The process for expelling the Hellenic Red Cross (HRC) from the organization’s international federation has begun and will be completed within a year, the head of the National Council for Public Health and General Secretary for Public Health Yiannis Baskozos said on Thursday, in statements.
Baskozos said that the health ministry was doing everything possible to save the Greek chapter and ensure that it can continue to perform its humanitarian work. In order for this to happen, however, the management of the HRC had to complete specific changes demanded by the international Red Cross and Red Crescent federation (IFRC), he noted, adding that the local chapter’s elected board “bears sole responsibility” for ensuring that this happens.
“From the first moment that the current government and political leadership at the health ministry took over, we were faced with the threat that the HRC will be expelled from the international federation,” he said, adding that this was due to at least 20 years of mismanagement under previous administrations.
Among the problems laid at the HRC’s door, he said, were a failure to meet its financial obligations, undemocratic operation and failing to do carry out its humanitarian tasks as defined by the rules of the IFRC, Baskozos said.
The government had persuaded the international federation to give the HRC another six months to fix these issues before proceeding with a decision to suspend and ultimately expel the Greek chapter but the new board that emerged following an election on June 3 had failed to meet at least one of the commitments the chapter had made, he added.
“We will do what we can but on one condition: that the commitments made are implemented. There is no excuse for either delay or for neglecting obligations,” the ministry general secretary said, noting that the main changes that must be made include the introduction a new and democratic charter that opened up the HRC’s membership and gave volunteers and others the right to vote so that its management was not elected by just 200 people.
In an announcement on Thursday, however, the HRC’s management claimed to be completely unaware of the launch of expulsion proceedings by the IFRC, as reported in the press.
“So far, we have not been notified of any such decision,” an HRC press release said, while it outlined the steps taken to date to comply with the federation’s requirements since the elections on June 3. According to this, a committee set up to draw up a new charter had completed its work (on September 13) and presented this to the board, which will convene on Thursday afternoon, while copies have been sent to the international federation and health ministry.
According to the announcement, the new charter must now be approved by the HRC general assembly on November 4 and then be ratified by a first-instance court. When the above process is complete, the registration of new members can begin and elections will be held within 20 days, it added.