Whittlesea Mayor Emilia Sterjova outraged the Greek community when she appeared in a Facebook post to congratulate students of the “Macedonian language”.

She spoke of the benefits of the “study of language”, however the fact that she held a flag with the sun of Vergina while talking about the ‘Macedonian’ language prompted an outcry.

She wrote: “The study of language has many benefits, including the preservation of our stunning cultural diversity. 6 years ago, I graduated from Macedonian school also and have seen how language has helped me better connect to our community. It’s important to be proud of your heritage. ♥️ честитки студенти! 👏”

Her post was followed by hundreds of comments calling for her to either step down or apologise for using a Greek symbol to promote another culture.

Dimosthenis Manasis wrote, “Wrong flag mayor. Perhaps your personal preference, but completely unacceptable and inexcusable in the office you hold. It should be retracted and an apology issued.”

Hundreds of comments followed with the Greek and North Macedonian community at odds with each other underneath the divisive post.

There are two Greek members in the council of Whittlesea: Kris Pavlidis and Mary Lalios.