Monday, July 26, 2004


“Olive, olive olive! Oil oil oil!” Recent comments in the Herald Sun, focusing on the aforementioned oily chant, seemed to forecast a particularly odious 'Greece is the Word,' on Channel 7. And indeed, reading those comments, what immediately sprung to my mind was endless and tasteless 80's 'wog' cliches by Nick Giannopoulos, attempting to ply a tried, tested and thoroughly threadbare art. I was predisposed to dismiss the program, before I had even seen it.
I was most pleasantly surprised. For Nick Giannopoulos' 'Greece is the Word' was a masterstroke of the subtle positive reinforcement andgood publicity that Greece so desperately needs in the countdown to the Olympics and he should be commended for it. Produced in a 'Getaway' type of format, Giannopoulos went back to the basics and dredged up an old truth that was lying in the sea of oblivion, covered by the sands of bigotry: That Greece is a beautiful country, that is fun to visit. The rest was then as easy as sipping a frappe and dreaming up stereotypes.
The Greece Giannopoulos portrayed was a sunny, youthful place. The beaches and the girls were beautiful, quite a difference from the 'moustached' stereotypes that still exist of Greek women in the Australian community. Giannopoulos met with glamorous, rich and funky people and hobnobbed with the beautiful. This was not the Greece of uncle Mitso with his fish and chip shop that the wider Australian audience would have been led to expect, but rather a Euro-Greece, groovy and smooth. Though many of the scenes and gags were stage-managed, Giannopoulos was able to successfully infuse his own passion and love for the places he visited into the program and transpose to the viewer an irrepressible longing to visit the unparalleled platinum beaches and funky nightclubs of his Greece.
Curiously enough, he inspired in those that have left Greece and settled in Australia, mixed feelings: pride at seeing the country that they left in traumatic conditions come of age but also regret. Somehow, though they have been chanting the mantra that they are better off here, the old doubt that if they had held off a little longer, if they had stayed in the home country they would be enjoying a better lifestyle resurfaced. Deep sighs in the living rooms throughout Greek Australia...
Sure Giannopoulos could not help lapsing into a few instances of his old act on 'Acropolis Now.' Yet these lapses were successful and subtle because they were juxtaposed against a totally alien background that belied the authenticity of the old wog-role. The message was apparent for all to see: The act is just an act. The real Greece is what you see before you in the camera. This was heart-warming and exceptionally well done.
Of course the Greece that Giannopoulos plies to his audience is a sanitised, 'sexed-up' interpretation of an extremely complex land. Giannopoulos does not portray the harsh and often poverty stricken existence of resource-barren villages, nor the daily mundane and frustrating routine of some of the metropolises. The Greek people are more than just the party-going, welcoming and happy people of the program. Nor is it perpetually summer, especially in Macedonia and Epirus.
Nevertheless, should Giannopoulos have to portray these realities? The sad fact is that an older myth, that of seductive Mediterraneaness is needed to override a newly forged one, that of a slothful and incompetent security risk. As an aside, did you all notice the camera pan to the handsome, self assured soldier clutching his weapon on the island of Santorini , ensuring that all is safe and secure on Fantasy Island and that no one will drop a bomb on the twin churches? Brilliantly done Nick.Unfortunately, the Anglo-Saxon world is not interested in realities. In its black and white blinkered world of symbols, everything must serve a purpose and that of Greece is to be either a scapegoat, or a glamorous summer playground consisting of Santorini, Mykonos and an unpleasant transit in Athens. This notwithstanding, Giannopoulos' modern Greece, with a bucolic admixture of folk dancing and of course, donkeys because they make us feel warm and fuzzy is to be preferred as it comes as a welcome respite to negativity and because at least for a sizeable margin of the island population, this myth has become the reality that ensures they earn a living..The question that one would have to inevitably ask, is why it is left up to individuals, (albeit capable ones like Giannopoulos) to promote Greece? A perusal of such publications as the Time magazine often yields tantalising photographs of Turkey strategically placed to exhort the reader to put their yearning for the Mediterranean into action. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the Greece advertisements for which are notably inconspicuous in the mainstream media. Greek consulates here, which also remained remarkably silent as to the recent biased ABC report on Greece, need to focus less on a forbidding barrier and place of exile mentality and more openly promote Greek (as opposed to Greek-Australian) interests here.If anything, Giannopoulos has proven that Greek-Australians are great ambassadors for Greece and are key to the promotion of Graeco-Australian co-operation. If Giannopoulos' thoroughly entertaining program as well as the recent Zorba (tacky, but kind of fun) romp in Federation Square which saw people of all races enjoying themselves by being Greek for a few minutes, are anything to go by, imagine the effect of a co-ordinated governmental and Greek-Australian effort. Achievable outcome or whimsical Mediterranean fantasy? You, or rather the Greek Tourism Board be the judge.
For the moment, let us all bask in the warmth of the praise lavished upon our country of origin in recent articles in The Age and the Weekend Financial Review. It was time we took our laurels out of the closet and aired them a tad.

First published in NKEE on 26 July 2004

Monday, July 19, 2004


Now that the hype has somewhat died down, it is time to take stock of the achievement that touched the hearts of Greeks throughout the world recently and view it in perspective. The more cynical among us would point out that all Greece did, was to win a series of soccer matches. This doesn't change anything. It does not wipe away thousands of years of history, nor does it alleviate the daily frustration of Greeks going about their business in an often chaotic Athens. Nor indeed it does it wipe out the fact that while Greece celebrated, Parnitha burned and people lost their homes or their lives. Or should it?
The fact of the matter is that Greece's win in the Euro 2004 was much more than about soccer. Indeed one could argue that it had very little to do with soccer, given that the vast majority of those who sat glued to their televisions or radios, grandmothers and great-grandmothers included, have no idea about the Game. Instead, the significance of the event is two-fold. The first is that it was one of those rare moments when the entire Greek people, wherever situated, were chanting in the same voice, hoping the same hope and dreaming the same dream. Erstwhile enemies were reconciled. From the Patriarch in Constantinople who prayed for a Greek victory (who said that the Orthodox weren't right?) to the Archbishop Christodoulos who strutted his stuff at the victory gathering afterwards, from the Turkish fans who celebrated with the Greeks in Constantinople, from President of the Hellenic Republic to all the leaders of the political parties, from the cutthroat Greek soccer team fans to the average Mitso on the street, a Euro2004ic truce was proclaimed. No more hostilities till the outcome of the match. Only the warring members of the GOCMV did not desist from their internecine sparring but lately the whole world has questioned their Hellenism at any rate…. One of the most moving moments in the whole game for me was receiving a phone call from a friend in Argyrokastro in Albania. In the background I could hear cheering and chanting. "The whole city is covered in Greek flags," he told me. "All the Greeks are on the streets. Nothing like this has ever happened to us since the Greek army liberated us in 1940." On the obverse side of the coin, Albanian nationalists, threatened by the soccer match, decided to burn some of the Greek fans' cars, as a reprisal. A typical Balkan response….
Secondly and most importantly, the Greek success at the Euro 2004 is a prime example of history repeating itself. It would not be a generalization to claim that historically the Greeks have had a knack for astounding the world when they least expect it. Take the Persian Wars for example. A tiny, disorganized, impoverished and at the time, primitive conglomeration of tribes, was able not only to defeat the expansionist world power of the time, Persia, but also, years later, to actually conquer its entire empire. Regardless of the fact that the whole enterprise collapsed into endless civil wars between Greeks, both in the Peloponnesian Wars and those of the epigonoi, the Greek achievement as recorded in Herodotus and Arrian still astounds the world today.
Similarly, the Greek Revolution of 1821, where a small group of disorganized and poorly provision fighters was able to throw off the yoke of a world power, sparking off nationalist revolutions left, right and center is another remarkable and improbable achievement, regardless of the fact that the whole effort also degenerated into a civil war and the western powers had to come in and bail us out. The Greek achievement in defeating the Italians and totally terrorizing the Nazi occupiers on the mainland and in Crete so that they were never able to completely control the whole country is again one of those impossible achievements that exemplify the occasional indomitability of the Greek spirit, again despite the fact that the whole enterprise degenerated into a civil war.
Just when the world press was mocking our attempts to organize the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, just as horde after horde of journalists lampooned our slothful ways, our backward infrastructure and made us feel that perhaps we are all as worthless and incompetent as the rest of the world portrays us, the victory of the Greek soccer team was a much needed self-esteem injection. It reinforced the notion that it is when one least expects it, that we can achieve the impossible. A small nation in size but a vast nation in historical depth has ample reserves of strength to draw upon. Last week, we stood up to be counted not as a nation of soccer players, but as a nation that demands respect.
For we are a great nation. Our recent history has been one of violence and poverty yet through sheer willpower, Greece has transformed itself into a modern, European and peaceful nation, an example to be emulated by the rest of Eastern Europe. Western media tend to forget that their countries have not suffered the same depredations that the Greeks have and the fact that we survived in any shape at all, both physically and culturally is a supreme achievement.
While for a week it was 'cool to be Greek' and the Australian media in typical sycophantic style lauded the same people a week earlier it was trashing, the latent tendency to put Greeks down is still there. The presenters of the Fox FM morning show were quick to exhort their listeners to "never forget that Melbourne is the football capital of the world," other FM radio stations warned their Greek listeners not to use the Greek soccer team poster in the Age to "wrap up their fish and chips," while later in the week, Nick Giannopoulos attempted to capitalize on the whole affair by making his usual and by now threadbare comments about Greeks in general on FM radio.
At the end of the day then, the Euro 2004 triumph was not really about stopping malicious tongues. Rather it served to remind us that we deserve respect, though we do not always get it and that we are capable of anything, given the right amount of perseverance. This is something that we would do well to remember during our 'slump' times and not lose heart.

First published in NKEE on 19 July 2004


The recent Foreign Correspondent report on the Muslims of Thrace aired on the ABC left much to be desired. If anything, it came across as a naive and clumsy attempt to rake up past animosity in order to somehow impugn the Greek nation and present it as a state that impinges upon the rights of its non-Orthodox Christian inhabitants at a key moment, just before the staging of the Olympic Games.
Some of the assertions made by the program are undoubtedly true. There is a sizeable Muslim majority in Thrace, which regardless of its origins, is oriented towards Turkey. This minority has been discriminated against in the past in various ways. However, the program tried to magnify the extent of such discrimination as well as to cleverly elude the task of explaining how such discrimination came to be, in order to place it in context.
The fact of the matter is that while Thracian Muslims have been viewed with suspicion by mainstream Greeks, since the 1923 treaty of Lausanne, which normalised the relations between Muslim and Christian minorities in Greece and Turkey, Greece’s Muslim population has increased and flourished. With few exceptions, Thracian Muslims are afforded education in their own language and religious autonomy. Thracian Muslims have even become members of the Greek Parliament, such as the colourful Ahmet Sadik. That “persecuted” Thracian Muslims actively take part in the Greek political process is something that escaped the researches of the program, to their discredit.
The fate of the Greeks and indeed the Christians remaining in Turkey has not been so easy and this is also something that the program failed to point out. Rather than increase, the Greek population has dwindled from an estimated 500,000 in 1923 to 2,000 today. That is a vast number of people. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks fled Constantinople after the pogrom of 1955 where mobs targeted Greek businesses, burnt homes, smashed tombstones, defiled and burnt churches and raped Greek women. Greeks were subjected to such persecution that in the 40’s Seferis, visiting the city, was slapped by a Turkish gendarme for speaking Greek in the streets. I noticed while staying among Greeks in that city that they are so afraid that they still refuse to speak Greek in public. This is not the case in Thrace among the Muslims who can speak Turkish with absolute freedom from fear.
Greek education was heavily curtailed and taken over by a Turkish education ministry dedicated to the extirpation of references to Greece from the schoolbooks. At the same time the Varlik Vergisi and other hidden taxes served to expropriate most of the wealth from the affluent Constantinopolitan Greek community. Until recently, the Oecumenical Patriarchate has been the scene for foiled bomb blasts and other acts of terrorism, including threats by government officials that the Patriarch will be expelled. In the seventies, democratic Turkey closed the religious school of Halki and refuses to this day to open it. On the island of Imvros, the autonomy of its Greek inhabitants as set out by the treaty of Lausanne was never respected. Instead, an open prison was founded on the island, hardened criminals being given carte blanche to rape and terrorise the Greek inhabitants to the extent where save for a few elderly people, most of the Greeks have fled. Similarly, regular Turkish raids on the Assyrian Christian communities in the Tur Abdin have reduced this once flourishing monastic community to almost nothing.
Surely it is immature not to understand any discrimination of Greeks or Muslims as a regrettable outcome of Greco-Turkish politics since 1923. Indeed, the 1955 Constantinople pogrom seems to have been a reaction to Cypriot calls for enosis with Greece, while allegations that Greece has in the past removed Greek citizenship from Thracian Muslims who studied in Turkey must be seen in the context of a response to Turkey removing Turkish citizenship from fleeing Greeks. There are thousands of Constantinopolitan, Imvriot and Tenedian Greeks living in Australia who have lost their citizenship as a result of them coming to Australia. A mature report would have drawn parallels and made the necessary and obvious conclusion: that hatred breeds hatred and that people in glass houses should never throw stones…
Indeed, the report as to the rights of the Thracian Muslims comes as a surprise given that both Greece and Turkey have made grandiose moves to better their relationship and both peoples are optimistic about their co-operative future. It was totally unnecessary then, to present what actually is, yesterday’s news.
The timing of the report, as well as the clumsy attempt to link the Muslims of Thrace with the question of the religious observance of migrant Muslims in Athens seems to make the whole report suspect. One cannot shake the feeling that rather than analyse the difficult acculturation of a diverse range of peoples in what was for at least fifty years a homogenous society, the reporters, in the countdown to the Olympic Games, engaged in another inept attempt to denigrate and discredit Greece.
There is something self-righteous in Australian journalists complaining that the Greek government does not buy the itinerant Muslim workers a mosque when we Greeks in Melbourne, along with other races had to scrimp and save to build our own places of religious observance with the minimum of help from our government. The reporters would do well to remember that it was the tolerance of the Greek monks on Mt Sinai that permitted them to build a mosque in the monastery of St Catherine as early as the 7th century, while Constantinople under the Greeks was the first European city to permit the erection of mosques within its bounds at a time when the crusading West was hell bent upon the destruction of Islam.
The Foreign Correspondent report unfolded itself on the past and stumbled upon the reality that today, there is no persecution of Muslims in Greece. Today, two erstwhile hostile countries are tentatively reaching out to each other in friendship. They do not forget their bloody past, but no longer do they see that past as an insurmountable obstacle. And that is a triumph no blinkered and unsophisticated journalist can sully.


First published in NKEE on 19 July 2004
Republished in GREEK-AUSTRALIAN VEMA July 2004

Monday, July 12, 2004


I’d like to politely point the 'liberating' forces of the US Army in Iraq in the direction of Xenophon's “Anabasis” in the hope that they would realise that which Xenophon's army came to find out at great cost and peril thousands of years earlier: that it is one thing to invade Mesopotamia and another thing to retain it. The chaos ensuing from the invasion of Iraq has opened up a veritable can of worms in the region, pitting Arab against Kurd, Shi'ite against Sunni, Ba'athist against fundamentalist and Muslim against the West.
Greek media coverage of the Iraq debacle has note worthily been more sensitive in pointing out the abuses and problems faced by the US-led occupation forces that its Australian counterparts who generally report only instances of Iraqi aggression. Interestingly, while analysts embroil themselves in Sunni, Shia and Kurdish politics, next to no-one has spared a thought for the ever diminishing and embattled native population of Iraq: the Assyrians.
The Assyrian people have lived in the Mesopotamia, referred to by them as Bet-Nahrain (the land between the Two Rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris) since before the Greeks descended into the Balkans. While their empire and domination of the Middle East before the rise of the Persians is generally well documented, reaching as far as Cyprus and Egypt, as is their influence on Greek science, it is commonly and wrongly assumed that after the fall of Nineveh, their great capital, that they became extinct. However, the Aramaic speaking peoples of Bet-Nahrain remained such a vital part of the Persian Empire that their language became the official language of correspondence in that empire.
The Assyrians were quickly Christianised, and this caused them to suffer great reprisals by the Persians who saw them as a potential fifth column of the Byzantine empire. In this respect the Assyrians formed an uneasy buffer zone between two hostile civilisations, absorbing influences from both. Establishing a vital theology, the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the East embarked on a vast missionary feat that had it spread Orthodoxy as far as China and India.
Indeed, Marco Polo found Assyrian monasteries in Mongolia and the Mongolian Khans, rulers of the largest empire of the world, protected and were profoundly interested in Assyrian Orthodoxy. Today, though much diminished, the Orthodox Church in South India still looks to the Assyrian Patriarch for guidance. Assyrians also looked to the Greek world for theological and philosophical inspiration. Many of the ancient Greek as well as ecclesiastical texts surviving today, are so extant because of the Aramaic translations and commentaries compiled by Assyrian scholars, while the Antioch school of theology that so influenced Byzantine thinking was mainly Aramaic speaking. Again it is through the medium of these scholars that Greek philosophy was able to be passed on to the Arabs and dispersed throughout the Middle East, while Assyrians take pride in the fact that their language, Aramaic, was the language spoken by Jesus Christ.
The rise of Islam has not been kind to the Assyrians, though they have tenaciously clung to their Christian heritage. Forced to retreat to their heartland among the mountains of northern Iraq and southern Turkey, their story is one of continuous persecution and massacres by their Muslim neighbours. This has been never more so this century when the Assyrians suffered genocide at the hands of the Ottomans and Kurds at the same time as the Armenians and Pontic Greeks were going through a similar tragedy. One of the world's better known Assyrians, Thea Halo, author of the book Not Even My Name who visited Melbourne last year, emphasises the joint suffering as creating an unsunderable bond between our two peoples - that is, if the Greeks paid attention to the 5,000-strong refugee Assyrian community within its borders. It is worthwhile noting that an Assyrian regiment of the British army fought in defence of Crete in 1941. Today, the once strong Assyrian community in Bet-Nahrain is slowly evacuating its ancient homeland. From an estimated two million Assyrians living in Iraq at the turn of last century, it is estimated that only 200,000 or so remain today. British promises of Assyrian independence caused thousands of Assyrians to enlist in British regiments, only to have their dreams snatched away from them and be left alone to face the mounting hostility and reprisals of Kurds and Arabs.
The Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein encouraged further tension between Kurds and Assyrians, resulting in murders and internecine strife. During Saddam's rule, 200 churches were destroyed and the archaeological finds attesting to the glories of Assyrian civilisation were spirited away. Formal Assyrian language classes were banned and Assyrians were forced to give their children Arabic names in an effort to assimilate them. Saddam's son Uday would deliberately target Assyrian girls as his playthings, to be raped and then killed by his bodyguards or ripped apart by his menagerie of wild beasts while members of the Assyrian community in Melbourne tell stories of kidnappings, murders and mutilations that turn one's stomach. All the time, in the interests of strategy and big petro-dollars, the west stood idly by and did nothing. Now, after the so-called 'liberation' of Iraq, it is noteworthy that while a fundamentalist and anti-Christian climate has been created, none of the 'protectors' of Iraq has seen fit to take steps to protect its most vulnerable and peace-loving people. American soldiers permitted Iraqis to loot the Baghdad museum of all Assyrian antiquities, while imams actively encouraged looters to destroy artefacts that were not Islamic. The new Iraqi constitution studiously avoids any mention of the Assyrian minority and definitely does not provide any measures for the protection of its cultural heritage.
In the meantime, the few Assyrians remaining in the zone controlled by the new government are subject to harassment and violence by their Muslim neighbours. In the Kurdish controlled north, the traditional Assyrian heartland, thousands of Assyrian families are streaming across the border to Syria in fear of their lives. In towns such as Mosul and Arbil, the scene of Alexander the Great's great victory over the Persians, being towns that enjoy significant Assyrian minorities, Assyrian businesses are plundered and prominent members of the community are being assassinated. So much then for a pluralistic and tolerant Iraq and for the efforts of our Western bringers of light, or rather to use the Latin, “lucifers.” An ancient people is through a situation caused by the West, or at the least by deliberate neglect, being allowed to walk the slow, traumatic walk into the pages of extinction. A proud people, to whom the prophets of the Old Testament refer to as the rod of God's anger and who have contributed so much to world culture are doomed to revisit genocide and ethnic cleansing over and over again, victims of the machinations of 'greater Powers' and major historical bungling.
What a triumph of Western Civilisation the 'democratisation' of Iraq proved to be, especially for a Christian people. Now that, to quote the emperor Claudius in Robert Graves' Claudius the God, all the poisons that lurk in the mud have hatched out, let us pray that despite this further Western betrayal of them, the Assyrian people will find the strength to survive, albeit just.
An ancient people is through a situation caused by the West, or at the least by deliberate neglect, being allowed to walk the slow, traumatic walk into the pages of extinction.
First published in NKEE on 12 July 2004
Republished in Zinda Magazine 24 August 2004.

Monday, July 05, 2004


Year after year, there was always a kid in the playground who was uncool. He was either nerdy, smelly, not good at sport or just generally unpleasant to be around. On occasion, said kid would try to weasel his way into the cooler kids’ good graces by making them offerings of chips, coke or lollies from the canteen, accompanied by the usual question: Will you be my friend? The stock response then was to accept the food offering, punch the hapless kid in the stomach and steal the whole packet of chips as a lesson that money just cannot buy friends. The law of the playground is replete with similar lessons in moral justice.
And yet history is strewn with examples of weaker parties of diminished leverage power reverting to their doomed childhood tactics in moments of extreme danger. Take for example the Persian invasion of the Balkans. When Darius the Mede stood at the Hellespont and ordered his emissaries to demand of the Greeks that they provide him with gifts of earth and water (the ancient equivalent of coke and chips) in submission, the Macedonians immediately complied. The Persians were now their friends, which meant that the Macedonians had the distinct privilege of allowing the Persians to pillage their country and use it as a base for operations against the unservile, freedom-loving Greeks further south (the equivalent of the playground punch in the guts). Happily, those virile, friendless Greeks were too busy defending a glorious way of life to need to ‘buy’ friends and indeed, spent the next hundred years proving this to the Persians by emulating their friendship tactics and destroying the Persian civilisation.
Sadly, it appears that old habits die hard. A large portion of the foreign policy of the Byzantine Empire was predicated upon the need to ‘buy’ friends among the barbarian tribes that fringed the Empire. Unfortunately, the vast amounts of gold and jewels that left the imperial treasury for the felt tents of the khans of the Petchenegs, Cumans or the krals of the Bulgars and Slavs did little to fend off the inevitable ‘punch in the guts.’ Every so often, barbarian raiders, well-equipped with Byzantine gold would swoop down into the Empire and wreak havoc. Indeed, the story of the Empire is of a glorious but embattled state gradually being whittled away by those who it tried to buy off as friends.
Alexius Komnenos tried to ‘buy’ the friendship of the Pope and the western Europeans. When however he ran out of funds, they sacked Constantinople, devastated the Empire and caused its terminal decline. Ioannis Palaiologos also tried to ‘buy’ Papal friendship by offering submission to the Papal throne. Thankfully, St Mark of Ephesus and others like him were able to nip these manifestations of playground servility in the bud. Byzantine gold also was not enough to save Constantinople from its feudal overlord and friend, Mehmet II the Conqueror. Quite bored with receiving the servile chip-offerings from his cringing Greek vassals and bent on world playground domination, it was he that finally put an end to playgroundism by conquering the eternal city in 1453.
It is a testament to the concept of continuity of the Greek spirit throughout the ages that aspects of the Greek culture remain unaltered from days ancient. It appears that playgroundism is still extant within us, even in such far-flung corners of the globe as the Antipodes. How else to explain the disturbing news that the Greeks of Sydney and Brisbane have raised the sum of $185,000.00 in order to fund the Australian Olympic Team’s Athens Games?
It is worthwhile to place this singular activity in its context. Throughout the course of the past year, the Australian media has indulged in a frenzy of denigration of Greece, Greeks and the Greek Olympic effort. The Australian government has issued an unjustifiably severe travel warning for Greece. Some Australian Olympic Athletes have joined the fray by criticising Greek facilities or musing publicly about ‘what the food would be like’ and we, in playgroundic “will you be my friend” style are attempting to buy goodwill from a hostile recipient.
As Greek-Australians, it is admirable that we seek to be a bridge between both cultures and promote such good-will. If anything, it shows how committed to Australia we really are. However, the effort is misconceived. Olympic athletes receive millions of dollars of funding from governmental and corporate entities alike. They do not need the paltry hundred thousand we offer them in exchange for a friendship that will not be granted to us. It is sad that while other ethnic and community organisations do not donate to what is ostensibly a government affair, that we feel obliged to do so in the vain hope that the image of Greece in Australia will change.
Instead, if the Greek community wished to make a difference to Australian sport, it could better apply that money to promoting and assisting young Greek-Australian athletes with promise to reach the heights of their potential. They could assist in organising and funding games such as SAE’s Elliniada Games which bring Greek-Australians closer together and celebrate Australian sport. In our day and age, it is not easy to raise money for ‘Greek’ purposes. One would think that given the state of our community, that other activities, rather than face-saving would be given priority, such as aged-care and education. Unfortunately, these are not glamorous, nor easily boasted about.
The Greeks of northern Australia have unwittingly emulated the example of their ancient northern Greek counterparts. It remains to be seen whether the Greeks of southern Australia, true to their ancient counterparts’ example will resist the temptation, and like those counterparts, run the a lonely marathon for pure existence.


First published in NKEE on 5 July 2004