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Bulgaria vetoes FYROM’s EU accession talks

Bulgaria has joined Greece in vetoing the opening of EU accession talks with the FYROM, despite a positive recommendation by the European Commission. Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev told EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle on Wednesday (31 October) that the FYROM is “not ready” to start accession negotiations.

Füle visited Bulgaria in a bid to clarify the government’s position with respect to the FYROM. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has accused Skopje of stealing from Bulgaria’s history and badmouthing his country.

But Füle got more than explanations and was told that Bulgaria doesn’t see the FYROM as ready to begin accession negotiations. Füle had invested a lot of his political ambition in trying to unblock the stalemate between Skopje and Athens in the name dispute, which is no other than Skopje’s false claims of a “Macedonian” nation, identity and language.

The country’s internationally recognized name is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but Skopje would prefer to be called simply “Macedonia”, which is also the name of a northern Greek province.

On 10 October, Füle proposed a compromise whereby negotiations would start before a resolution of the name dispute is found. It was the fourth time that the Commission has recommended the start of accession negotiations with the FYROM. Each time the efforts were blocked by Greece, for obvious reasons.

But this time it appears that some momentum has been introduced by Athens for signing a bilateral memorandum, in which both sides would commit to respecting the others national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and renounce any territorial claims.

Carefully prepared statements
The situation looks different today. Plevneliev told Füle in a carefully prepared statement that before expecting any good news from Brussels, Skopje would first have to improve its relations with Bulgaria.

“The authorities in Skopje will unlock their EU perspective not through propaganda and marketing campaigns but through actual reforms and actions for good-neighborly relations,” Plevneliev was quoted as saying by the website Novinite.

The Bulgarian president pointed out that Sofia does not deny an EU perspective to the FYROM, and in fact supports that, but takes into account the fact that the former Yugoslav republic is not ready to start talks for EU membership.

“Bulgaria cannot grant an EU certificate to the actions of the government in Skopje which is systematically employing an ideology of hate towards Bulgaria,” Plevneliev stated.

“It is strategically important for the long-term stability in the Balkans that the government in Skopje starts applying the European approach towards its neighbours, without claims and manipulations. It is high time that the government in Skopje be done with its anti-Bulgarian campaign, and the manipulation of historical facts. The responsible European approach towards one’s neighbours and the next generation is to preserve history whatever it might be,” Plevneliev added.

Füle reportedly disagreed with Plevneliev, and argued that the FYROM has been waiting for too long for membership in NATO, which Greece has also blocked, and the EU.

“I am one of those people who believe that it is not good to leave our partners waiting before the door for too long. I believe that integration is the best means for coping with nationalism, and I am convinced that isolation boosts nationalism,” Füle was quoted as saying.

Commission cites of EU values
A diplomatically worded Commission communiqué states that Füle understands Bulgaria’s concerns, but urges both countries to solve any open issues in a neighborly spirit.

“I welcome the fact that presidents have exchanged letters, and that Ministers Mladenov and Poposki are contributing to improving relations between the two countries. I am confident that through constructive dialogue and common understanding real progress can be achieved,” the Commission statement said. Nickolay Mladenov is foreign minister of Bulgaria and Nikola Poposki is his Macedonian counterpart.

But precisely this exchange of letters has added fuel to the fire.

Plevneliev had proposed that Bulgaria and the FYROM jointly celebrate certain historical dates and avoid a nationalist reading of history. One such date is Ilinden, which commemorates an uprising on 2 August 1903 that freed the Bulgarians in Thrace and the territory which is nowadays the FYROM from Ottoman rule. The former Yugoslav Republic has a different reading of the events and denies the role of Bulgaria in liberating its present territory.

Much to the disappointment of Bulgarian authorities, Skopjan President Gjorge Ivanov responded to Plevneliev, pretending he didn’t understand the purpose of the proposal. The Skopje government led website MINA reported that Ivanov gave Plevneliev three dates which the FYROM would consider celebrating jointly with Bulgaria: Europe Day; the day Bulgaria recognized the FYROM as “Macedonia” and the day Bulgaria and the FYROM established diplomatic relations.

This was seen in Sofia as an offense with Mladenov and Borissov reportedly making statements to the EU commissioner confirming Bulgaria’s determination.

These developments took place amid threats by the EU executive to publish an extraordinary monitoring report on Bulgaria’s ailing judicial system, which may have encouraged Sofia to hit back at the Commission at a time when Füle was seeking mediation over the FYROM.

Nationalism rife in both Sofia and Skopje
Borissov’s populist stance is widely shared, with the opposition Socialist Party signalling that it shares the government’s position on the FYROM.

In Skopje, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the leader of the nationalist VMRO-DPNE party, appears as the main instigator of tensions with its neighbours. Gruevski’s government has financed statues and arches promoting Skopjan nationalism and has renamed the airport and for Alexander the Great, a Greek historical figure now claimed by FYROM slavs.

MacedoniaHellenicLand.Eu
with information by euractiv.com

Press statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the meeting with Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikolay Mladenov in Sofia
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-825_en.htm?locale=en

Source: MacedoniaHellenicLand

Nikolay Mladenov: Bulgaria’s support for the FYROM depends on meeting the EU criteria

Nikolay Mladenov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated in an interview for Radio FOCUS that Bulgaria in the past 20 years absolutely clearly, continuous and diligently has helped the FYROM to build its independence and walk its way to the European Union. He added that, unfortunately, in recent years there has been enhancing the anti-Bulgarian rhetoric and demands on behalf of the FYROM what divides the two countries.He also said that this is the reason why Bulgaria sent a clear and unequivocal message that their support will henceforth depend entirely on the way in which in the coming weeks and months the FYROM government will show that it is ready to develop good neighborly relations with Bulgaria, doing it based on European values and not digging in the past where to find false excuses for the situation today.

Source: MacedoniaHellenicLand

Letter from the World Pan-Macedonian Associations to the European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fule

Panmacedonian banner
WORLD PAN-MACEDONIAN ASSOCIATIONS
Communication:
Nina Gatzoulis
Coordinator of the Committee
of World Pan-Macedonian Associations
October 27, 2012
Mr. Štefan Füle
European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy
200, Rue de la Loi
B – 1049 Brussels
BELGIUM

Dear Mr. Commissioner:
As you are aware, the European Commission has recently published its annual Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and its process towards eventual accession to the European Union [1]. The Report (dated October 10, 2012) outlines key aspects that the European Commission considers important in the FYROM’s progress towards EU integration and concludes with the Commission’s recommendation for immediate accession negotiations to begin between Brussels and Skopje.

As representatives of 3.5 million worldwide Macedonians (Greeks originating from Macedonia, Greece) and citizens of EU member-state Greece, we are highlighting our profound concern with certain – extremely significant – aspects of this Progress Report. We would like therefore to submit a series of observations and call for your prompt attention and response: With respect to the Commission’s members and their opinions, we question the use of the adjective “Macedonian” to describe the government and institutions of the FYROM ([1], pages 7 and 16). The Commission is fully aware of the ongoing negotiations between Greece and the FYROM under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) with the goal of a mutually accepted name erga omnes for the FYROM. This is based on the mutually accepted 1995 Interim Accord between Athens and Skopje [2]. The Interim Accord does not outline what adjectives should be used to describe the people, language, and the institutions of the FYROM however the UN adopted a neutral stance, taking into account its ethnic and linguistic composition. In fact, the UN and its negotiations mediator Matthew Nimetz do not define the ethnicity and institutions of the FYROM, opting instead for the “people of the FYROM,” or the “government of the FYROM” until the final and mutually accepted name for the country. Nationality and national institutions are based on the name of a country as the UN and/or the EU recognize it. As of this writing, the accepted name for Greece’s neighbor by the UN and the EU and its subsidiary institutions is the FYROM and not simply “Macedonia.”

In addition to this, more that 35% of FYROM’s inhabitants do not describe themselves as so-called “ethnic Macedonians.” Furthermore, the real percentage of “non-ethnic Macedonians” in that country is likely larger because the government in Skopje uses questionable statistical methods for its censuses. On the other hand, we are Macedonian, we number 3.5 million, our ancestors have been using the term Macedonian for millennia, and our cultural and historic spheres and references are Greek. As a result, we perceive the Commission’s arbitrary use of the term “Macedonian” in reference to FYROM as an assault against our cultural identity and against our self-determination as Macedonians, as it can be the cause of disturbing confusion and, thus of perennial conflict between Athens and Skopje. Now, more than ever it is necessary that a sharp and clear distinction is made between Macedonia and the so-called FYROM in order to avoid further complications in the already strained relations between the two countries and their peoples.

In recent reports and documents, the European Union has indeed endeavored to maintain an overall neutral stance, by refraining to use the term “Macedonian” in reference to FYROM until a final and mutually accepted name is reached between Athens and Skopje. We believe that this policy of responsible neutrality should be actively maintained, should the EU wish to continue to play a constructive role in the resolution of the contentieux between member-state Greece and candidate-state FYROM. We, as EU citizens, expect the European Commission to act in bona fide and refrain from bypassing indirectly the EU-recognized name FYROM and its corresponding derivatives (namely, “of the FYROM”).

Furthermore, the Commission’s recommendation for parallel tracks for EU accession and negotiations with Greece is actually counterproductive to the negotiation process as it relieves Skopje of its obligations in the matter. Undoubtedly, the government in Skopje is promoting the terms “Macedonia(n)” in a unilateral manner on international fora, undermining the success of the ongoing UN-sponsored negotiation process and endangering the peaceful coexistence of the peoples in Southern Europe. This is one of the reasons why NATO urges a solution with Greece before extending membership to the FYROM.

Putting aside the non-implementation of the 2001 Ohrid Agreement, the inter-ethnic strife between the Albanian and the Slavic communities of the FYROM, and the widespread and increasing government control of the media, the FYROM still has serious problems with two neighboring EU states: Greece and Bulgaria. Specifically, the governments and institutions of non-EU members should refrain from using nationalistic rhetoric towards their neighbours. We feel that by considering the concerns of EU members, the Commission will espouse neutrality. Yet, the Commission mentions that the FYROM has “maintained an overall constructive role,” and is “participating actively in regional cooperation” with its neighbours ([1], page 19).

In regards to relations with Bulgaria, the Commission defines the tension between the two governments as “misunderstandings,” stemming from perceptual differences. However, the Commission is fully aware of the Bulgarian government’s recent strong statement with respect to the usurpation and distortion of its history and cultural heritage [3].

With respect to Greece, the Commission is also aware of the irredentist themes that the FYROM continues to condone and promote to its people regarding its proper place in history and geography in the Balkan Peninsula. Notions of a “United Macedonia” encompassing neighboring territories are widespread in official government circles, the education system, and among popular culture [4]. A campaign of revisionist history and aggressive territorial irredentism, where self-perceived historical wrongs against the people of the FYROM by Greeks is fully present in the mainstream media, even if this has its roots in ultra-nationalist groups within and outside of the FYROM [5-8]. This past month, you even fell victim to a lie perpetrated by the FYROM’s Press [9, 10].

Finally, and with all of the above in mind, we question the Commission’s conclusion that the FYROM is mature enough and ready for High Level EU Accession Dialogue, when the majority of the report mentions “no” or “very little” to “little” or “some” progress on many key accession elements including: public administration, reforms in the judicial system, human rights including minority and cultural rights, the penal system and prevention of torture, freedom of expression, anti-discrimination policies, social and economic rights, the economy and public internal financial control, common market organization, rural development, regional policy and structural instruments, cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking, innovative and scientific research, education, industrial pollution and water quality, and EU standards in commercial or development policy and humanitarian aid.

The vast majority of our members are EU citizens and we feel it is necessary to outline our concerns regarding premature EU expansion. As Macedonians we trust that the European Commission will understand the sensitivity that we – and all Greeks – have on the topic of our cultural and historical identity. We remain at your disposal for any questions or concerns that may arise.

Sincerely,
Pan-Macedonian Association USA- Kostas Hatzistefanidis, Supreme President
Pan-Macedonian Association Australia – Dimitris Minas, President
Pan-Macedonian Association Canada – Executive Committee
Pan-Macedonian Association Europe – Archimandrite Panteleimon Tsorbatzoglou, President
Pan-Macedonian Associations of Africa – Amyntas Papathanasiou, President

THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF MACEDONIAN ORGANIZATIONS
Nina Gatzoulis, Coordinator (Representing over 150 Macedonian Organizations)
Philoptohos Brotherhood of Men of Thessaloniki – Theodore Dardavesis, President
E.A.S. SEGAS of Thessaloniki – Demitrios Gakis, President
Association of Pisoderites the World Over “Saint Trinity”- Michael Liakos, President
Thracian Hearth of Thessaloniki-Benjamin Karakostanoglou, President
Federation of Western Macedonian Associations of Thessaloniki-George Tzoulis-President
“Omada 21” (Team 21) Macedonia – Thrace – Antonios Daskopoulos, President
ASSOCIATIONS BELONGING TO MACEDONIANS’ “COMMON”
Florina Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters
Amyntaio Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters
Florina Educational Team “Aristotle”
Cultural Chapter of Sitaria Florina
Cultural Chapter “New Horizons” Sitaria, Florina
Cultural Chapter “Alexander the Great” of Polyplatanos, Florina
Alexander the Great Chapter of Ethniko-Kratero-Agia Paraskevi
Carrier of history and Culture “Iera Drys” of Kella, Florina
Cultural-Educational Chapter “Amyntas” of Skopia, Florina
Connection of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture
Cultural Chapter of Kozani “The Macedonians”
Association of Edessa’s citizens “Ion Dragoumis”
Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants of Edessa and Almopia
Folklore Society of Pella Prefecture
Association of Edessa’s Friends of Antiquities “The Timenides”
Cultural Association “Edessa’s Book Friends”
Association of “Macedonian Cultural Home” of Aridaia
Association of “Friends of Macedonian Cultural Tradition” of Almopia
Educational Association of Ida Eksaplatanos “Ion Dragoumis”
Historical and Folklore Society of Giannitsa “Filippos”
Macedonian Dance and Cultural Association “Amyntas” of Kalyvia
Educational and Environmental Club of Pella “Ancient Pella”
Cultural Association of Kato Grammatiko “Patriarchis Xrysanthos”
Community of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture
Educational Association of Florina “Aristotle”
Cultural Association of Ethniko-Kratero- Agia Paraskevi of Florina “Alexander the Great”.
Cultural Association “Elpida Melitis”of Florina.
Pan- Hellenic Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants “Pavlos Mellas”
Pan-Hellenic Cultural Society “Makednos” Thessaloniki
Cultural and Educational Society in Arnaia-Chalkidiki
Macedonian Artistic Society of Kilkis “Art”
Society for Study and Research of the History of Serres
Youth Educational Chapter of Arnissa
Educational-Cultural Chapter Lefkadion “St. Paraskevi”
Chapter of Startsovites & Friends “St. Minas” New Petritsi – Serres
Association of people from Monastiri (Bitola) of Thessaloniki “Karteria”
Macedonian & Thracian Association of Papagou and Holargou –Athens
Association of Women from Thessaloniki-Macedonia in Athens
Pan-Macedonian Confederation in Athens
Federation of Western Macedonian Associations in the Prefecture of Attica
Confederation of Macedonians in the area of Attica
Association “Alexander Filippou Greek Macedon”
Cultural Association of Kozani “Oi Makednoi”
Macedonian Association of Volos
Cultural Association Grivas-Kilkis
Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa
Youth Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa
Florinian Chapter in Thessaloniki
Friends of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, Prefecture of Kastoria

References:
1.Commission Staff Working Document 2012 Progress Report for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2012/package/mk_rapport_2012_en.pdf. Accessed October 22, 2012.

2.Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 1995 Interim Accord http://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%201891/v1891.pdf pp3-10. Accessed October 23, 2012.

3.Novinite Sofia News Agency. August 9, 2012. “Bulgarian Govt Reacts Strongly to Macedonia’s [sic] Hate Speech”. http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=142174. Accessed October 23, 2012

4.Templar, Marcus A. Skopje’s NATO Adventures: A Conversation on Insanity and Megalomania. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Bribing its Way to Membership. 2012. pp55-64. http://www.panmacedonian.info/images/stories/pdf/skopjes_nato_adventures.pdf. Accessed October 23, 2012.

5.“MTV news editor Petrevski apologizes for Samardziev fiasco”. http://taxalia.blogspot.ca/2012/10/blog-post_5188.html?m=1. Accessed October 23, 2012.

6.Večer. November 10, 2011. No. 14827. “Ever since they have been writing about God, Macedonians have suffered because of Greeks”. http://www.vecer.com.mk/?ItemID=6595193E837BD64980CA0C6755DF0B14. Accessed October 23, 2012.

7.Večer. October 3, 2012. No. 15105. “Raped Macedonians [sic], Killed Macedonians [sic]”. http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?anno=2&depth=1&hl=en&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=mk&tl=en&u=http://vecer.com.mk/%3FItemID%3D1092E66FBFD8E243BF88E3EBD46012A2&usg=ALkJrhhFXXYlmRarflEEkrNJVQD__WRHxw. Accessed October 23, 2102.

8.“Večer strikes again with the doctored photograph”. http://history-of-macedonia.com/2012/10/05/vecer-parapoihmeni-fotografia/. Accessed October 23, 2012.

9.“Štefan Füle concerned about alleged incident in Thessaloniki”. http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2012/10/stefan-fule.html. Accessed October 23, 2012.

10.Skopje Diem. October 4, 2012. “MEP Koumoutsakos criticizes Füle about Samardziev case”. http://www.skopjediem.com/-latest-news/15542-mep-koumoutsakos-criticises-fule-over-tweet-about-samardziev-case.html. Accessed October 23, 2012.

Cc Euro-Parliamentarians

Source: history-of-Macedonia

Conference to discuss Greece, Balkan Wars, liberation of Macedonia

Distinguished historians from the U.S., Canada and Greece will present the lecture “Greece and the Balkan Wars: 100 Years from the Liberation of Macedonia”

Greek troops of the balkan wars Conference to discuss Greece, Balkan Wars, liberation of MacedoniaDistinguished historians from the U.S., Canada and Greece will present the lecture “Greece and the Balkan Wars: 100 Years from the Liberation of Macedonia” from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 in Century Room A at the Millennium Student Center at UMSL.

On Oct. 26, 1912, the Greek Army entered Salonica, sealing the liberation of a large part of Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire. That was a catalytic event for the Balkan Wars and changed the course of European history.

The significance of that historic event will be discussed at a conference from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Distinguished historians from the U.S., Canada and Greece will come together for the conference “Greece and the Balkan Wars: 100 Years from the Liberation of Macedonia,” which will be held in Century Room A at the Millennium Student Center at UMSL.

Immediately following the conference there will be an hors d’ oeuvres reception, from 5 to 6 p.m. Both the conference and the reception are free and open to the public.

The speakers will discuss important issues of the Balkan Wars, such as the role that the army and the navy played in the wars, violence and ethnic cleansing, war and propaganda, as well as the Greeks from the diaspora who returned to fight in the wars.

The conference is organized by UMSL professor Michael Cosmopoulos, the Hellenic Government-Karakas Family Foundation Professorship in Greek Studies at UMSL and International Studies and Programs at UMSL.

For a complete schedule, full list of featured speakers and more information, visit greekstudies.org.

Greek version of press release (PDF)

Source: http://blogs.umsl.edu/news/2012/10/21/conference-greece/

Source: history-of-Macedonia

A Country Called Loony Bin

Upon the 100th Anniversary of the Liberation of Macedonia from the Ottomans, a certain disturbed individual from the area of Florina, Macedonia, Greece imagined that his cousin from the same region was beaten up to death by members of the Golden Dawn. Although nobody in Greece knew anything about the alleged “incident,” including the FYROM’s Liaison Office, the FYROM Press widely publicized the alleged savagery competing on who would dramatize the condition of Mr. Samartzis (whose name changed to Samardjiev to suit Skopje’s allegations about a “Macedonian” minority in Greece) developed to the point of his imaginary death. Even the FYROM government spokesperson in a serious demeanor demanded explanations and action from the Greek government, contributing to the FYROM Press frenzy.

Mr. Todor Petrov, President for Life of the World “Macedonian” Congress stated that the FYROM should go to war against Greece! The man who suffers from ethnic identity crisis – he enjoys being photographed before the Bulgarian Lion and the Greek Sun of Vergina on a red background – imagines himself as Napoleon the Lesser. Does he think the alleged victim is Archduke Ferdinand?

They have been raised as communists to act as agitators for their cause, as imaginary that is, led by a sorry historian who reminds the world of Goebbels and directs the national ethnocentrism turning the citizens of the FYROM into a nation of bi-dimensional cartoon characters lacking depth.

FYROM’s behavior hides insecurity and inadequacy of their Slavic domain in which aggressive behavior is the only way out. They need to feel that their country is the center of the universe and because of it, God has created them before He created the human race. Simultaneously, they need enemies in order to coil behind a demagoguing and self-serving political elite. In the absence of such enemies, they create imaginary ones, even if these are products of hallucination of obviously mentally disturbed individuals.

In the past, in their effort to prevail and attract attention, the Skopjans have sought, unfortunately for them, losers as proxies and projected themselves as a nation of wretched victims. Instead of educating their people to be proud for what they are, i.e. Slavs – per Misirkov – the FYROM political elite prefer the trickery of their ancestral god Veles or Volos to the point that the world sees them as clowns. The government of Skopje has ridiculed the same people it spends money to educate as being the salt of the earth, inducing laughter, and coulrophobia. –

EU’s Štefan Fule’s behavior was disappointing. He unquestionably sided with those whose ideology is identical to the butchers’ of the Lidice Massacre. The so-called “Macedonian” Prayer, along with the transformation of Skopje into a Luna Park should have been his red flag. If Mr. Fulle wants to be taken seriously perhaps he should consider leaving the loony bin called Skopje. Mr. Fulle should know better.

To those who consider my thoughts as an exaggeration, I am offering a prayer that was published in the bi-annual publication Svoboda ili Smŭrt” [Liberty or Death], a pro-Bulgarian instrument of the VMRO and the Patriotic “Macedonian” Organization from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This specific issue is dated July-December 1978. The prayer’s author was a certain Boris H. P. I am offering the text unedited and as published.

Oh Lord! From the time man was created, God said, “We should be called Macedonians, and the land – the state in which we live in Macedonia. Your wish and order was, that we should always be first, in our human maturity, and that Lord, from beginning until now we did not realize how much of Macedonian blood will be shed in Macedonia and the world from yours and our enemies.

Oh Lord! Everyone prevented and destroyed us from doing these things. Some tried to persuade us to be Greek, others as Bulgarian or Serbian and finally Russia (S. S. S. R) and Yugoslavians tried to persuade us as Slavs. Now Lord, what is Your last word and Command?

“My last word and command for all states and nationalities in the world is to give everything to their Macedonian brothers to be Macedonian, united and free, and should never exist anymore as a land of tears nor as a grave without a cross, should anymore of My blood be shed. If this is not fulfilled, My command is for the world to be recreated into land on tears and sighs, and graves-freedom to Macedonians and Macedonia or death to the world.” From all secret Macedonians and God’s powers.

I hope Mr. Fulle reads this.

Source: history-of-Macedonia

Greek Australian associations unite to help Greece’s children

A series of fundraisers for orphans and needy children in Greece organized by members of the Greek community

A series of fundraisers for orphans and needy children in Greece organized by members of the Greek community – driven by an initiative of the ESTIA: Hellenic Women’s Cultural Association Melbourne – has managed to raise much-needed funds for an orphanage in Thessaloniki.

Members of ESTIA, Ms Driva and Ms Gounari, as well as Paul Mavroudis, traveled to Greece – on their own expense – and visited Thessaloniki to present the funds raised for the orphanage. The members all thanked the tireless efforts and donations of the diaspora, the Greek Cultural Council Association – ENOSI, the Pontian Community of Melbourne and Victoria and the AHEPA. ESTIA has said that a full report on the amount of money raised and how they are going to distribute the aid will be released.

But as it stands they have released details of funds raised by various members of the community including: a musical concert organized by AHEPA which raised $11,250; a dinner dance organized by the Pontian Community of Melbourne and Victoria in collaboration with the Greek Cultural Council ‘ESTIA’ raised $9,500; and The Bank of Cyprus, through the account “Assist the children in Greece” raised 29,887 euros.

So far they have delivered 13,000 euros to the Parents Association in Eastern Thessaloniki giving each child a cheese pie and a drink each day. The Chief Education Officer of Eastern Thessaloniki Michael Kalograia and directors of the school were present when members of ESTIA presented their donation. Sprinder gift certificates were presented to children of the orphanages Melissa’s and Papafeiou – located in Eastern Thessaloniki to purchase clothes, shoes and school supplies.

Melissa’s received 200 gift certificates at a total of 4,800 euros and Papafeiou received 200 gift certificates at a total of 7,400 euros. They also managed to negotiate with Sprinder to receive an additional 30 per cent discount and this was presented to the children in the form of 200 euros that they can spend in the shop. The orphanages also received 3,600 euros for Greek supermarket Vasilopoulos to be used for food for the orphanage. Papafeiou received 1,000 euros for bathroom renovations. In total 29,800 euros was given. The remainder was retained by the bank for cashing checks. Meanwhile, members of ESTIA will continue their work in fundraising to ensure breakfast is supplied every morning to these children for the rest of the year, in addition to 85 working days. ESTIA Hellenic Women’s Cultural Association Melbourne thanked all the sponsors and everyone who supported their efforts with their presence. They also encourage the organizations and the community to continue to support this important project.

Donate direct to the Bank of Cyprus account “Assist the children in Greece” – BSB: 941304 and Account number: 202120002. To get in touch with ESTIA email estia.greekwomen@gmail.com

Source: Neos Kosmos

Modern Greek likely to return to Wales Street Primary

A new survey has found around 70 percent of parents at a Melbourne school support the return of Modern Greek

Modern Greek looks set to return to the Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program at Wales Street Primary School next year, with initial results from a parent survey showing around 70 per cent support.

Last week, parents were asked whether they wanted the school to return to offering Modern Greek, Italian and Mandarin, as it did prior to 2009, or continue offering only Italian. Parent advocate, Angelo Dritsas, told Neos Kosmos he had spoken to education consultant Howard Kelly, who was contracted to create the survey by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Mr Dritsas said that, of the 160 surveys returned, 107 favored the return of Modern Greek. “Every indication from Howard Kelly and others was that they’re willing to work with us to see the return of a three-language program in the new year,” he said. “I can’t see anything that could hold it up at this time.”

Previous surveys, conducted by the school council, have shown support for the Italian only LOTE program.

Mr Dritsas stressed that the campaign had been long, and thanked local politicians Fiona Richardson and Jenny Mikakos, former Education Minister Bronwyn Pike, and the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV).
GOCMV Board Member Theo Markos said the result reflects the will of the school population. “This is a victory not just for the Greek community but for languages in Victoria,” Mr Markos said. “This is a win for multiculturalism.”

Both Mr Markos and Mr Dritsas said they were hopeful an appropriate teacher could be found, although they stressed they wouldn’t interfere in the school’s appointment.

Wales Street Primary School principal, Chris Sexton, said he was not prepared to comment on the initial results, adding that he was meeting with Mr Kelly next week to discuss his recommendation.

Source: Neos Kosmos