the full text of Howard's message:

    "I am pleased to announce the signing today of a new Social Security Agreement between Australia and Greece. The signing of the Agreement is a significant achievement between the two countries, which enjoy a close and constructive relationship based on strong community ties. In recognition of the importance of this relationship, the Australian Government has committed $165 million over four years for the Agreement.

    "This Agreement will provide improved access to age and retirement benefits for people in Australia and Greece, allowing people who live in either country to claim their entitlement to pensions from both countries. After the Agreement enters into force, former residents of Australia living in Greece will be able to claim an Australian Age Pension for the first time, with periods of insurance in Greece to be counted towards the residence requirements for Australian Age Pension. Similarly, many Greek-Australians living here will be able to claim a Greek old age pension, with periods of Australian residence being taken into account in working out eligibility for the Greek benefits.

    "In addition, the Agreement will reduce costs for businesses operating in both countries by removing the requirement for compulsory contributions to be paid into both countries' superannuation/pension systems in respect of temporarily seconded workers. Compulsory contributions will only be paid into the superannuation/pension systems of the home country.

    "The Agreement will take effect following the completion of all necessary treaty and legislative processes in both countries and once all necessary administrative arrangements have been finalised. At this stage this is expected to occur some time in 2008. Centrelink will write to all its Greek-Australian customers next year and will liaise with Greek-Australian organisations to ensure people know when they can apply for pensions under the new arrangements and how to go about doing so. Further information will be available on the following website: http://www.facsia.gov.au/internet/facsinternet.nsf/international/agreements-new.htm.

    "Large numbers of Greeks migrated to Australia during the 1950s and 1960s and today there are around 125,000 Greek born people living in Australia. Around 50,000 people in both countries are expected to claim a pension from Australia or Greece after the Agreement commences. "

    Caption: Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis on his official visit to Australia. (EPA/PAUL MILLER/POOL).


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