Greek pride was sky high in Melbourne as thousands showed up for the 25 March National Day parade. For the most part, there was positivity and patriotism as 79 groups – mainly schools – paraded to the Shrine of Remembrance, however part of the parade was marred by protestors who specifically came to express their disagreement against the Greek government’s ratification of the Prespes Agreement.
The first sign of dissent came with the announcement of Greek Parliamentary Deputy George Varemenos’ name along with those of other officials present at the parade. Pockets of people scattered among the crowds began to boo as others shushed them down with statements such as, “Now is not the time and place”, and “Please, there are children present.”
The situation calmed down as schools paraded, however two groups – the Lefkos Pyrgos group from Thessaloniki and another Macedonian association – expressed their dissatisfaction in their own way during the March.
READ MORE: Greek pride at this year’s 25 March National Day Parade in Melbourne – See photos
The first group sang, “Makedonia ksakousti” with onlookers joining in, whereas the second group shouted the slogan “Ellas Makedonia”.
Tensions flared after the parade ended and the wreath-laying ceremony began. Angry crowds initially yelled “Ellas Makedonia” but it didn’t take long for them to turn the attention to Mr Varemenos, shouting out “Traitor”, “Shame on you”, “You bend down on all fours”, “Shame” and other derogatory comments.
Despite the negatively charged atmosphere, Mr Varemenos took the microphone and persevered with his speech though his voice was drowned out by the crowds. As he was leaving, two protestors threw bottles but these did not come close to or strike anywhere near the official guest.
Though there were many loud protestors, there were also a number of parents who were critical of the stand taken by anti-government groups, especially bearing in mind the presence of children at the event.
Neos Kosmos sources state the committee for the 25 National Day Parade in Melbourne had tried to retract the invitation that had been extended to Mr Varemenos at the last minute but it was too late for this to happen.