A few days ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the invitation of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Kotsiras, successfully hosted a conference to unveil the project “Consular Services Process Transformation”.
It is an initiative that seeks to redesign and digitize services provided by the Greek Consular Authorities worldwide, thereby enhancing their communication with Greek nationals residing abroad and providing faster and more efficient services.
Specifically, the conference showcased the Digital Request Management Service, through which a series of requests to the Consular Authorities will be partially or totally processed digitally, that is, remotely. This new digital service is currently being tested by the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will soon be fully operational across all 125 Greek Consular Authorities in 85 countries around the world.
The Conference also introduced the “Virtual Assistant” service, which has been integrated into the websites of all Greek Consular Authorities and uses artificial intelligence to provide written responses to citizens’ questions in Greek, English, and 17 other languages.
Addressing the Conference, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, George Gerapetritis, reiterated the commitment of the Greek state and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to strengthen relationships with the Greek Diaspora, which constitutes a great asset. Placing emphasis on the state’s continuous process of digitization, he made particular mention of the project’s potential to establish a Registry of Diaspora Hellenism which would not only provide easier access to services, but also give an accurate estimation of Greek Diaspora’s population size.
For his part, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giorgos Kotsiras, stated that supporting Diaspora Hellenism is a chief priority of the government, narrow the distance between Greeks abroad and their homeland. Mr. Kotsiras further higlighted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ effort to create a “cohesive policy framework,” which will lead to a National Strategy for Diaspora Hellenism within the next three years.
The project was presented in detail by the General Manager of the Directorate-General of Projects of Information Society SA, Dimitris Giantsis, the Director of Operations at the contractor company Quality & Reliability SA, Dionysios Georgopoulos, and the General Director of Diaspora Hellenism at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Chrysoula Aliferi.
Consular Services Process Transformation
The project’s aims are:
- To facilitate faster communication between the state and the citizens regarding their transactions with the Consular Authorities,
- To provide accurate and up-to-date information,
- To improve the quality of services offered by the Greek Consular Authorities to citizens abroad,
- To make available modern tools to the staff of the Consular Authorities in serving the public,
- To create of a more direct relationship between citizens/businesses and the Greek state/public administration,
- To reduce the number of people that make physical transactions at the Greek Consular Authorities and reduce of their operating costs.
Digital Request Management Service
The Digital Request Management Service is a “remote communication” system for citizens interacting with the Consular Authorities for a total of 36 application procedures. It is already being tested in practice by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will be put into operation in the near future at all 125 Greek Consular Authorities in 85 countries around the world.
This service will digitally handle, partially or fully, the application process, providing the appropriate response and the required documents to the person concerned, thus achieving better service for the citizen and faster processing of transactions with him/her, reducing the need for citizens to appear in person at the relevant Consular Authority.
Citizens will be able to access the Digital Service using their taxisnet codes or, for citizens wishing to enter as visitors, by obtaining One Time Passwords (OTP) or, alternatively, by means of passwords obtained after a one-time authentication procedure by the Consular Authority.
The Digital Request Management Service includes:
- digital submission of requests
- digital submission of the required documents
- digital verification of applications by Consular officials
- electronic payment of the fee for consular services
- production and digital delivery of the requested documents to citizens
- selection of the date of the citizen’s physical presence at the consular authority, for services that cannot be fully processed digitally
Registry of Diaspora Hellenism
Through the Digital Service, Greek expatriates will be able to register in the Registry of Diaspora Hellenism, if they wish to do so.
By storing their personal data, the Consular Authority will be able to inform citizens about activities taking place in their place of residence, as well as about current affairs in Greece.
Messaging Alert System for Greeks Abroad
The service will also feature a Messaging Alert System for Greeks Abroad for to Greek citizens abroad, in cases of natural or non-natural disasters, dangerous situations etc. Greek citizens abroad who have voluntarily declared, by registering with the Digital Service, that they wish to be notified by the system, will receive an e-mail and/or SMS with updates and instructions for their personal safety.
Among the consular services that may be provided digitally, partially or fully, are various certificates and administrative services for civil registry, census, conscription, resettlement, citizenship, passport applications as well as notarial services.
The Virtual Assistant service acts as a “digital helper” who who interacts with the citizen, answering questions in written form using artificial intelligence (AI), via the internet (Consular Authority website, Facebook Messenger or Viber). It also indicates the necessary steps for a particular procedure. The Virtual Assistant is also one of the gateways for foreign citizens to enter the new “Digital Request Management Service” of the Greek Consular Authorities.
The Virtual Assistant is already operational in all Consular Authorities (125 Greek Consular Authorities) in Greek and English, as well as in 17 other languages. Using artificial intelligence, the service provides guidance and information to citizens on standard consular services they are looking for.
The “Consular Services Process Transformation” project is funded by the “Public Sector Reform” Operational Program under the NSRF, complemented by the European Social Fund and National Resources.
Read also via Greek News Agenda: The Digital Transformation “bible” of Greece (2020-2025); Digital Transformation in Greece 2021-2022 | Found.ation Report.