Meeting of the Vice-Chancellor Nikolaos Hardalia with the Prime Minister of Victoria – Speech at the “ANTIPODES 2022” Festival of the Greek Community in Melbourne

Meeting of the Vice-Chancellor Nikolaos Hardalia with the Prime Minister of Victoria – Speech at the “ANTIPODES 2022” Festival of the Greek Community in Melbourne

The Deputy Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikolaos Hardaliasas part of his official visit to Australia, met today, Saturday 22 October 2022, with the State Prime Minister (Premier) of Victoria Ms. Daniel Andrews. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the events of the Diaspora Festival “ANTIPODES 2022”.

At the meeting, which took place in a very friendly atmosphere, Messrs. Hardalias and Andrews confirmed the historically close relations between Greece and Australia, which are based on historical, expatriate and religious ties. They discussed issues of mutual interest, with a focus on ways to further strengthen the bilateral relations of the two countries in multiple areas, including issues that concern the large Greek Diaspora community.

The Deputy Minister of National Defence, as part of the first day of his official visit to Australia, attended festive and social events held in Melbourne, as below:

– At the event to celebrate the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Navarino, organized by the Hellenic-Australian Memorial Foundation with the support of the Pammessian Brotherhood “Papaflessa” and the Kalamata Association “March 23”, at the site of the Memorial of the same name.

Mr. Hardalias attended the Memorial Service, which was held under the patronage of Bishop Theophilestas of Sozopol, His Excellency. Sundaylaid a wreath at the Monument of the same name, while in the greeting he addressed, he said:

I had prepared to say some words but I think that when I am in front of people who I know have the country, the blue of our Flag in their hearts, I think it is better to speak from the heart.

And it may sound a little ordinary but again from my heart I want to tell you that I am very excited to be here today. Among people in whose eyes you can see the love for the homeland, those old many memories that brought another country, a homeland here in Australia. People who grew up, people who built new families, a new homeland but never forgot where they came from, their families, their roots, our values, our ideals. And it is a special joy today, to be here with my dear friend, Mayor Thanasis Vassilopoulos, and with the blessings of Theofilestatos, to whom we thank him very much, both for his pastoral work and for his overall presence in our region.

I will not tell you about the Naval Battle of Navarino, I think the President was comprehensive, he said everything, the importance of the Naval Battle of Navarino, we all know it in relation to the independence of our country. But I think history repeats itself. And whenever Greece’s major allies had clear views regarding the developments, then we were really able and brought concrete results and we were able to achieve great victories.

I want to assure you of something. Back there in Greece in recent years things have changed. Our country is strong, it is a protagonist. Our economy despite the difficulties we went through, through memoranda, through difficult situations, has excellent rates despite the ongoing crises we had to face. Crisis with him COVID, energy crises, crisis with the war in Ukraine. We hold on, we have a leader who is our Prime Minister, who tries every day to provide a solution to the big problems and all together, in a spirit of unity, because only with unity can we bring results, we look for the country of the next day. A leading country, a strong country, a pillar of stability and peace. We seek peace. We seek safety. We are trying with our allies to give a message of brotherhood. At the same time, however, I want to assure you clearly that we are not backing down, we remain non-negotiable in our national sovereign rights. In all those for which so many sacrificed. Both Greeks and allies. And today we are here at a Memorial, which comes to prove that we have always, either alone or with our allies, served the right, served the light, been on the right side of history.

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From the bottom of my heart a big thank you. Our gratitude back home many times may not be discernible here in Australia, in America, everywhere our diaspora, expatriate generation strikes. But I want you to know that the younger generations are growing up with great respect, with great honor, for all that the older generations achieved. And the big bequest, the big one legacy is to be able to pass it on to our children. Both here in Australia and back home. From the bottom of my heart a big thank you.

It is my honor, representing the Ministry of National Defense, representing the Greek Government, to be here today with you. Always be well, be strong, be strong, and remember something. That the beating of the heart in front of the blue of our Flag and of our Homeland, is a unique feeling, a unique feeling that every time I am with our community helps me to become better as a person, but also as a person who deals with public affairs. Thank you very much for that.”

Present at the event were representatives of the Federal and State Governments, the Municipality, Greek Members of Parliament, the Greek Consul General Mr. Emmanuel Kakavelakis, the Mayor of Kalamata Mr. Athanasios Vassilopoulos, oi Presidents of the Pammessinian Brotherhood “Papaflessa” Mr. Steve Gotsis and of the Kalamata Association “March 23” Mr. Sam Vlachosthe former President of the Greek-Australian Veterans Association Mr. Steve Kyritsisas well as members of Associations and Organizations of the Diaspora and others.

– At the street renaming ceremony in the district Thornbury where there is a strong element of the Greek Diaspora, in “Kalamata Place”, in the presence of the Mayor of Kalamata and the Mayor of Darebin etc. Lina Messina.

– At the events of the festival of the expatriate community “ANTIPODES 2022”, on the street Lonsdale, with the participation of dozens of expatriate artists and dance groups, as well as well-known artists from Greece. Mr. Hardalias, among others, toured the stands, while delivering the following speech, during the opening ceremony of the festival:

I am really very moved, to be here in Melbourne, where the heart of the Motherland beats so strongly. With people who, through their gaze, through the shaking of their hands, through their eyes, we saw in the little time we had to tour the booths, how much they really love and are moved by the blue of our Flag and of the country us. And we are grateful back there in Greece, because you are the ones, the ambassadors who pass on the flame of the Greek, who wherever he finds himself, under difficult conditions, is the one who will progress, is the one who will give his own unique mark.

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And I want you to know something. Our country is a leading country, strong and our Armed Forces know very well that they must be alert. We seek friendship, we seek peace, we seek good neighborly relations, but above and beyond anything else, our sovereign rights remain non-negotiable.

It is you who worry from here, thirteen thousand kilometers away from home, who set the tone, who give us the meaning, who give us the message. I want to thank you for everything you do for the country. I want to thank you for the unique way in which you really serve principles, values ​​of many thousands of years. And rest assured that back there, we are all proud of each and every one of you and all of you together.

Have a great time today, after all, Greeks also know how to have fun, we know how to be loved, we know how to always be forward-thinking and protagonists.

Be well. Long live Greece. Long live Australia. Be well always».

As part of the Festival events, the Deputy Minister of National Defense met with the Minister of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Mr. Andrew Gileswith the Minister of Tourism, Sports and Large Social Events Mr. Steve Dimopoulos and with the Deputy Mayor of Melbourne Mr. Nicholas Reece.

He also attended the inauguration ceremony of placing a copy of the west frieze of the Parthenon in the building of the Hellenic Community, held by State Prime Minister (Premier) of Victoria Ms. Daniel Andrews and the President of the Greek Community of Melbourne & Victoria Mr. Bill Papastergiadis. It is a symbolic initiative of the Greek Community, with the aim of raising awareness among Australian public opinion about the return of the Parthenon sculptures from the British Museum.

Finally, Mr. Hardalias participated:

– At a working lunch hosted by the Pammessinian Brotherhood “Papaflessas” and the “23 March” Association of Kalamata.

– At a working dinner hosted by the President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Mr. Bill Papastergiadis, in which members of the organizations of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria participated.

The Deputy Minister of National Defense, referring to the large Greek-Australian diaspora, emphasized that it is a major parameter in the bilateral relations between Greece and Australia, while he praised its various actions for the preservation of the historical memory of the motherland as well as the promotion of its positions in international and regional issues.


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