Page 1739 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 April 2009

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sanction. Certainly in the past the suggestion has been that the sanction would be no confidence, but whether or not that is appropriate in all circumstances I think is something worthy of further discussion. So I put that out there, and I am sure that other members will have strong and probably diverse views on the matter.

Greek Independence Day

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (6.45): Mr Speaker, last Saturday night I had the pleasure, along with my colleague from the other side Ms Porter, of being a guest of the Greek Orthodox Community and Church of Canberra and District at the celebration of Greek Independence Day at the Hellenic Club. I was honoured to be in the company of His Excellency Mr George Zois, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic, Father George Carpis, parish priest of St Nicholas Church in Canberra, Mr Theo Dimarhos, President of the Hellenic Club, and other distinguished guests of around 600 people.

The community president Mr Emilio Konidaris told the assembled guests about the importance of 25 March in modern Greek history. It was on this day back in 1821 that the Greeks began a revolution against the Ottoman empire that led to freedom and independence after 400 years of occupation.

Mr John Kalokerinos, a multitalented member of the Greek community, was also the MC and he gave me some interesting information that I would like to share with you. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 marked the end of the Byzantine sovereignty and the beginning of Ottoman rule in Greece. It was 400 years before Greece would gain its independence. It was the determination of the Greeks that kept their traditions, culture, language and religion alive during those 400 years. Many attempts were made at gaining Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, but it was the revolution and eight-year war of independence which finally brought it about.

The bravery of a number of great figures was crucial. Among them were Theodoros Kolokotronis, a great Greek general and one of the main leaders in the war of independence, also Georgios Karaiskakis, who was a famous military commander and hero and died in battle in 1827. As a soccer fan, I note that Karaiskaki Stadium in Pireus, Greece, was named after him, as he was mortally wounded in the area, which is coincidentally where the Olympiakos football team play today.

The struggle for independence was supported by intellectuals and men of letters abroad, most significantly by Lord Byron, one of the great European poets. Byron left Italy in July 1823 to aid the Greeks in their fight against the Ottoman Turks. Byron went to Greece but fell ill during the war and died on 19 April 1824. Although his body is buried in England, his heart lies in Greece. In fact, it has been said that had Byron lived he might have been declared the king of Greece. It is worth noting that Byron was also a bitter opponent of Lord Elgin’s removal of the Parthenon marbles from Greece and “reacted with fury” when Elgin’s agent gave him a tour of the Parthenon during which he saw the missing sculptures. As many members will be aware, the marbles remain in the British Museum today, and the fact that they have not yet been returned remains a great injustice. Byron’s depth of feeling about Greece is well reflected in his poem The Isles of Greece:

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