One of the fundamental goals of the Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) is the substantial and active participation of refugees and migrants in the host society. We strongly believe in an inclusive society based on active participation regardless of social, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds, ensuring equal rights and obligations for all. It’s a society where everyone feels they belong, with meaningful roles and responsibilities, particularly through access to institutions and decision-making processes that significantly influence our daily lives.
This, precisely means political integration and active participation of refugees and migrants leading to an effective and comprehensive integration in the society where they live and work. It means the right to access and engage in the fundamental democratic process of exercising the right to vote. This right extends to both being elected and electing representatives, particularly in local governance, which relies on the active participation of all citizens in the society. Ultimately, it means our collective responsibility to uphold democracy, social cohesion, peace, and prosperity without barriers or exceptions.
The Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) is one of the key partners of various municipalities in Greece in organizing the Councils of Integration of Migrants and Refugees (CIMR), as we consider their operation to be highly significant and essential. It is the only institutional body that grants us the opportunity and right to participate, even in an advisory capacity, in the decision-making process at the local level. We consider our role critical in encouraging and facilitating the participation of all members and fellow citizens who desire to be part of these Councils.
To accomplish these objectives, the GFR, since its inception, has undertaken several significant initiatives with our member communities. Most importantly for us is the organization and mobilization, as well as raising awareness and providing information to our communities regarding rights and responsibilities we share as active citizens. At the same time, we act as a communication bridge, striving to develop trust-based relationships, mutual respect and solidarity with the host society through informing and raising-awareness activities regarding migration and asylum issues. Communication and interaction with the local society constitute the primary and essential pillar for a comprehensive and effective integration strategy. Undoubtedly, integration is a two-way process and requires efforts from both newcomers and the local community.
We consider political participation and the right to vote as fundamental prerequisites for an effective and comprehensive integration. And, we are proud of having supported the participation and candidacy of our members in various elections, at local, national, and European levels in our country.
In this context, and in the view of the upcoming European Elections 2024, Greek Forum of Refugees is already involved actively, in various campaigns and organizing visits and discussions with various policymaking bodies and policy makers in both Greece and Brussels. Specifically, the members of our association’s Board of Directors, who also represent our communities, will be visiting the European Parliament and the European Commission, as well as certain networks and platforms of which our association is a part, on November 28th, 29th, and 30th. At the same time, we have planned meetings at the national level with organizations, institutions and policy makers to promote our positions and proposals.
We are grateful to the networks and organizations that have supported and continue to support us in this significant endeavor. Special thanks to the European Civic Forum (ECF) for funding and their crucial support to our advocacy efforts in this crucial time for all of us.