Aussie Greek pride

Abalinx 27 February 2018 Peter Adamis

It has been a mere three days since the orderly demonstration by Aussie Greeks in the heart of Melbourne.  Admittedly the demonstration was quite different from the demonstrations of 1992 where the fathers of those who attended the rally recently were out in force and the whole Aussie Greek community were up in arms. Back in 1992 and 1994, it was only by the timely intervention of Jeff Kennett and his knowledge of ancient history that averted further hostilities between the camps of FYROM and those of Greece. Sundays rally lacked the lustre of a bygone era but not the passion and the drive expected of Aussie Greeks seeking to demonstrate their support to the old country.  A copy of the article may be downloaded by clicking on: AUSSIE GREEK PRIDE PASSION PERSEVERANCE & PATIENCE

Background.                        The naming issue has been embedded in the psyche of the Slavs and other ethnic groups currently living in FYROM today through a series of educational programs, symbols, false histories and cultivation of their neighbours for self-interest reasons. Turkey, Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia all claim to have rights to the geographical region known as FYROM but have been unable to wrest control of the region due to external pressures and self interest groups. Russia wishes to bring all the Slavs within its sphere of influence, the USA wants a Balkan platform to keep its intelligence gathering intact, Albania is making waves on behalf a burgeoning Albanian population in FYROM, Bulgaria has always harboured an interest due to its many Slavic connections, Turkey wants to regain its former Ottoman empire and Serbia wants a tiny piece of the pie after having lost Kosovo to international pressure.

The Melbourne Rally.        There was certainly no lack of supporters at this recent rally, nor was there a lack of speakers at the podium. What was lacking was the area and the location of the demonstration, an area that could only hold no more than 10,000 supporters who attended. Not the 5000 reported by the few agitators and those from FYROM; nor the 25,000 cited by a few who wished to swell numbers for the sake of publicity. The first rally conducted last month was ad hoc but well intended demonstration to show the flag and to give the peak bodies a wakeup call which one can say was timely.

Savvas Grigoropoulos, a well-known Aussie Greek, not afraid to take the stand was in his element.  Working as a Marshall, it pleasing to note that he was approached to speak on the issue dividing Greeks and those of FYROM over the naming rights to Macedonia. It was fortunate that one of the main News Media was able to speak to him about the contentious name issue of Macedonia.   Savvas Grigoropoulos spoke eloquently in a mature and respective manner less the passion of political expediency. What I like about his comments the most is that he spoke well of the Greek’s Northern neighbours in FYROM.  Savvas Grigoropoulos was one of Melbourne’s first Aussie Greeks to attempt entering the political arena and although his bid for parliament was not successful, he is credited with opening the doors to many others of ethnic background.

Chris Moutzikis introduced the various speakers which included Steve Dimopoulos representing the Labor Party and Murray Thompson representing the Liberal Party. Murray is married to his Aussie Greek wife Theana.    The calibre of the official speakers at the podium excellent and I was most impressed with Bishop Ezekiel, Bill Papastergiadis and Peter Jasonides.   All three spoke with the fervour of men on a mission, without the ranting or raising the blood to boil or to arouse anger but more to the point of reconciliation with their FYROMITE neighbours of the North.

The mood and attitude of the demonstrators was not only orderly, but attentive and respectful of the environment which upon monitoring the demonstration externally, showed to me that the Aussies of Greek heritage had matured, realising that there was no need for violence or any incidents of hostility or vandalism. Yes there was plenty of chanting of “Ellas” and “Macedonia is Greek” followed by bouts of the Greek National Anthem, the waving of the Australian and Greek flags, banners belonging to respective Aussie Greek clubs and organisations, music, songs, dancing.

There were also a few clad in ancient armour depicting Spartans and Macedonians (both of which are related through their Dorian ancestry). Others carried the the symbol Vergina Sun (Greek Ήλιος της Βεργίνας, also known as the “Star of Vergina”, “Macedonian Star” or “Agead Star”). This is a rayed solar symbol appearing in ancient Greek art of the period between the 6th and 2nd centuries BC was being displayed on banners and flags.

Congratulations are also in order to Peter Jasonides, Peter Kalliakoudis (Kalla), Bill Papastergiadis, Chris Moutzikis, John Paganis, Voula Saris (Enomeni Ellines), Chris Vlahogiannis (HFC Youth Group), John Lelouladas (security responsibilities) George Menidis, Andrew Ballis, John Papadimitriou (Florian Clubs).  

A special vote of thanks must go to young 13 years old Johnathan Daoulas. Johnathan using his own drone in capturing the rally was instrumental in connecting all Greeks worldwide live. See his video on YouTube at: Greek Macedonian Rally Melbourne  and the speech by Bishop Ezekiel.  I am sure that the Aussie Greek community will hear more of this young man and his skills with technology. A student of Oakleigh Grammar, I am sure that his parents, friends and school mates will be delighted with his efforts. Well done young man.

What was very pleasing to note was the youth participation and their exuberance at carrying on the traditions of the parents and grandparents of standing up for the freedoms of a bygone era. Not afraid to speak their mind, this new generation will certainly surprise those who laid the foundations for them and contribute to Australian society.

A Cooee call seeking Marshalls for the rally had gone out to the Melbourne Greek community weeks before the rally. That Cooee call was answered and did don’t go unheeded.  Many of the Marshalls were known to the wider Greek community and as such it made it easier for the people and for the Police.  All marshals were wearing yellow/orange vests to distinguish themselves from the crowd and were available for assistance.  Numerous volunteer Marshalls covered the whole spectrum of the rally guiding participants along the route and at the rally outside the Greek Consulate. Overall from an organisational point of view it was a mature, well-coordinated and organised demonstration of self-control, discipline and planning.

The message to the Greek Consulate was clear, “Don’t negotiate the name of Macedonia for the sake of expediency and political compromise”. Far too much blood had been shed to regain Northern Greece and those in power had no right to give way to the pressures of other nations. The question being asked by many is why the silence by all Greek politicians on this issue and why the lack of enthusiasm by the Greek government to publicise the event to the Diaspora. A question that may never be answered except at the Greek elections held in in Greece.

The Police, well what can one say, they were superb in the manner in which they help monitor and direct the demonstrators during their march to the Greek Consulate.  The Police were excellent with a quiet but firm manner in diplomatically requesting a group of approximately 30 Skopian (FYROM) supporters to leave. It appeared that they had arrived went with the intention of agitating the Aussie Greek rally.

Why the Australian Skopian’s from the FYROMITE community attended is beyond understanding and it will be pleasing to see that the act is not replicated by Aussie Greeks at the FROMITE (Skopian) rally to be held I early March.  It was also disappointing to see vandalism by unknown group of agitators who defaced the PanMac front offices prior to the demonstration.

On another incident, Australian Greeks driving to work were sad, disappointed and visibly upset to see banners hung over highways denigrating Greeks. It was deliberate act of inflaming the passions of the Greeks who feel offended by such silly and immature acts of indecency.

On the other side of the world, in FYROM itself, work has already begun in the removal of symbols and signs that depict Alexander the Great as being related to those living in FYROM today.  It would appear that those in Skopje (FYROM) have taken a responsible attitude to the past and are removing edifices, symbols, names and other significant cultural works that tie Alexander the Great with FYROM. 

One hopes that such attempts are seen by the Greek government as serious attempts by FYROM to distance its self from the wrong doing of past regimes. The world has matured over the years and are not so easily fooled by the attempts to steal the culture of another nation by the use of symbols and false education of their youth.

One reflection, one can only hope that both nations can come to the negotiation table and work out their differences of opinion for the sake of stability, economic and security self-interests. If they can do it then so can the fervour amongst Slavs and Greeks subside once and for all! After all are they not of the same faith.

Peter Adamis is a Journalist/Social Media Commentator and writer. A retired Australian military serviceman and an Industry organisational & Occupational (OHS) & Training Consultant whose interests are within the parameters of domestic and international political spectrum.  An avid blogger and contributes to domestic and international community news media outlets as well as to local and Ethnic News.  He holds a Bachelor   of Adult Learning & Development (Monash), Grad Dip Occupational Health & Safety, (Monash), and Dip. Training & Assessment, Dip Public Administration, and Dip Frontline Management. Website: Contact via Email: [email protected] or via Mobile: 0481 342 791


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