Kavala.- The sessions of the 59th Convention of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S. that took place in Kavala from 26-30 July 2005 closed with the election of the new Supreme Presidium. The until now Secretary General of the organisation Panos Spiliakos was elected unanimously President, while Nina Gatzouli was elected Vice President. Mr Hatzistephanidis was elected treasurer, while Messrs Vasilalis and Ioannidis remain legal advisors. Also elected were the governors of the regions, where the organisations of expatriate Macedonians are active in America.
The organisation’s thematic committees referred to their work, while members of the Supreme Executive Committee Sotiris Proios, Nika Gatzouli and Panos Spiliakos referred to what was done in 2004-2005.
In his address, Mr Sotiris Proios referred to the organisation’s objectives and presented in detail the work done during the last year.
“For us the world stopped in 4 November 2004 and from then on we have been working exclusively and hard for our national issue, neglecting knowingly other sectors. Truly speaking, last year was the hardest I passed as a member of the Pan-Macedonian during the last 30 years” said Mr Proios, who praised his cooperation with Messrs Gatzoulis and Spilakos, describing them a “dream team”.
Presenting the materialized programmes, he referred to the contribution of the Pan-Macedonian to the staging of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games in August 2004 and the expatriate Macedonians’ participation in the Games as volunteers.
Additionally, booklets about the Macedonian Struggle were printed for which sponsors were the Thesaloniki Prefect and the Museum of Macedonian Struggle. These booklets will be distributed to the Hellenic schools of the Archbishopric.
During the Mr Proios’ term of office, the organisation submitted proposals for the restructuring and re-organisation of the youth and the concordance of its charter with that of the Pan-Macedonian Association.
A very important initiative was a report prepared by Vasilis and Nina Gatzouli that was presented to American officials, which as Ms Gatzouli said “briefs its readers on the merciless and multidimensional propaganda of Skopje with unquestionably diachronic and expansionist objectives against our Macedonia”.
Also, the outgoing President explained that with initiative of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S., resolutions about Macedonia in various American States have been promoted.
In her report, Ms Nina Gatzouli referred especially to the report of Skopje’s propaganda in all sectors, Academic, Government, Church, as well as in the Internet, which was distributed to various government and diplomatic bodies in Hellas. The same report was translated in English and was distributed to American officials, including mediator Mr M. Nimits.
As she said, the unexpected recognition of Skopje as “Republic of Macedonia” by the American government resulted in the organisation’s immediate mobilisation, the Presidium of which held meetings with various bodies, such as the SAE and the Hellenic National Council, as well as with Federations and parts of the Man-Macedonian in Boston and New York on the issue.
Ms Gatzouli also briefed the participants of the convention on the world campaign that is in progress, for the collection of signatures, responsible for which is the Hellenic Electronic Centre. “In addition to the signatures that continue to be collected, an academic forum has been created, in which participating are about 650 Hellene academics from all over the world and whose objective is to increase the awareness of our national issues. Through this body a letter was sent to the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, which presented our views on our issue. The letter was also distributed to other political bodies” said the Vice President.
From his side, the organisation’s outgoing secretary Panos Spiliakos criticized the accusations regarding idleness, defeatism and incompetence launched against the Pan-Macedonian after the recognition of Skopje by the American government, saying that the accusations were unjust at a time when expatriate Macedonians had been ringing the alarm bell for decades and no one was listening”.
“In reply to the accusations, we made a ten-day visit to Hellas, held a series of contacts with government officials, appeared before the Parliamentary Special Standing Committee on Hellenes Abroad and participated in two densely attended public meetings, one in Athens and the other in Thessaloniki” he said.
Mr Spiliakos reported that the Hellenic government must at last state its position on the Skopje issue and not ignore the acts of the Pan-Macedonian regarding the name issue. He also scathed the strong anti-American feeling in Hellas that is becoming stronger and stronger and the Hellenic Press. “The brainless Hellene demonstrators should keep their hands off the American flag. At last you should realize that each of its stars represents the Hellenic community of the respective American state. When they burn the American flag, they burn a part of our heart” he said characteristically.
The new President of the Pan-Macedonian Association said that from now on all Macedonians all over the Globe should remain united and alert and promote the transfer of the Hellenic heritage and language and in cooperation with the Church and all bodies to create programmes for the participation of our youth that will facilitate, accelerate this transfer.
He also called the political parties in Hellas to withdraw as he said “their colorful cafes fro the Diaspora. Abroad we are few and our Mediterranean temperament does not need any additional reasons for split” he stated.
All above moves should begin from the Diaspora and not from the Hellenic National centre. If we are not willing to support our church, schools and traditions, then we are not worthy of this unique blessing that comes overhead” concluded Mr Spiliakos.
With the ratification of the charter and review of the work done in 2005, the sessions of the third day of the 59th Convention of the Pan-Macedonian Associations U.S. concluded in Kavala.
More than 60 representatives of Macedonian Associations from New York, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Texas, Chicago and Ontario, Canada presented their organisations’ work and referred to the problems they were facing, the most basic of which was the lack of new members that could re-supply the Pan-Macedonian Associations with new blood.
All spoke well of the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S. Sotiris Proios, describing their cooperation with him especially efficient. Mr Sotiris Proios received three silver copies of ancient coins found in the area from Drama, Kavala and Xanthi supra-prefect Konstantinos Tatsis as a token of gratitude, as he said to the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S.
Special reference was made to the successful course of the Macedonian Association in Philadelphia Pavlos Melas and to the association’s section for women Amalia. Their representatives Kostas Poikidis and Tina Varikaki spoke with enthusiasm about their organisations and especially about the associations’ youth contribution.
From San Fransisco, Marina Moustaka, President and founder of the Hellenic Heritage Institute spoke about the museum that operates in the Hellenic Heritage Institute and which is visited by Hellenes and foreigners. Also, she referred to the Hellenic language lessons organised for Hellene children each year. Marina Moustaka urged the participants to boost that effort and emulate from the success of the undertaking.
From Vancouver and Ontario, Canada, the representatives of the Pan-Macedonian Association Canada, which has been a separate organisation from that of the U.S. since 2001, spoke of the Macedonians’ alienation in the U.S., which resulted in the their Associations’ decline. They also referred to the fact that the Church does not help their efforts in the safeguarding of national issues such as the “Macedonian issue”.
Regarding the Megas Alexandros Foundation the headquarters of which in New York, its President Panagiotis Mitoulis delivered a speech, describing it “Knowledge Lighthouse”. “We are trying to do everything we can to keep it open” said Mr Mitoulis ringing the alarm bell for the future of the foundation, which without the moral and financial support f the rest of the expatriate Macedonians’ organizations its operation in the future will not be feasible.
In addition to the cultural events held at the Megas Alexandros Foundation Hellenic language lessons are offered, while the presidium aims at intensifying the lessons.
At the same time, Hellenic Electronic Centre President Evagelos Rigos presented the Centre’s work and objectives. As he said the HEC was a world network with more than 34,000 members, Hellenes and foreigners all over the world. With the use of technology it promoted our national issues and briefs on their latest developments.
Among the Centre’s members is a group of distinguished academics of Hellenic descent. The HEC president referred to the efforts made by the Centre to safeguard the history and name of Macedonia with the collection of thousands of signatures of individuals, who are opposed to the use of the term “Macedonia” by Skopje.
The representative of the Survival of Native Populations Foundation and Special advisor of the United Nations Finance and Social Issues Sir Malik proposed the return to the ideals taught by Alexander the Great. Sir Malik, who comes from the Kallas tribe, was moved and spoke with enthusiasm about the magnificence and glory of Alexander the Great, describing him “one of the greatest leaders of humanity”. “We must return to the teachings of history and bring back glory and learn from it” said among other things. Wearing the traditional hat that the Macedonian soldiers of Alexander the Great brought in Pakistan, he referred to the Kallas tribe, who consider themselves descendants of Alexander the Great, adding that the Kallas are a tribe that is protected by the United Nations.
THE OPENING DAY
The first day of the sessions took place in the amphitheatre of the Kavala Prefectural Local Government with the benediction conducted by Metropolite of Phillipi, Neapoli and Thasos Prokopios. Then representatives of the Macedonian organizations in Hellas and abroad made addresses, while the special Secretary of the World Federation of Pan-Macedonian Organisations and President of the Pan –Macedonian Association Melbourne-Victoria D. Minas delivered a short speech.
The scientific meeting that took place with the participation of distinguished academics, who examined the issue of the questioning of the Hellenic nature of Macedonia through history, was especially interesting. At the same time, they stressed the need for Pan-Macedonians in Hellas and abroad to rally and prepare a strategy in order to protect our homeland’s history. Participating in the convention were N. Martis, A. Lazarou, K. Fotiadis and Archbishop of America Dimitrios.
The clergy and the people of Kavala gave a warm welcome to Archbishop of America Dimitrios at the Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
Accompanied by Metropolite of Philippi, Neapoli and Thassou Prokopios, he arrived at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in order to officiate at the official Mass that took place for the opening of the sessions of the conferences.
Present at the Mass were all the local political and military authorities of Kavala and prefecture of Kavala; former ministers Dimosthenis Dimosthenopoulos and Nikolaos Martis; the President of the Drama-Kavala-Xanthi Expanded Prefectural Local Government Kostas Tatsis; Kavala Prefect Thodoros Kalliontzis; and the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S. Sotiris Proios.
After lighting a candle and bowing before Saint Paul’s icon, he read a special wish for the prosperity of Macedonians and of the whole of Hellas.
At the end of the Mass, the Metropolite of Philipi Prokopios welcomed with words of love Mr Dimitrios and the participants of the conference at the Apostolic Metropolis and Kavala. He remembered, his predecessor Archbishop Iakovos’ visit to Philipi and offered Mr Dimitrios the gold medal of the founder of the local church of Apostle Paul. He also offered the same medal to the President of the Pan-Macedonian Association U.S.
Addressing the attendants Mr Dimitrios asked from them not to remain inactive, but to be alert, underlining that “by nature we should always be alert so as to safeguard our history, traditions and Orthodoxy”.