NSW Dimitria Festival lecture shines light on the Macedonia name dispute

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As part of the 2022 Dimitria Festival that took place on Sunday at the Panarcadian Club in the Sydney suburb of Ashbury, lectures were given by Dimitrios Kametopoulos and Costas Vertzayias on the Macedonian issue.

The lectures were part of a series of talks organised by the Pan-Macedonian Association of New South Wales and focused on the March 1, 1992, Sydney protests in response to the Macedonia name dispute.

During the event, the President of the Brotherhood of Chalkidiki “Aristotelis” of NSW, Costa Dantos spoke and thanked Mr Kametopoulos and Mr Vertzayias for delivering “such important lectures” throughout this year’s Macedonian events.

Speaking first was Mr Kametopoulos, whose speech was based on eyewitness accounts and memories, primary sources and the articles of the Greek print media of the time.

Mr Kametopoulos said the protest of 1992 against the state of Skopje or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was the catalyst to unite the then-divided Hellenes, and especially the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia with the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney and NSW.

Unity arose from the Greek rejection of the former Yugoslav state appropriating and monopolising the Greek name of Macedonia, he said.

He then gave a brief historical analysis of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which he said was instigated by foreign hands, in the midst of the ethnic rifts and conflicts between the people of this Balkan country from 1990 onwards.

Mr Kametopoulos then presented the headlines of the Greek media at the time, amongst which The Greek Herald featured prominently, displaying the 80,000 Greeks who took to the streets in the centre of Sydney’s CBD.

Next to speak was Mr Vertzayias. He spoke to his experience of leading the Pan-Australian Community Committee, which discussed the Macedonian issue with the then-Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating.

In his speech, Mr Vertzayias explained how the rally was organised, the successes, consequences and problems that arose.

He also pointed out the tensions between the Greek and the Macedonian communities, and the threats received by several organisers of the Greek rally and the damage suffered by several shops or small businesses for simply being Greek-owned. The same fate befell some Greek Orthodox churches that were the target of fires and damage by fanatics.

Mr Vertzayias also took the time to thank the special guests in attendance, which included the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW, Anastasia Karakominakis; and the Vice President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of NSW, Peter Papoulidis, among many others representatives of Greek community organisations.

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