It is a great honour to have you here, not merely because of the position you hold, but because of your achievements. Few men could match the distinction of your record of public service a record spanning almost half a century. You have been Greece’s youngest Premier, her longest serving Prime Minister, a vital force in transforming Greece into a modern European State. But above all, there is your contribution to Greece and to the world in restoring democracy to democracy’s birthplace. Despite the dark and difficult days brought by the suppression of freedom, you had long known, to use your own words, that; “All dictatorships contain the seeds of death. They are doomed from the beginning”.
You understood the aspirations of the Greek people for liberty, for the return of democracy and civilian government. And a divided nation saw you as the man capable of bringing freedom and unity to Greece. You proved that to be correct. Many men would have been tempted to see the restoration of democracy to their country as the culmination of their careers and henceforth avoided the risks and turbulence of politics.
Your sense of duty and commitment to the Greek nation, however, led you to accept the responsibility of helping to make Greek democracy strong and secure. Your success in this undertaking has doubly secured your place in history. Today, you are Europe s senior statesman, a man who commands respect for his wisdom and his unique perspective and experience. I have found very valuable the discussions which we have had already on matters of common concern to our two nations. Because, for all the differences of geography and history between Greece and Australia, our ties are strong.
One matter we discussed is Cyprus, a country to which Greece has a special responsibility as a guarantor power. The intercommunal talks be tween the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities are continuing. Progress in those talks to date has not been great, but the Australian Government continues to believe that they offer the best basis for detailed and lasting settlement. The continued foreign presence on the island does not contribute to an early settlement of differences between the two Cypriot communities. While the inter-communal talks must be continued to be supported, the international community cannot stand aside from the Cyprus problem. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has been actively discussing it with major countries. Australia for its part stands ready to participate in international efforts to facilitate a solution. We recognise the Greek Government’s urgent wish to achieve a just settlement in Cyprus. We recognise the difficulty it has created for the Government of Greece by this situation.
Mr President, Greece traces its heritage directly to the City States and to the supremely influential ideas of Ancient Greece, Homer, Socrates, Plato, Archimedes and Sophocles.
We are a much younger society, but we share the heritage that Greece has so profoundly shaped, because it is a living part of the spirit of democractic man that is fundamental to our everyday lives and to our highest ideals. You are located in Europe, we in the Pacific, but neither of us can afford to be indifferent to what happens strategically, politically, or economically in the other’s region. The realities of the contemporary world make it plain that the strategic and political situation in one part of the globe affects what happens in the others and that economic conditions influence both. So too does history, which shows the Greeks and Australians fought side by side against the fascists and Nazis. And it indelibly records the assistance the Greeks gave our soldiers when that campaign went against the Allies. That common cause forged a bond between our nations that still remains. Beyond this, there is a living and constantly strengthening tie between our nations, one for which your visit contributes greatly. You are the first Greek Head of State to come to Australia, but you are certainly not the first Greek. Greeks have been attracted to Australia from the early days of European settlement, and have been a major addition to Australian society in the post war period.
Today, taking the first and second generations alone, over 300 000 members of the Australian community are of Greek extraction, and their commitment to this nation is demonstrated by the fact that almost 90 per cent of those born in Greece have chosen to become Australian citizens. That they have maintained a love of Greece, makes them even better Australians.
Australia has benefited enormously from their contribution. They have enriched and strengthen ed this country with their energy, their skill, their culture and their children. Australians of Greek descent have contributed to, and succeeded in every sphere of Australian life, and indeed many of the people here are testimony to that today in the professions, the arts, industry and commerce.
This has not been accomplished easily or without sacrifice, it has been done because they have taken the promise that Australia held out, and by their own hard work turned that promise into reality. But their achievements, and because of their commitment to this nation, Australians of Greek descent have won the respect of all their fellow Australians, but they have not forgotten the country of their origin. Distance has not weakened the bonds of affection with family and friends who remain in Greece, or for Greece’s history, language and culture. For Greek Australians all this is not merely a matter of memory and nostalgia. They have been determined, I believe, to preserve and develop valued aspects of their heritage and pass it on to their children through the network of community organisations they have established and through churches, schools, newspapers, and welfare societies, brotherhoods and sports bodies. The strength of this determination can be seen in the fact that of all our major ethnic groups, the Australian born children of Greek migrants have the highest proportion retaining the language of their parents. At the same time, there has been no separation from the community at large, but rather an expanding participation and contribution in the mainstream of our society.
Mr President, I am sure you will be proud of the vigour of Greek culture in Australia and it is very much part of Australian culture and it is no less a source of pride to Australians of all backgrounds. For many years it was a common view that to be really Australian a person had to forsake the heritage of the country where he or she was born.
Today we recognise that Australians can and do retain a particular affection for their country of origin and still be Australians in the fullest and in the very best sense of the word. This recognition is a sign of Australia’s maturity, and that we have been enlarged by the capacities, talents and perspective of millions of people from every part of the world. They have all become part of Australia, a nation quite different from any other a nation that we are all seeking to build together. We have developed as a vibrant, multi cultural society which recognises that we are strengthened by diversity, by Australians, from wherever they might have come, respecting and learning from one and another’s heritage.
Mr President, this aspect of multiculturalism brings me to a subject which may seem rather distant from it, but which I shall now show is very closely connected. I have already spoken of Australia s special links with Greece, but especial ly through our large Greek community, and now given fresh impetus through your visit to Australia.
The Government was therefore determined that your coming here should be marked and remembered for all time in a way which not only recognises those special links, but which also helps to maintain them. Mr President, the Government has therefore decided that in addition to giving you personally something which recognises your attachment to the game of golf. We will as a mark of recognition of your visit to Australia introduce an on-going program of awards to allow young Australians to study or take practical experience in Greece. Each year awards will be granted to eight young people with a wide range of skills and interest. For example, the awards will allow young Greek Australians! young Australians, to gain further knowledge of Greek history and culture, and thereby foster the maintenance and development of Greek cultural heritage within Australia’s multicultural society.
Similarly awards may be given to migrant education teachers, ethnic community workers, student teachers, high school students, or professionals working with Greek Australians, to allow them to study or work in Greece for a period of a year.
The awards will be called the Australian/Greek presidential awards in honour of the visit of President Karamanlis. For anyone young enough to apply or who wants to apply, we will be announc ing details of the scheme later today. But I believe, these ongoing awards will strengthen the links between Greece and Australia and they will also add a further strand to the advancement of multiculturalism in Australia.
During your stay in Australia, Mr President, I hope you will see something of our achievements in this area:
• a multicultural television service, which I think is unique in the world
• an ethnic radio system which spans Australia
• ethnic schools and welfare services run by ethnic communities and supported by the Government
But wherever you go, and whatever you see, you will feel at home, Mr President, in our country. I say that confidently, because knowing a little about the hospitality of Australia’s Greek communities I know that they will ensure that you feel at home wherever you go whilst you are amongst us. Mr President, I’m sure that your visit will reinforce the strong friendship between Greece and Australia, and promote co-operation and understanding between our two nations. The Australian Government and the Australian people welcome you.
Visit of President Karamanlis of Greece
Address by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Resources, the Rt. Hon. J. D. Anthony, C.H., at a luncheon at Parliament House, Canberra, in honour of the President of the Hellenic Republic, His Excellency Mr Constantine Karamanlis, on 10 March: Mr President, my Parliamentary colleagues, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. The presence here today of the President of the Hellenic Republic is an honour for this Parliament, and for Australia. I offer you, Mr President, my personal welcome to Canberra, and to our country.
Your visit is a special one to Australians. The deep and strong links between the people of both our countries are well-known. They began early in the history of our relatively young country. They have continued to the extent that people of Greek descent now constitute the third-largest community group in Australia.
Many Australians, too, go to Greece as tourists or visitors to learn more of your country and its people, and to study its ancient traditions and history. Your visit, Mr President, is a special one also because of the respect in which you are held by Australians for your leading role in the political development and Government of Greece for many years. It is a role, I suggest, that has made a vital contribution to the stability and growth of Greece, and the happiness and welfare of its people. Your election to the Presidency in 1980 was a mark of the regard in which you are held.
I know that while you are in Australia you will have the opportunity to meet many Australians. I hope you will carry back to Greece the goodwill of Australians for your country and its people. I hope also that you will have the opportunity to see something of our country. I am something of a salesman for our country and its industries, and I find that nothing is a better advertisement than personal experience of Australia’s size and its human and other natural resources.
In the same Ministerial capacity, I am also aware of the increasing world attention on Australia and our resources, particularly energy resources. In Australia, at the same time, greater attention has been focused on Greece, Mr President, following your country’s accession to the European Community. I am aware of processes under way or planned in Greece in relation to EEC membership, and I would not wish to speak in detail about this issue. It is worth pointing out, however, that Greece’s accession to the Community, one of our most important trading partners, will mean some changes to our traditional trading patterns with Greece. Australia would hope that Greek membership of the Community would result in a strengthening of trade ties, and we would also be working to avoid any problems that would arise out of your country’s membership.
Whatever decision your country makes on membership of the Community, it is obviously an issue of great economic and political importance for Greece. The uncertain state of the world economy, the serious problems that have arisen in many areas of the world connected with unemployment and inflation, and the serious political instability in some parts of the world are all causes for concern, and your people and your Government will be making their decisions against this background. For our part, I believe Australians want to see Greece grow and develop for the benefit of all its people. I personally hope that our two countries can continue to strengthen their already very substantial ties. We both face the same world outlook, but in very different parts of the world, and with some very different particular problems! In many ways, however, we look at the world through similar eyes. We are conscious of the links between our countries, and we value them greatly. Your visit, Mr President, is an important step in the development of Greek-Australian relations. Once again, I welcome you to Australia.
Australian Greek Presidential Awards
News release issued by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser, on 10 March:
I have announced today the introduction of a program of Australian Greek Presidential Awards in honour of the visit of President Karamanlis. The awards reflect the special links which Australia has with Greece through our large Greek community, and will help to maintain and strengthen them. Awards will be granted each year to eight young Australians to allow them to study or gain practical experience in Greece. The awards will cover a wide range of activities that will foster the maintenance and development of Greek culture within Australia’s multicultural society. Examples include opportunities for young Greek Australians to work or study in their own fields for 12 months, for migrant education teachers or ethnic com munity workers to improve their understanding of Greek customs, and for high school students to spend time in a Greek school, billeted with a Greek family. Awards may also be granted to student teachers or teachers of modern Greek language, and social welfare workers, doctors and lawyers working with the Greek Australian community.
Participants in the program will be selected by a national committee that will comprise six representatives of the Greek community, and representatives of the relevant Government departments and the Australian Institute of Multicultural Affairs. The Office of Youth Affairs will be responsible for administration of the Pro gram. Nominations for awards will be invited from Greek community organisations throughout Australia, as well as applications from individuals, to be lodged with the Office of Youth Affairs by 1 July 1982 for the first round of awards.
Awards will be made to people under 30 years of age, on the basis of their proposals outlining the activities they wish to undertake and the expected benefit of the award to the participants and the wider links between Australian and Greek society.
The awards will cover the return fare to Greece for the participant and a living allowance. The living allowance and the period of the award, which can be for 12 months, will vary depending on the requirements of the individual and the type of activity for which the award is granted.