Members of Melbourne's Hellenic clubs gathered in a meeting organised by the Pan Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria in Clifton Hill last Thursday evening to decide the Greek Community's next actions regarding the 'Macedonia' name dispute.
In the meeting, the community representatives discusses the suggested names for FYROM by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, the relations with Greece's Balkan neighbours, and the ongoing conversation between Athens and Skopje.
Mr Nimetz said on 1 February that he was "optimistic Balkan neighbors 'Macedonia' and Greece could resolve a name dispute that has strained relations between the two countries for more than a quarter of a century".
After talks with FYROM:s leadership in Skopje, Nimetz told reporters that officials in both countries appear highly motivated to reach a solution over the name within the next couple of months, with the new FYROM name most likely being a modifier to the word 'Macedonia' by adding 'Upper', 'New', or 'North' to it.
More than 250 community members attended the meeting in a tense atmosphere which led to several verbal conflicts and embarrassing incidents with some members calling themselves 'more patriot' than others.
Several fanatics booed Professor Christos Fifis, one of the community's key supporters. Mr Fifis is known for devoting his life to Greece, the Greek Australian community, and Hellenic studies. He was not allowed to share his opinion when he asked to speak, and he was forced to withdraw by those who disagreed.
One of the attendees demanding the diaspora's support verbally offended all of the elderly members of the community calling them "old".
The climate was divisive, as members that had attended the previous FYROM name rally in Melbourne ended up quarrelling with the Pan Macedonian Association's president Peter Iassonides who called their protest "faceless". By the end of the meeting, however, most representatives agreed that the protest was welcomed by the community.
President of the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria, Bill Papastergiadis, also asked everyone to support this year's Lonsdale Street Festival as it will also have a "Macedonian colour", promising to give a call-out to all Greek Australians asking them to attend the 4 March rally.
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