The pending visit of Terence Spencer Nicholas Quick, Greece’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Melbourne on 26th March for the Greek Independence Day celebrations, has caused dismay to the vast majority of the Greek community.
Many of its tertiary Organisations have sided with the Pan Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, in its condemnation of the afore mentioned visit and its calls to protest against his presence by abstaining from any event Mr Quick is present at, for the duration of his presence.
In a Press Release sent on the 3rd March 2019, Mr Andrew Ballis, president of the Pan Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, states that:
“The endless struggle, for many decades now, of the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria to preserve the cultural heritage of the fortress of Macedonian Hellenism from antiquity to the present, has recently attracted an irreconcilable and unexpected enemy, the Greek government itself.
The treacherous Prespes Accord, either as a result of a critically latent appraisal or deliberately anti-national policy, rightly infuriated the overwhelming majority of all Hellenism, whose strong and clear opposition was never taken into account by the present Greek Government.”
Mr Ballis continues by substantiating the claim of the current Greek Government’s “treacherous” acts, by citing examples of the violent repression of any form of protest against the Prespa Accord, claiming that the Tsipras Government acts undemocratically.
He goes on to mention a meeting held at the Association’s headquarters on 14th February which was attended by representatives of the following Organisations:
•The Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria
•Pontian Community of Melbourne and Victoria
•Eptanisian Federation of Melbourne
•Holy Archdiocese of Australia
•Australian Greek Ex Servicemen’s Association of Victoria
•Federation of Thessalian Associations
•Organising Committee of 25th March celebrations
•Association of Greek Elderly Citizen Clubs of Melbourne & Victoria
The meeting was also attended by the following former presidents of the Association:
Mr Korosidis Spiros,
Mr Panagiotidis Alekos,
Mr Karamzalis George,
Mr Katsakis Nick and
Mr Minas Dimitris
All of the above accepted unanimously the motion put forward by the Pan Macedonian Association, i.e. to condemn Mr Quick’s visit and to declare their willingness to leave any venue he attends, for the duration of his presence.
The Press Release makes it apparent that the same sentiments and actions apply to any visiting member of the Greek parliament who supports the Prespa Accord.
The Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria withdraws its initial support
After the Pan Macedonian Association’s Press Release was made public, Mr Spiros Papadopoulos, the GCMV’s representative at the above mentioned meeting, sent a letter to Neos Kosmos, published on Saturday 9th March 2018, in which he states that he was present at the meeting as “an observer”, he “never took part in any voting of any motion during that meeting” and that “the statements mentioned in Mr Ballis’ letter do not express our Organisation’s views”.
The Pan Macedonian Association’s immediate response
Mr Andrew Ballis, offering his Association’s version of events, responded immediately with a new Press Release on the position expressed by Mr Papadopoulos .
He claims that Mr Papadopoulos never stated he was an observer and that “no observers were invited to this meeting”.
He adds that when the motion was forwarded participants were asked to express their opinions and any objections they might have.
“No one expressed any objections and no one made a counter motion”, he explains. “Mr Papadopoulos could have made it clear that the Organisation he represented was against this motion or that he was present only as an observer. He did not.” , he adds.
“Papastergiadis was given a copy of the Press Release days before it went public”
What is more puzzling is however, Mr Ballis’ claim that the president of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Mr Bill Papastergiadis, “was given a copy of this Press Release” days before it was circulated, and was asked to confirm his Organisation’s approval of its contents.
“Unfortunately he never made any statements. Mr Papastergiadis asked me to withdraw his Organisation’s name from the Press Release after it was made public. We asked him to make a written statement. He didn’t do it”, he explains.
Mr Ballis expressed his astonishment as Mr Papastergiadis had stated in a meeting, prior to the 2018 rally against the Greek Government, that “the Greek Community is with you”, implying that the Greek Community agrees with the Pan Macedonian Association’s views on the treachery committed by the Greek Government.
Mr Ballis mentions the latest provocations, stemming from the Prespa Accord, in relation to calls for recognition of a “Macedonian minority” within Greece, the calls for the use of the “Macedonian language” in Macedonian churches and the teaching of the “Macedonian” language in Schools of Macedonia.
“Surely, the Greek Community of Melbourne has every right to accept all of the above. We believe, however, that its members and the broader Greek Community, have every right to be made aware of its position”, he states.
He then calls upon the GCMV president to inform our community of his Organisation’s stance on this “vital national issue”.
He concludes his statement as follows:
“The Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria has served, for many decades now, the interests of Macedonian Hellenism. Surely we are not to be hindered by individual divisive movements. Our Macedonia would not allow us to do so.”
- The Pan Macedonian Association’s Press Release can be read in full on page 18 in TA NEA newspaper
The President of GOCMV’S Response:
Just prior to our newspaper’s print run, we received the following statement by the President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Mr Bill Papastergiadis, in relation to the recent Pan Macedonian Association’s Press Release:
“The GOCMV has played a pivotal role and has been supportive of the cause for a long period of time including arranging the permits for the rally last year and providing a stall for PanMac at the festival free of charge and consulting on Nostos event. Save for a concern about using the label “unwelcomed”, its position has been clear and supportive of PanMac.”