Saturday, January 26, 2013


Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.” Plato.
Root and branch

It was an olive tree almost like any other possible olive tree. Its grey trunk, gnarled into a multitude of unnavigable paths and protrusions, as if to demurely lead the public gaze far away from the most trenchant and vituperative depredations of the aeons carved upon it, stood ancient, knotted and doubled over itself with age. If it was Heraclitus who revealed that things keep their secrets, then this tree was accomplished at keeping its own counsel, for nothing save the gentle rustling of its leaves could in anyway betray the confidences of the past, nor lend any premonition as to its knowledge of its own destiny.

It was the last of its kind. Well before it achieved this singularity of fame, it was merely one of many comprising a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, goddess of wisdom, outside the city walls of ancient Athens. The archaic name for the site was Hekademia, which by classical times evolved into Akademia and was explained, at least as early as the beginning of the 6th century BC, by linking it to an Athenian hero, a legendary “Akademos.”

The site of the Academy was sacred to Athena and other immortals; along with its brothers, our olive tree it had sheltered her religious cult since the Bronze Age. Most likely than not, it had borne mute witness to Akademos’ revelation to the Divine Twins Castor and Polydeuces as to the location of Helen, hidden within the grove by Theseus. The road to Akademeia was lined with the gravestones of Athenians. Funeral Games would be held there along with a torchlit night race from altars within the city to Prometheus' altar in the Akademeia. This was the Iera Odos, the Sacred Way.

If tradition is to be believed, it was also under this particular olive tree that the philosopher Plato sat, in order, not so much to teach, but rather, to pose problems to be discussed and solved by others. His “Academy” was a place, not so much of politics but of science. According to the Neo-Platonist Simplicius, Plato had instructed the other members of his Academy, to discover the simplest explanation of the observable, irregular motion of heavenly bodies: "by hypothesizing what uniform and ordered motions is it possible to save the appearances relating to planetary motions.” Further, inscribed upon the entrance to the Academy was the telling phrase: “Let none but geometers enter here.”

More so out of respect for its long tradition and the association with the Divine Twins, that any association with the dialectics of Plato, the otherwise unsentimental Spartans would refrain from ravaging the original “groves of Academe” when they invaded Attica. This piety was not shared by the barbarous Roman Consul Sulla who axed the sacred olive trees of Athena in 86 BC, in order to construct siege engines. It was here that the famous Academy came to an end. Denuded of its trees, it was not considered a suitable place to teach by the last undisputed head Platonist, Antiochus of Ascalon, and he moved the Academy to a gymnasium known as Ptolemy.

Our tree, which looked on benignly and shaded Plato and his students as they speculated on the theory of Forms, saw his brothers fall victim to the Roman axe and yet survived. At that time, it would have been approximately one thousand years old. In the centuries to come, it would remain deeply rooted to the Attic soil, witnessing the annihilative mania of Goths, Gauls and other predatory groups. Our weary olive tree was there when the great City of Constantinople fell and with it, the final memories of an ancient and unique philosophical and literary tradition and it was there still in 1821, when a renascent Greek nation rose up to reclaim that past, certain that in paying homage to it, they would ensure their own success. And for the next one hundred and fifty years, Plato’s tree was compelled to stand silent as the beneficiaries of his bequest to the nation steered that nation into civil war and political strife, bankruptcy, corruption and irrelevance. Brief moments of brilliance as the nation rallied to repel foreign invaders were crushingly overshadowed by internecine conflict, vested interests, and inane, archaistic military coups until that fateful day in 1976 when a bus, veering off the side of the road, collided with it and smashed its venerable trunk.

Plato’s tree’s body may have been shattered, yet its spirit remained indomitable. Just as the re-establishment of democracy in Greece that very year heralded hope for yet another re-birth and a second chance for a nation founded in noble ideals from which it had markedly diverged, so too did our tree re-emerge, tentatively putting out new shoots and slowly, painstakingly reclaiming its place in the sun. It did so as demagogues led the Greek people astray with illusory promises of change, reducing a previously hardy and self-reliant people into indolent clients and cronies, waiting for the next government handout and inexorably eroding their belief in all the traditions and vales that they not only held dear, but which sustained them during the turbulent vicissitudes of the past two thousand years.

Last week, Plato’s noble and ancient three thousand year old tree was completely uprooted and chopped up for firewood. Not even a rhizome remains to claim its place within the Attic soil and promise a miraculous return. It is gone, never to return. And though some may grieve for the loss of a tree that has presided over the existence of our people, in suffering its complete extirpation from its soil, Plato’s tree is doing naught else than that which it has been doing for the past three thousand years: sharing in and reflecting the fate if its people. Greece’s General Directorate of Antiquities is at pains to point out that the tree cut for firewood was not the same one under which Plato sat, but a replacement, giving lie to the story that Plato’s tree regenerated in 1976. It did not, it seems. And neither did we.

A nation that fails its people to the extent where they, barbarised and infantised by broken promises, rapacious acquisitiveness and cynical sound-bites, turn on their own past and uproot it root and branch, no longer has need of cultural symbols for they have come full circle and divested themselves of their own identity, returning instead to a startling form of primitivism that was unknown during previous and one would venture to suggest more serious crises such as the Second World War, where the Greek troops drew inspiration from their faith and the exploits of the ancients in order to repel invaders and survive famine. We have now exhausted our resource of historical and cultural capital and have nothing more to draw from.

No greater sacrifice could have been made by Plato’s tree than, divested of its symbolic value, to offer itself upon the pyre of its people’s basic needs. For us, the post-neo-Greeks, the immolation of such a symbol signals the final funerary dirge upon our selective and self-serving aping of a past we cannot possibly ever hope to resuscitate or surpass. As the Theanthropos himself commanded in the Gospel of Matthew, “Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Now, finally freed from the burden of that past, we can embrace the future and the vacuum of cultural values that it is a harbinger of, comforted in the knowledge that when Plato, our erstwhile compatriot posited that: “There must always remain something that is antagonistic to good,” he was referring to us.


First published in NKEE on Saturday, 26 January 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


In 1887, one of the most popular books to be published in France was Plus d’ Angleterre, or “Down with England.” Its plot, a fantasy of revenge, involved a war with Britain over Egypt, which ends with France depriving Britain of its colonies and confiscating the Parthenon marbles. This, according to the reading public, would be just recompense for an eventual British ascendancy after approximately one hundred years of intermittent warfare, that saw both the French revolution and then the Napoleonic Empire humbled. The rivalry between Britain and France extended not only in spheres economic or political but also archaeological. As far back as the days of the ancien regime, French and British agents vied with each other to acquire great works of art in order to bolster their own national prestige. It is in this context that the removal of the Parthenon Marbles should be placed, within a competition between two world powers, who in a race against time and each other, stripped another land of its cultural heritage, in order to outdo each other. France’s almost successful acquisition of the marbles, aroused the acquisitiveness of the British who determined that the French should not have them and thus beat them to it. The story of the ravaging of the Parthenon is not so much a story of the greed of one man but rather, of an imperialistic and colonialist zeitgeist that saw superpowers appropriate for themselves, symbols of their own legitimacy and power, while at the same time, riding roughshod over the rights of the civilizations whose tenets and values they purported to espouse.

In 1796, Napoleon Bonaparte in a precursor of Adolf Hitler’s pillaging of European art, rampaged through Italy, seizing hundreds of works of art and forcing princely families to sell their collection in order to defray French occupation costs of their land. The treasure hunt was extended beyond Europe. Napoleon’s 1798 Egyptian invasion was cultural as well as military, with 160 scientists and artists forming an institute to carry out “a veritable conquest…in the name of the arts.” The Rosetta stone, written in Greek and Egyptian and the key to deciphering hieroglyphics was their greatest archaeological find. When the French army surrendered to the British, it was allowed to keep its notes and specimens of animals but not manuscripts or antiquities. When General Menou tried to retain the Rosetta stone, it was seized by a British detachment, commanded by a keen antiquarian colonel, who took it to the British museum. To the chagrin of the French, the British proceeded to beat them to the Assyrian antiquities of Mesopotamia as well.

The greatest cultural tussle between the two superpowers, however took place in Greece and contrary to common belief, it was not the British but rather, the French who first conceived of denuding Greece of its ancient monuments. The French ambassador appointed to the Ottoman court in 1783, the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier was an avid collector, and he instructed his agent, the artist Fauvel to: “Take away everything that you can. Miss no opportunity to pillage Athens and its territory of all that is pillageable.” Covetous eyes had long been cast on the statues, external panels and internal frieze of the Parthenon itself. Though seriously damaged by the Venetian war and vandalism, and increasingly dilapidated by the illegal sale of fragments of sculpture to tourists, this was not yet “pillegeable” on a large scale, though Fauvel did manage to acquire some fallen pieces of the edifice, which can now be found in the Louvre. War provided a new opportunity. The Ottoman empire needed British help against the French and the young ambassador, the now infamous Lord Elgin attained an unprecedented position of favour. He and his agents were given permission to enter the Acropolis to make drawings and casts, to excavate, and “to take away sculptures or inscriptions.” The original intention apparently, was not to remove pieces from the building, but this gradually began regardless, with the ‘negligent acquiescence’ of the Turkish authorities.

Elgin, knowing that the French were after the Parthenon marbles, decided to remove as much of them as he could. Appropriately, he used equipment, including a huge cart, made by Choiseul-Gouffier for that very purpose. He was not a connoisseur: his attitude was similar to Napoleon – that this was a question of national prestige. In August 1801, his chaplain was able to report that: “these admirable specimens… which have repeatedly been refused to the gold and influence of France in the zenith of their power,” were aboard ship. By June 1802, Lady Elgin was confident that: “We yesterday got down the last thing we want from the Acropolis, so now we may boldly bid defiance to our enemies.” The end of the Franco-Turkish war and the return of French diplomatic influence came just too late. Much that had not been removed, was subsequently deface or stolen by swarms of souvenir hunters. Elgin, travelling home through France, was arrested and interned when war resumed in 1803, and was treated with some rigour. He believed Napoleon was trying to force him to cede his collection to France. The finest part was still in Athens and French agents, now allies of Turkey, were determined to get hold of it. They succeeded with some small pieces, which they dispatched overland to the Louvre, where they remain, but the huge marbles could only be moved by sea, where the French were powerless, owing to the British naval blockade. It took another reversal of alliances during 1810 and 1811 to enable Elgin to ship over fifty heavy cases of marbles to England. These included the very best of the Parthenon sculptures. The one intact panel secured by the French was captured at sea by the Royal Navy, and is now also in the British Museum.

File:Elgin Marbles British Museum.jpg

Despite his augmentation of British national prestige by removing the marbles under the noses of the French, Elgin was violently denounced for vandalism and theft, most famously by Lord Byron, lover of Greece and admirer of Napoleon. Further, as if in proof of the retributive capacities of divine providence, he did not go unpunished for his deeds. His marriage collapsed and his family was ruined for two generations by the huge expenses he had incurred, which the British government refused to defray. To escape his creditors, he ironically spent his last years in France.

Understanding that it was the cultural rivalry between France and Britain that caused the vandalism of one of them most important buildings of world civilization facilitates the development of alternate strategies for redressing a great historical wrong. Rather than focusing on the British and the bulk of the collection, which forms one of the main attractions and sources of revenue for the British Museum, why not focus our efforts on securing the return of the small French fragments that remain in the Louvre? It would hurt the Louvre not a bit to return these inconspicuous portions, and a France that has lost its miniscule section of the Parthenon Marbles, could be easily enlisted as a vociferous, if albeit self-righteous exponent for the return of the British-held marbles, under the principle that: “if we have had to give back our marbles, so should you.” Let the rivalry recommence. Allons-y!


First published in NKEE on Saturday 19 January 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013


File:Nikolas myra.jpg
At Christmas time in year four of primary school, I was officially crowned the most unpopular pupil in class. The reason for earning this rather dubious title, is that in response to my teacher’s question as to whether we were cognizant of the identity of Santa Claus, I stated: “Yeah, I know, he was an old Greek priest who lived two thousand years ago. He is now dead.” It was this last sentence that caused immense consternation among my fellow pupils, as well as my teacher, who stoutly refused to accept, albeit belatedly, news of the said prelate’s demise. This in turn caused me no end of persecution in the playground, even when I attempted to mollify the unjustified rage of my peers by offering that according to scientific research, the historical Santa Claus was barely five feet in height and had a broken nose. Not for them the tantalising historical titbit that holds Saint Nicholas to be the only canonised repeated subject of a vast array of musical works, including, San Nicola di Bari, an oratorio composed by Bononcini in 1683, Saint Nicholas, a song composed by the English great Edward Purcell in 1730 and of course, an opera entitled ‘Saint Nicholas arrives,’ ingeniously conjured onto the stave by Salesian priest Jerko Grzincic. Truly, the only way in which my painstakingly packed lunch escaped the precipitous fate of defenestration was by my successful diversion of my pursuers by telling them one of the many traditions associated with their Saint. Apparently, in 311AD, there was a famine in Myra, the city of which Nicholas was a bishop. Here a quantity of slapping was inflicted upon my personage, for according to my assailants Santa lives in the North Pole and has reindeer and elves, not Myrans. Undaunted, I went on to relate how Saint Nicholas asked some sailors in the harbour who were loading wheat to take to the Emperor in Constantinople, to unload a part of their cargo to feed the starving city-dwellers. When the sailors reluctantly complied with his request, they found that weight of the load had not changed, while the wheat unloaded for the town was enough to feed the populace for two years.

As can by now be gathered, for reasons unexplained, Saint Nicholas, who by elision and corruption of his Greek name to Santa Claus, is not for the Greek people, the magical person who appears on Christmas Eve, in order to distribute gifts to children. For us, the gift giver is Saint Basil, bishop of Caesarea, who in typically Greek fashion, arrives a week later than everyone else, on New Year’s Eve. Unlike the western version of Saint Nicholas, no mention of children being naughty or nice is made as a pre-requisite to being the recipients of a gift; Saint Basil seems to disperse his largesse indiscriminately. Saint Nicholas however, also was a gift giver, notably providing dowries for poor girls in secret and this tradition may provide the germ of the legend that was to follow.

As bishop, Saint Nicholas was instrumental in articulating the orthodox tenets of Christianity in the First Council of Nicaea. As the patron saint of sailors, he is one of the most revered saints in the Orthodox Church. He was buried at Myra in Asia Minor and after the Turkish invasion of Asia Minor, sailors from the Italian city of Bari confiscated half of his remains in 1087 and installed them in their city, where they remain today.

Possibly not for long. According to Turkish professor Navzat Cevik, Saint Nicholas’ relics must be ‘returned’ to Turkey. An archaeologist at the Akdeniz University, he absurdly claims that is Saint Nicholas’ final wish. Adding insult to brazenness, he adds that Saint Nicolas, known as Noel Baba in Turkish, is also an important figure for Muslims, as “he tried spreading Christianity which is a religion spread by God.”

Cevik’s ludicrous claim would be amusing if it were not for the fact that it discloses a little known fact about Turkey. Its government controls access to sites of religious significance to Christians, refuses to return them to their rightful owners and even abrogates to itself the right to determine when or if religious services can be held in such sites. Saint Nicholas’ church in Myra is a case on point, as is Soumela Monastery in Pontus. Only a few months ago, the Patriarchate was compelled to buy back one of its own churches, forcibly confiscated from it in the aftermath of the 1922 disaster; the 8th century Taxiarxon Church in Bursa, to save it from demolition. It is only recently and in response to the mass influx of Russian pilgrims to Orthodox holy sites throughout Asia Minor that priests belonging to the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been permitted to perform services in such sites, as they have done so continuously for two thousand years.

Despite being so “important” to Islam, priests were only permitted to perform the Divine Liturgy in the saint’s majestic ruined church in 2007. By way of further elucidation as to how seriously the Turkish authorities take the religious aspect of Saint Nicholas’ resting place, as opposed to the commercial opportunities it provides for local Turks, the following anecdote is illustrative to say the least: In 2000, the Russian government donated a bronze statue of Saint Nicholas, portraying him as a Byzantine saint in full hierarchical vestments to the town of Myra, now Demre. This statue was set up on a high pedestal in front of the ruins of the church of Saint Nicholas. In 2005 however, the mayor of the town Süleyman Topçu had the statue replaced by a red-suited plastic Santa Claus statue, because he wanted an image more recognisable to foreign visitors. Protests from the Russian government against this were successful, and the bronze statue was returned, albeit without its original high pedestal, to an obscure corner near the church. This then is how the religious sensitivities of the Turkish authorities for their Christian minorities manifest themselves.

Even more illuminating is this quote from Turkish Environment and Urbanism Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar at a recent conference hosted by the ruling Justice and Development Party's Women's Group: “Christianity has ceased to be a religion but has become a culture of its own… That is what they want to turn [Islam] into as well.”

Saint Nicholas was Greek. His church in Myra is surrounded by deserted villages, whose crumbling into the dusts of oblivion bears mute witness to the three thousand year old Greek community that inhabited the region of Lycia until its expulsion in 1922. The victims of this extirpation and their descendants have no hope of returning to their ancestral homes – that much we can accept. What we cannot accept however, is for a government that has no spiritual, religious, cultural or ethnic claims to important foundations of our history and identity, cynically appropriating such elements solely for their own material gain.

Navzat Cevik addressed his demand for the return of Saint Nicholas’ relics to the Vatican. Granted, the translation of those relics was tantamount to theft, as it was perpetrated in the face of opposition from the Orthodox monks who were guarding them. According to historical sources, the relic theft was premeditated, like the similar theft of Saint Mark’s relics from Alexandria by the Venetians. Accosted by the monks, the thieves of Bari consoled them: “Look you, that we have not disembarked here of our own will, but we have been sent by the Pope and by the Archbishops and Bishops and authorities at Rome.”

It is just as well that they did, for they saved the relics from the ignominy of desecration. As late as 1955, during the Constantinople pogrom, Turks, in a government-organised campaign, shattered the tombs of our patriarchs, removed their bones and paraded them down the street. These then are the people who trade in the religious relics of their down-trodden, disenfranchised and on the brink of extinction religious minorities. The Vatican is right not to respond to Cevik’s effluvium of bad taste. We on the other hand, cannot conceal our hurt at the manner in which our prospective European partner treats its religious minorities with less respect than that afforded to them during Ottoman times.

Mark well, Professor Cevik. When Saint Basil comes back to Cappadocia, as he does every New Year, holding pen and paper, he is making a list of your faux pas and unacademic, unhistorical statements. And should you demand the restitution of his relics to Caesarea, the see of his bishopric, hedging your bets either way to ensure you maintain a monopoly over all Father Christmases, they are in the Great Lavra at Mount Athos. Just you try to get them.


First published in NKEE on Saturday 12 January 2013

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Some years ago, I had written a short story in Greek entitled "Pantheon." Its premise was simple. The narrator is reciting the genealogy and the works and deeds of a long stream of community brotherhood presidents. Towards the end of the story, it is revealed that he is the son-in-law of the last president, that the brotherhood is now defunct and that his audience is a real estate agent, who is putting the brotherhood's clubrooms on auction in order to liquidate its assets and, it is implied, share them among its last surviving members, which just happen to be, the last presidents' children. At the time, I remember members of the older generation who read the story shuddering, as if assailed by a sudden chill in the air, before regaining their composure and assuming an indifferent air, commenting: "Oh that is so far-fetched."

In actual fact it isn't. It is based on a true story, which is mirrored in the recent notice published in a Sydney Greek newspaper, calling a meeting of the Fthian brotherhood "Τhermopylae", with a view to deregistering it and gifting its assets to a hospital and various other institutions. This too has sent shivers up the spines of Community doyens everywhere, who are now compelled to cast their eyes upon the woolly mammoth in the room, and contemplate the complete dissolution and voidance of all their works and aspirations, not at some vague time in the distant future, but rather, within their own lifetimes. What is vaguely and yet disquietingly ironic is that the Fthian brotherhood was also called "Thermopylae," the symbolic term often used of Greek community organisations who are supposed to be "guarding the pass at Thermopylae," ie, striving to keep our culture and language alive. Thermopylae now has well and truly fallen.

That our regional brotherhoods are in terminal decline is no secret and they partly have themselves to blame. I have passed by one brotherhood building at least once or twice a week for the past five years. Invariably, it is always shut, a thick dusty curtain shrouding its interior from prying eyes. An inscription on its door, in large, thick gold letters, unmistakeably proclaims: "Members Only." Sometime in the obscurity of the past, hordes of Greeks from other regions must have been clamouring upon the portals of the building, demanding ingress but not today. If the brotherhood does have members, none have ever been observed in the wild and one wonders if the xenophobia towards non-members was a symptom of an exclusivist attitude that blighted the progression of that organisation.

This brotherhood, could have easily have been like the one whose general meeting I attended back in 1991 as a fourteen year old, where the sole item on the agenda was to exclude persons who were not of the same regional background, from the committee of management. At the meeting, amidst cries of foul from partners of members who had contributed to the brotherhood for years and were now being made to feel excluded, the president, a larger than life personality, explained to them that they were not the real target of the exclusionary proposed amendments to the constitution. Instead, as he further elucidated, their adoption was necessary so that in years to come, someone by the name and ethnic origin of Mehmed Mahmud, would not aspire to the position of president of the club. The meeting ended with laughter and my question, which was why Mehmed Mahmud would want to be the president of an obscure and insular Greek regional organisation, received no answer. Today, no one by the name of Mehmed Mahmud is president of that club and it lingers on, its proceedings conducted in English, its activities centering around football and trivia nights, because the older generations are largely gone or unable to carry on and the younger generations see no reason why they should socialise with persons with whom the only thing that they have in common, is a shared place of origin, often a place which is unvisited and of which they have scant knowledge.

The fragmentation of our community into regional ghettoes in which persons could assert their superiority over their co-villagers by aspiring to the presidency, indulging in micro-politics and ultimately, having nothing to show for half a century or so of fund raisers, infighting and hard work other than a brotherhood clubroom, is regrettable but understandable. Migrants, who had often not been outside their village, let alone their region, prior to their emigration to Australia, felt more comfortable consorting with their own people, considering others to be foreigners. Yet the net effect of such an approach to community organisation, where particularity, rather than commonality is stressed, is to alienate those people who, by virtue of their place of birth cannot partake of the shared identity that is a condition precedent of 'full' and 'genuine' membership of a regional brotherhood- those born or raised in Australia.

Existing brotherhoods are now being compelled to assess their future viability. Do they limp on, oblivious to the decay around them, in self-serving adherence to their own present needs and without regard to the future? Do they continue on, desperately trying to at least hold one function a year so as to convince themselves that they still have a purpose? Of late, it has been posited that what ailing brotherhoods should be doing, is revamping their constitutions so that in the event of dissolution, their assets remain within the Greek community and are not dissipated to extraneous organisations.

This of course makes sense on one level. Yet it is this emphasis on bricks and mortar, the urge to construct and raise capital blindly, without a concrete plan for the future that has secured our brotherhoods' demise. Our forefathers were so intent upon buying and paying off their club premises, that they could not conceive of a time when such a prized possession would stand empty. That time came within one generation because no one was capable of developing and implementing a path that would ensure the longevity of these organisations.

It is therefore futile to expect brotherhoods on an ad hoc basis to determine where to leave their assets to, for the benefit of the community. Quite frankly, they are incapable of making such a determination without guidance. Proof of this is the fact that in most existing brotherhoods' constitutions, their assets, in the event of winding up are generally to be given variously to the Children's Hospital or to an institution back in their home region in Greece. No provision for the youth or for the broader Greek community in Australia was made for because the founders and office holders of the brotherhoods were not able to think communally. For this reason, before such a discourse is entered into, broad community consultations need to be held in order to determine what type of future we want for ourselves and what manner of structures will best secure this. Only then should our brotherhoods be asked to bequeath their historic memory to such an endeavour, knowing that from the ashes of their own existence, a phoenix may rise, or at least flap its wings somewhat.

If there is a time for reorganisation, it is today. Given that it no longer makes sense to organise ourselves according to our place of origin, what prospects lie ahead for the future? Surely, in creating communities of Greeks in the suburbs and areas in which we reside so that we associate with one another as citizens and friends, with a diverse range of interests, values and concerns, in a social environment, rather than a rarefied clubroom. The Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria shows the way through its bold construction of a central cultural fulcrum that can co-ordinate our efforts on a city wide level. Yet without the support and forward planning of all other community groups, such an endeavour cannot realise its full potential, nor probe the farthest reaches of our community. It is high time, prior to the dissolution of our asset rich organisations, that the debate none of us want to have is finally conducted: Where do we go from here? This is a debate that will not be resolved immediately. It requires sensitive and sophisticated analysis of our educational, welfare, spiritual and social needs and aspiration and will take some time. Indeed, it is a debate we should have been having decades ago. Once this is determined, our communal assets must be rationalised, in order to be applied for everyone's benefit, regardless of the narrow vision of some of our brotherhood's founding fathers. And should the day come, that presiding capably over our collective welfare as a coherent Greek community, is the august president Mehmed Mahmud, none will be happier or prouder than I.


First published in NKEE on Saturday 5 January 2013