The ongoing dispute between the Greek Australian community and certain groups of FYROM-Australians is about to reach its peak, as the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies (AIMS) is about to file a lawsuit against the organisers of the anti-Greek rally that took place last Sunday.
According to the AIMS, the organisers of the rally, are responsible for instigating nationalist and racial hatred against the Hellenism of Asia Minor; nurturing hatred and insults towards Greeks and their national symbols, including the Greek flag; defamation of Greece, Macedonia, its history and culture and slander against Greeks. In the announcement the AIMS accuses the “Slavomacedonian” (as they are mentioned in the statement) rally organisers of extreme irredentism; the defamation of Hellenism; insulting the Greek national symbols, and for cultivating hatred against Greek people while abusing the rights granted to them within the context of Australian multiculturalism.
“Overcome by racial and national hatred against Greeks, the organisers of the rally derailed their protest far from any moral or political basis and resorted to insults and defamation of the Greek people in general, as well as anyone related to or descending from Greece. Using banners and mottos, carnival-style dress up in which they presented themselves as Ancient Macedonians, they pretended to be victims of ‘Turkish-spawn’ Greeks (despite holding Turkish flags to appease their so-called protectors), they bore the symbols of Ancient Macedonia, in violation of the international agreements and the interim agreement that their governments signed and lodged to the UN, which clearly stated that they will not use the Ancient Macedonian Kingdom symbol of the Sun,” stated the chairperson of AIMS, Professor Anastasios Tamis.
“With their banners and mottos they attempted, once again, to transform and rewrite the history of the Balkans, they systematically attempted to inflict character assassination against Greek citizens, Greek people, the common Greek folk which they referred to as blood-thirsty murderers of the ‘Macedonian’ people (as said FYROM nationals called themselves at the rally), as worthless Turkish-spawn refugees which were brought to Macedonia due to the Treaty of Lausanne, by a stroke of bad luck that resulted to the refugees stealing their lands. They proceeded to blatantly deface our national symbols, burning the Greek flag, despite the fact that Greek businesses at Skopje and Bitola (Monastiri) account for 60 per cent of their country’s GDP. They were holding portraits of King Philip and Alexander the Great in a motion of appropriation of the history of Ancient Macedonia, and support the claim that these Slavs who came to the region a thousand years later, have magically become the heirs of Philip and Alexander,” the statement continues.
“With these actions they only prove their immaturity to live in a multicultural environment such as the Australian one, they’re presenting themselves as not ready to accept living along with other ethnic groups and they nurture racial hatred and hatred against Greeks. The vast majority of these hateful protesters were not from ‘Macedonoslavia’, but they were former Greek citizens who had been using the Greek passport for years, and, having Bulgaro-Slavian national identity instilled into the souls of their children this hatred that stems from Greek Civil War, when many of them, or their parents, were forced to leave Macedonia, defeated. There should be no place for this kind of dispersion of hatred and defamation of other nations, in a multicultural, tolerant country, like Australia.
(FYROM-Australian protesters, burning Greek flags in front of Parliament House, while marching under the motto “we are Macedonians Standing in Defence of Macedonia” through Melbourne’s CBD, on Sunday, March 4, 2018)
“Unfortunately, the ‘Macedonoslavs’ of Australia were unlucky to be deprived of sensible leadership, that instead of cultivating hatred, would promote fraternity in the Balcans, on the basis of the common religion, of the similarity of the dances and music, the contribution of Greeks to their language, the common struggles to coexist in the region and of course, the fact that Greek businesses in ‘Macedonoslavia’ offer a living to tens of thousands of their brothers and that a million of ‘Macedonoslavs’ enjoy the hospitality of Macedonian Greeks in Halkidiki and Katerini every summer. Unfortunately, these ‘Macedonoslav’ leaders have not still woken up from the nightmare of civil war that they have experienced, along with countless Greeks,” reads the AIMS statement.
The Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria also issued a statement condemning the incidents that took place at the FYROM-Australians protest rally last Sunday, particularly the burning of the Greek flags.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Pontian Associations of Australia (FPAA) published yet another statement in condemnation of their members being insulted, along with other Greeks, during the protests of the FYROM-Australian communities in Sydney, Melbourne and other Australian cities.
“Bearing banners stating that Greek and Pontians should be ousted of Macedonia, that Pontian refugees are not Macedonians and other of the same sort, the protesters took to the streets of Australia to promote extremist messages of hatred. Burning and desecrating the Greek flag is a calculated insult, aiming to provoke a response. As the descendants of genocide survivors, the Federation members condemn the abuse of freedom reserved for all Australian citizens, in order to attack a specific group of people on grounds of their identity. Pontians come from the south east coasts of the Black sea, they are the descendants of Greeks who colonised these regions 25 centuries ago. From 1914 to 1924, our ancestors were submitted to genocidal persecution by the Turkish state.”
“Survivors found refuge in Greece, in Australia and other places, restoring their livelihood and communities. Many among us were born and raised in Macedonia and many others were born in Australia. We are Australians of Pontian-Macedonian descent. Since the 1950s, many Pontian Greeks have made Australia their second home. Many migrated from Macedonian cities and villages, where their parents and grandparents had set up their second homes. We, as Australians living in a multicultural society, condemn racism in all its form”, reads the FPAA statement.
Bearing banners that read “Macedonia’s name is not for sale”, “End Macedonian Genocide”, “F— Greeks” and “Pontians get out of Macedonia”, FYROM-Australians chanted their national anthem and other slogans. In Melbourne, the protesters burned Greek flags in front of the Parliament of Victoria, causing the immediate intervention of the Police.
At the same time, the ABC was reporting that Greeks had been writing anti-FYROM slogans on the walls of churches and community buildings related to FYROM, while days before anti-Greek slogans appeared in Greek buildings and other locations in Melbourne.
All this, during the discussions between Greece and FYROM in an attempt to find a compromise on the latter’s official name. The country’s PM, Zoran Zaev rejected Greece’s demand to change the constitution, stating that any change in the legal system does not offer guarantees for Greece. Instead he proposed that signing an international agreement would be a far safer and viable option.
“Any change in the constitution can be changed back,” Zaev said and mentioned that “FYROM could ask the same from Greece, to clarify how the country makes provisions of Greeks living abroad,” so that both countries have the same policy.
He then stated that “the issue of irredentism has been cleared once and for all, with the renaming of FYROM’s international airport of Skopje and the national highway linking FYROM with Serbia and Greece”.