Ambassador Christopoulos farewells Australia
‘I am very proud of you’ says Ambassador in special message to Greek Australians
Ambassador Alexis Christopoulos will depart from Australian shores this week after three years as the Greek Government's Head of Mission to Australia.
Speaking to Neos Kosmos as he prepared for his return to Athens, Ambassador Christopoulos had a special message to Greek Australians.
"My message to the community as I depart, is that I am very proud of you, and proud of your achievements. Never forget the principles that set you on the path you have taken."
Mr Christopoulos said that he felt the Greek diaspora in Australia were a unique breed.
"They are entirely different from other Greek diasporas around the world. It's interesting, they're much closer to the Greek mentality, though they are so far away from Greece."
Mr Christopoulos told Neos Kosmos that Australia would always hold very special memories for him.
"This country has a very positive nature. People are warm, open, and you can tell that all Australian people feel freedom passionately, which is very important.
"I expected something different before I came here," admitted the Ambassador, "something like the 'United States of Britain', or a society in between the United States and the United Kingdom, but I found something totally different."
Commenting on the traumatic events Greece experienced during his posting, Mr Christopoulos said that his work as his country's most senior diplomat in Australia had not been without its challenges.
"As an Ambassador one has to be ready to face different situations. I belong to a generation which began at the
end of WWII. This generation was always ready to face any difficulties and to get through them, so the difficulties faced by Greece recently was and is, one of these occasions.
"As a diplomat you always face a combination of having to prioritise the interests of your country with the interests of the wider world."
Mr Christopoulos says that he is thankful for the support shown to him and Greece by Australia over the past three years.
"We owe a lot to the Australian Government and to Australian politicians on all sides. They stood with us, they understood the situation, and they were always ready to help."
Will he take away one memory of an Australian location to look back on with most fondness ?
"I loved driving on the Great Ocean Road. Parts of that journey remind me so much of Greece."
Australia will be Ambassador Christopoulos' final posting. After more than 35 years of dedicated service, which saw him posted to pre-reunification Germany, the former Yugoslavia, Indonesia and Washington, the much respected 'old school' diplomat will retire from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"I am looking for new endeavours," says Mr Christopoulos.
"I feel I can give more to our society. There's much to do. A Greek can never really retire from public service, by which I mean, we are always members of society, and we must do all we can, to do our best for others."
Will the Ambassador be taking a long-deserved vacation on his return to Greece?
'I am returning to Athens and I am looking forward to spending some time in the islands, but I really don't need a vacation," says Mr Christopoulos, in the warm, generous tones typical of the man. "My profession has been my vacation."
"I've always considered my profession as if it was my hobby and that's why I have been so happy. I have the best memories. If I had a choice, I would do it all again."
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