The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM), in collaboration with The Consulate General of Greece in Melbourne, hosted a reception on Wednesday, December 6, in honour of Greece’s Ambassador to Australia, George Papacostas, at the Greek Centre.
The event was attended by community leaders, parliamentary members, and representatives from the Greek media, fostering a vibrant ambiance of cultural interchange and diplomatic fellowship.
It underscored the strength derived from a united community and the shared commitment to preserving and promoting Greek traditions in the multicultural landscape of Melbourne.
The event commenced with welcoming remarks by Anthea Sidiropoulos, GCM Vice President, highlighting the significance of the Ambassador’s contributions to the bilateral relationship.
“Ambassador Papacostas’ visit is not merely a diplomatic formality; it is a recognition of the importance of cultural diplomacy,” Ms Sidiropoulos said.
“As we engage in dialogue, exchange ideas, and celebrate our commonalities, we reinforce the bridges that connect Greek & Australian societies.”
The President of the GCM, Bill Papastergiadis OAM, emphasised the importance of the diaspora in Australia, particularly in Melbourne.
He highlighted the enduring impact of the Greek community, when the initial Greek families arrived in Australia, and continuing to the present day.
Mr Papastergiadis OAM stated, “Melbourne stands as a dynamic cosmopolitan metropolis, serving as a prime illustration of effective support for multiculturalism in order to attain positive societal outcomes.”
“This model of multiculturalism in Melbourne should be part of learnings on how diverse communities can unite and collaborate harmoniously,” he added.
“The narrative of this multicultural city is not a fixed tale but a dynamic journey. It’s a voyage characterised by change and progress. What awaits us is not merely a city, but a vision—a vision of sustainable growth, and a flourishing community.”
Mr Papastergiadis also referred to a series of issues raised in Greece during his meetings with the Prime Minister, governors and other government officials including the double taxation agreement, expanding the relationships between Greek and Australian universities fostering educational opportunities and cultural exchange programs for students, the facilitation of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) in the Greek Centre, and the return of Parthenon Marbles to their homeland.
Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta stated that, “It’s a great honour to have Mr Papacostas with us. He has played a pivotal role in fostering diplomatic relations and strengthening the cultural ties between Greece and Australia. Our souls are bound in unity.”
“This moment marks a modest stepping stone for the forthcoming generations,” the Bishop said.
Consul General of Greece in Melbourne, Emmanuel Kakavelakis, mentioned, “Melbourne, apart from the fact that it is a city with the third largest Greek population in the world, has a highly respectable Greek Community, which has done tremendous work in recent years.”
“Beyond the accomplishments, there is a rightful sense of optimism when looking towards the future. The foundations are robust and provide a solid basis for future endeavours,” the Consul General added.
In his speech, Mr Papacostas reflected on the relationship between Greece and Australia.
“The ties between the two nations are resilient and constantly evolving. The diaspora acts as a bridging connection with our homeland,” Mr Papacostas said.
Mr Papacostas expressed his gratitude for the warm reception, as he also expressed his admiration for the replica marbles adorning the GCM building and the role the Community plays.
A community plaque was presented to the Ambassador, as a recognition and appreciation for his visit and noteworthy contributions to the Greek diaspora in Australia.
As community members interacted with Ambassador Papacostas, there was a palpable sense of mutual respect and appreciation, underscoring the event’s success in fostering cultural understanding and diplomatic goodwill.