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Greek - Australian MPs concerned over comments on Macedonian naming issue


May 2017

Two South Australian politicians, State Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis and federal member for Hindmarsh Steve Georganas, have written to the Prime Minister of Australia Malcom Turnbull expressing their concerns over comments made by a NSW MP in regards to the Macedonian naming issue.

"It was with great concern and disappointment that I was made aware of statements last night by a member of your Government, Mr Craig Kelly MP, Member for Hughes in regards to the Macedonian naming issue", Mr Koutsantonis wrote.

"The disappointment is heightened by the fact, that as we approach ANZAC Day, the Greek Community in Australia is preparing to honour Australian Defence Force personnel who served alongside the HellenicArmy during the battle of Crete, with a visit from the Hellenic Presidential Guard to both South Australia and New South Wales.

"There is absolutely no doubt that the term "Macedonia" refers to the Kingdom and culture of the ancient Macedonians, which belongs to the Hellenic nation and are unquestionably part of Hellenic historical and cultural heritage.

"The Australian government has been consistent in its use of the name 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' since 1994 and must continue to observe this practice pending a mutually agreed resolution to the naming dispute between the Hellenic Republic and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

"I suggest to you respectfully Prime Minister, that your Government reaffirm Australia's position on the naming issue of the FYROM to end the hurt caused by a member of your Government to Greek Australians and the Hellenic Republic, an ally and a friend.

"The Greek community of Australia is deeply offended by these remarks, I hope you are able to quickly end this hurtful debate and reassure Greek Australians that you and your Government does not share the views of Mr Kelly", Mr Koutsantonis concludes.

The Federal Member for Hindmarsh Steve Georganas has also written and protested to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Foreign Minister July Bishop, on the issue.

Speaking on SBS radio, the Australian Minister for Industry, Arthur Synodinos said the Government's policy has not changed.

"The government has not changed its position on this issue. We have said from the outset that Greece and FYROM must agree on the issues that concern them. We, as Australia recognize this country as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" Mr. Synodinos said.


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