The evzones, also known as the Hellenic Presidential Guard, presence at National Day celebrations in Australia has developed into somewhat of a tradition over the past few years. But this year, the evzones will be staying put at their posts in Greece, reportedly due to a lack of funding.
“We had the promise of the Victorian state government that the evzones would be coming, but unfortunately it hasn’t been upheld,” said Antonis Tsourdalakis, general secretary of the Greek National Day celebration organising committee.
“Instead, they have told us that they are planing big things for 2021, when we will celebrate 200 years of Greek independence.”
This is in line with the announcement made by the Andrews Labor Government, ahead of the state election in 2018, when it was pledged that if Daniel Andrews were to be re-elected – which he was – that Labor would commit to bringing the Hellenic Presidential Guard back to Australia for the 25 March celebrations.
“It is a very moving, very very special occasion, and I am very honoured to be there,” Premier Andrews said, reflecting on the Evzones’ visit over the past three years.
“We will have them here as they have never been before; it will be a really special show. It will make a very poignant and emotional day for the celebration of our Greek heritage even more special.”
Meanwhile the state government said that it also planned to establish Victoria’s first $200,000 Greek Independence Festival and Events Fund, they money being allocated to community organisations to hold celebrations, events and festivals to mark the bicentenary.
“This is to make it extra special for every single person of Greek heritage, every family member, and the broader Victorian community,” Premier Andrews told Neos Kosmos, “… the biggest celebration of Independence Day outside Greece. And that makes perfect sense given that we are the biggest Greek centre; the biggest Greek city outside Greece after Athens and Thessaloniki.”