‘We are proud’: Greece’s Deputy Defence Minister meets with Canberra’s Greek diaspora

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Greece’s Deputy Defence Minister, Nikos Hardalias, was welcomed to the Greek Embassy in Canberra, the ACT on Monday night with a special cocktail event.

The event was attended by about 100 people including a number of dignitaries such as the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, George Papacostas; the High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus in Australia, Antonis Sammoutis; the Deputy Head of Mission at the Cyprus High Commission, Stavros Nikolaou; the Federal Member for Adelaide, Steve Georganas MP; the Federal Member for Calwell, Maria Vamvakinou MP; His Grace Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis; the President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Canberra (GOCC), John Loukadellis; the President of the Cyprus Community of Canberra, Georgia Alexandrou; the President of the Hellenic Club of Canberra, Andrew Satsias; as well as many other representatives from community organisations.

All photos copyright: The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

On the night, people mingled with the Deputy Defence Minister before he, along with the Ambassador and Mr Loukadellis, gave small speeches.

In his speech, Mr Loukadellis confirmed that 40 Greek flags will be flying around Canberra from Tuesday, October 25 until Friday, November 4. The Hellenic Club of Canberra, Old Parliament House, The National Carillon Bell Tower and The National Museum of Australia will also be lighting up in blue and white on Friday, October 28 to mark OXI Day.

These speeches were followed by a number of traditional Greek dances by the Canberra Hellenic Dancers. Mr Hardalias gave each performer a small coin from Greece as a token of his appreciation.

At the conclusion of these official proceedings, The Greek Herald sat down with Mr Hardalias for an interview and the Deputy Defence Minister spoke openly about the current tensions between Greece and Turkey, as well as his interactions with the Greek diaspora in Australia and his upcoming visit to Adelaide in South Australia.

Greece’s Deputy Defence Minister (centre) with The Greek Herald Publisher, Dimitra Skalkos (left), and Digital Editor Andriana Simos (right).

On the Turkey-Greece issue, Mr Hardalias remained firm in his stance that Greece is calling for peace and dialogue, but they will not negotiate on what they believe to be their rights in the east Mediterranean.

Next, when asked about the bilateral relations between Greece and Australia, Mr Hardalias described the bond shared by both countries thanks to the ANZAC legacy and spoke about the Lemnos Remembrance Trail.

The President of the GOCC, John Loukadellis, was given an award by Mr Hardalias.

“We believe that by March next year, studies on the Lemnos Trail will be complete. The trail will become a reference point to remember the presence of Australians in the region,” Mr Hardalias said.

The Deputy Defence Minister next discussed his upcoming trip to Adelaide where he confirmed that he would be holding meetings with the SA Premier, Peter Malinauskas, and SA Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Tom Koutsantonis MP.

The interview concluded with Mr Hardalias sending a message to the Greek diaspora of Australia and thanking them for their hospitality during his visit.

“You should all be proud… as we are proud of the way you embrace Greece no matter how far away you are,” the Greek Deputy Minister concluded with a smile.

*All photos by The Greek Herald / Andriana Simos.

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