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‘Our bonds are closely tied’: Greek Culture Minister sends message to Australia’s Greek community

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Greece’s Minister of Culture and Sports, Dr Lina Mendoni, ended her visit to Sydney on Tuesday night by attending a reception hosted by the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Christos Karras.

The special event was held at the Gallery Beta Events of the Hellenic Club of Sydney and was attended by over 100 people, including a number of politicians and prominent members of local Greek community organisations.

Mendoni with Archbishop Makarios, Mr Karras, Ms Gkikiza and youth dressed in traditional Greek costumes. All photos: The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

This included His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia; the Trade Commissioner of Greece in Australia, Katia Gkikiza; Member for Canterbury, Sophie Cotsis; Member for Rockdale, Steve Kamper; Peter Poulos MLC; Courtney Houssos MLC; Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos; and the President of the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW (GOCNSW), Harry Danalis; among many others.

Attendees were treated to a number of Greek canapes on the night as they enjoyed a performance by the Australian Hellenic Choir, which was conducted by Leon Vitogiannis.

Later, a number of speeches were given by Mr Karras, Dr Mendoni and the Vice President of the Hellenic Club of Sydney, Bill Kritharas.

Dr Mendoni was then presented with a photograph of the Evzones at the Acropolis by photographer, Nick Bourdaniotis, before she began to socialise with guests.

In an exclusive interview with The Greek Herald, Dr Mendoni stressed how overjoyed she was to be able to visit the Greek diaspora in Australia this year.

Mendoni with Nick Bourdaniotis.

“I wanted to come to Sydney because it was a great opportunity to get to know the Greeks here, who have a very prosperous community, to connect on a personal and political level, and to strengthen co-operation between Greece and Australia,” Dr Mendoni said.

“Our bonds are closely tied and have deep roots as Australian and Greek people have fought together in the first and second world wars.”

The Greek Culture Minister then sent a message of encouragement and support to the readers of The Greek Herald before leaving the event.

“Buy the paper and read it, especially to your children,” Dr Mendoni stressed.

The Greek Herald gives young people the opportunity to learn the Greek language, spelling and grammar from their parents and grandparents.

“It is our duty to keep the Greek language alive. For as long as the language is alive, Hellenism will be too.”

Dr Mendoni’s full program of events in Sydney:

Prior to the Consul General’s reception for Dr Mendoni, the Greek Culture Minister had a jam-packed four day schedule in Sydney filled with meetings with members of the local Greek diaspora.

On Saturday, April 23, Dr Mendoni attended the Anastasi service at Kogarah’s Greek Orthodox Church in the presence of Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Archbishop Makarios.

(L-R) Scott Morrison, Jenny Morrison and Lina Mendoni at Anastasi. Photo: The Greek Herald / Chris Spyrou.

The next day, after a meeting with Archbishop Makarios, Dr Mendoni was awarded the ‘Order of the Christ-loving Star’ by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

During the week, Dr Mendoni also attended the ANZAC Day dawn service at Martin Place in Sydney, where she met and briefly spoke with NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet.

Later, she held meetings with members of The International Organising Committee – Australia – For The Restitution Of The Parthenon Marbles (IOCARPM), and the Australian Parthenon Association.

During these meetings, the Greek Culture Minister thanked the Chairmen and Board of Directors of the two Committees for their constant support and tireless efforts to promote Greece’s legal request for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

Dr Mendoni also spoke with members of GOCNSW, The Greek Festival of Sydney and The Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney during her official visit.

READ MORE: Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney: The first Greek women’s association in Australia [Part 1].

Mendoni with members of the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney. Photo: Facebook.

On her final day, Dr Mendoni visited the Sydney offices of The Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) at the Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia, University of Sydney (USYD).

The Director of the AAIA, Dr Stavros Paspalas, guided the Minister through the AAIA and she met Professor Vrasidas Karalis and Professor Anthony Dracopoulos of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies at USYD, and Associate Professor Lesley Beaumont from the Department of Archaeology.

READ MORE: Dr Stavros Paspalas on the future of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

Mendoni at the AAIA. Photo supplied.

Dr Mendoni was informed about the very active programs (educational, research and public engagement), which focus on a wide range of aspects of Greek culture run by various entities at USYD, especially by the AAIA and the Department of Modern Greek. She was particularly interested to learn of these initiatives.

Later, she visited the Australian Maritime Museum and met with Acting Director, Tanya Bush, the Senior Executive Strategy & External Relations officer, Daina Fletcher, and the Partnerships Manager, Tina Koutsogiannis.

The Minister was given a tour of the museum which included the exhibitions on voyaging and navigating Australia and the oceans that surround it, and an early 18th century replica chronometer made by Mr Norman Banham.

Dr Mendoni was enthused looking at early time keeping pieces and discussed the archaeological Anthikythera Mechanism and viewed collections related to the Greek diaspora in Australia.

Dr Mendoni also visited the Monument to Migration, which is a bronze-panelled wall that faces Sydney’s Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Bay, honours the thousands of migrants who have made Australia home.

READ MORE: Australian National Maritime Museum unveils 1,281 new names on Monument to Migration.

Dr Mendoni in front of the Monument to Migration.

Following all these important connections with Greek community organisations, Dr Mendoni is now on her way to Melbourne where she will attend the official launch of the Open Horizons exhibition at Melbourne Museum.


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