Leading figures from every field will gather together for the first time in a “Summit of European Diasporas,” The Summit is being held under the auspices of Greece’s EU Presidency and in parallel with the Thessaloniki European Council, 19-21 June.
The Summit will gather together 60 personalities from current and future Member States who live outside their country of origin as citizens of a wider European Diaspora and are active in the worlds of politics, media, business, civil society, academia, the arts, sport, science and others. Participants include: Jim Gianopulos, Chairman, Fox Filmed Entertainment; Soprano Karita Mattila; Georges Ugeux, Senior Managing Director International, New York Stock Exchange; Otto Zich, Chairman, Sony Europe Management Committee; and Sister Leena Deevy, director of the Irish Immigration Center in the US; Lord Alfred Dubs, head of the Labour Party in the House of Lords; and Olympic Gymnast Nadia Comaneci.
Summit participants, nominated by the Union’s foreign ministers, will explore Europe’s emerging identity; offer insights into how Europe’s institutions might interact more effectively with Europe’s global citizens; and draw on their experiences to help guide policy on such issues as transatlantic relations and the integration of immigrants—one of the Greek Presidency’s highest priorities.
“Those Europeans who have pursued lives and careers outside their countries of birth are uniquely valuable in helping us forge Europe’s emerging identity,” says Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is convening the Summit. “What they have done on an individual level—bridging cultures while rethinking and maintaining their own—is what an expanding Europe is seeking to do on a collective level.”
The Summit will culminate in the creation of a European Diasporas Task Force, which will be charged with developing recommendations on how the EU can strengthen relations with European diasporas and draw on their experience and knowledge. The Task Force, on which Minister Papandreou will serve as honorary chair, will hold its first meeting on June 21 in Thessaloniki. It aims to present its report to the Irish EU Presidency in the spring of 2004.
The Summit aims to:
• Create the notion of a ‘European Diaspora’ and highlight its achievements, from the contributions its members have made to their host communities, to the support they have offered to their native countries, to their role in building multicultural, global communities all over the world;
• Honour leading members of this diaspora, who hopefully will form the nexus of a network that can enhance Europe's presence in the world and initiate an enduring dialogue between Europe and its diaspora communities worldwide;
• Highlight to European publics the ways in which immigrants benefit their host societies.
Summit participants will also have the opportunity to meet with EU leaders participating in the Thessaloniki Summit in Porto Carras.
Gregory A. Maniatis Cleopatra van de Winkel
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www.europeandiasporas.org (as of June 14)