Key supporters of the President of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne Victoria, (GOCMV), Bill Papastergiadis, were side-lined last Monday, when Treasurer, Con Dikeos, successfully called for a spill of the GOCMV executive.

The spill saw Costa Markos replaced by Jenny Krasopoulakis as General Secretary, Dimitrios Iakovakis replaced as Vice President by Eugenia Grammatakakis, and George Kalianis was replaced by Zisi Pouros as Assistant Secretary.

The spill succeeded after a new alliance was forged between Con Dikeos and George Fountas, previously opposed to each other, giving the Kinotiki Proothos, (Community Progress) faction of George Fountas, nominal control of the GOCMV. These political machinations mirror similar events last year which secured Bill Papastergiadis the presidency, when Mr Dimitrios Iakovakis abandoned the then President George Fountas’ camp Kinotiki Proothos, (Community Progress), to join the Konitiki Ananeosi, (Community Renewal) faction.

GOCMV President Mr Papastergiadis responded to the changes in the executive by saying that he is prepared to work with everyone and that he had expressed that wish at the meeting on Monday.

“When the last spill occurred we offered the Fountas camp the opportunity to work with us as a unified board of management and they flatly refused. We asked them to share half of the positions on the board and that was out rightly rejected,” he said to Neos Kosmos English Edition (NKEE) .

Costa Dikeos said that he had initiated the spill because of his concern that transparency had been compromised by a decision to increase the GOCMV subsidy to the Antipodes Festival by $33 000 without his formal approval, as well as his desire to broaden the representation on the executive and.

“The board of management made a decision to fund the Antipodes festival to the tune of $150,000 what ultimately transpired was that the amount transferred across from to the Antipodes was $183,000. That meant that there was a breach of the board decision,” Mr Dikeos said to NKEE.

“My view is that the Antipodes Festival needs to work within a set budget “ added Mr Dikeos.

He went on to say that the decision to transfer the additional monies without consulting him as the Treasurer showed a disregard for process.

At the same time he stopped short of accusing anyone of wrongdoing, “I am not suggesting that it was done in an untoward manner, or that anything wrong occurred, it’s just the lack of process.”

Mr Papastergiadis vigorously refuted the suggestion that due process was not followed.

 “We don’t hold executive board meetings. We pass all the resolutions thorough the board. We can’t have more transparency than that,” he said.

The spill presented an opportunity to allow each of the three factions represented on the GOCMV board to be represented on the executive, according to Dikeos,
“I think what I did was to open the board to more representation from the various political factions within the GOCMV, to have such representation on the Greek Community is not such a bad thing,” Dikeos said.

Supporters of Bill Papastergiadis were strong in their backing the GOCMV President and strident in their criticism of Dikeos.

Mr Markos the General Secretary who was one of the victims of the spill underscored for NKEE that Mr Dikeos’ actions were “tainted by bitterness and jealousy” and that he had launched a pre-emptive strike with the support of Kinotiki Proothos to “undo the advances” of the last 15 months.

Securing $2million support for the proposed Greek Tower on Lonsdale Street from the Brumby Government and additional $1.5 million for the rejuvenation of Lonsdale Street, organising a “one of the most successful Antipodes Festival Glendi and garnering a $300,000 donation for Alphington Grammar and organising more than 20 well attended events” are examples of the successes the GOCMV has enjoyed since Bill Papastegriadis became President, according to GOCMV Board member and Antipodes Festival chairperson Leonidas Vlahakis.

Mr Vlahakis also raised the deep concern that all the good work by Mr Papastergiadis to reposition the Community as a professional organisation and the festival as a great success after a two year absensce could now be damaged by Mr Dikeos’ actions. He went on to say, “what do we tell Brumby now? That we are in turmoil again?”

Critics of Mr Dikeos challenged the position taken by Mr Dikeos in regards to the GOCMV subsidy for the Antipodes Festival.

Costa Markos, vehemently disputes the claim by Con Dikeos that he was not aware of the transfer of the additional $33,000.

“I have it on the record of the last GOCMV minutes that the Treasurer himself highlighted the need to increased Antipodes’ subsidy. He was definitely aware of the additional money,” Mr Markos said

Me Markos went on to underscore that a dedicated bookkeeper works with the treasurer who keeps the Treasurer informed of all transactions.

Mr Dikeos said that the bookkeeper became aware of the amount of monies transferred to the Antipodes Festival once the transaction had occurred.

NKEE found out from a GOCMV Board member that the Antipodes Glendi Festival did not exceed the $150,000 budget and that the additional $33,000 was still held in the Antipodes account. 

Asked by NKEE if he will continue to support Bill Pastergiadis as  President, Mr Dikeos gave a qualified response.

“Bill Papastergiadis is the president of the Greek Community,” Mr Dikeos said. “So for all those that feel he is doing a fantastic job they should be satisfied.”

He added, “I will review Bill’s performance by the end of the year. I have some concerns with some of the things that are going on but it’s still too early to tell.”

When suggested by NKEE that his actions may impact on the $2 million for the community centre and the  $1.5 million for the rejuvenation of Lonsdale Street, Mr Dikeos was not moved.

“ We support the Tower, as a concept but we need to look at the figures. The President was banking on $8 million but we only secured $2 million and an additional $1.5million targeted for Lonsdale Street rejuvenation.”

As Mr Papastergiadis said to NKEE, “I query why in an election year and after such success they would want to damage our strategic drive?”