Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Above: Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios, discusses the activities of the Federation with His Excellency, the Governor of Victoria, Professor David de Kretzer.
As an integral member of the Rally Organising Committee, Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios, gave a rousing address which electrified the crowd. The Panepirotic Federation of Australia is committed to co-operating with the Pan-Macedonian Federation of Australia, in order to ensure that the historical and cultural integrity of the Macedonian identity is not compromised in Australia.
PANEPIROTIC FEDERATION OF AUSTRALIA KOSTAS KALYMNIOS' ADDRESS AT THE MACEDONIA RALLY 18 NOVEMBER 2008.
“My fellow Macedonians. Here we are, at the steps of the bastion of democracy, before a very Hellenic in concept institution and in architecture building, as Macedonians. Truly that is what we are. For in the ancient Greek dialect of Macedonia, the word Macedonian, Makednos, signified that person who stood lean and tall.
This is what we are doing here today as Macedonians, standing tall, standing firm, committing ourselves to the concepts of pluralism, tolerance and multiculturalism that make this country and this state, so great. Let us not forget that the first institutor of multiculturalism was that great Hellene, the King of Macedonia and half the world, Alexander the Great. A man who spread Hellenism as far as India.
We stand here today, as descendants of Philip, the King of Macedonia, who united his Greek compatriots in a struggle against totalitarianism and for liberty and freedom.
And we also stand here today, as descendants of the great Macedonian philosopher Aristotle the author of the great work Politics, in which he describes all the political institutions of his time, which are the precursors of this Parliamentary institution. Aristotle taught us and the rest of the world to weigh our words carefully, to speak responsibly, with the force of truth and stand up for what is right.
We are here because every fibre of our being is as Macedonian as it is Australian, because as the great Macedonian Saint of the Orthodox Church, Gregory Palamas stated, it is only through contemplation that we are granted a glimpse of the eternal truth.Our eternal truth is that of our existence.
We are Greeks, the Greeks of Macedonia, THE Macedonians and have always been so, since the dawn of civilization itself.
Now there are those who in this tolerant country, this haven of peace and social cohesion, this harbour of humanity, who would deny us our right to call ourselves by our name, who would deprive us of our right to our own identity. And they would do so based on incorrect, misguided or deliberately usurped so-called information and cultural capital.
To these people we say:
NO one can usurp our identity.
Not many people know this but our Australian links with Macedonian Hellenism are venerable ones. Australian citizens fought in the Greek Army for the liberation of Macedonia from the Ottomans. Australian soldiers also fought to protect the Greek province of Macedonia during the First World War. Tens of Australian nurses set up their makeshift clinics and hospitals in Macedonia, tending the Greek and Australian wounded. Today, the monument honouring fallen Australian soldiers in the capital of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, is a place of pilgrimage and reverence for all Greek-Australians.
Given this special relationship between Australia and Greece, we applaud the respectful and considered stance of the Government and the Opposition as to the issue of the naming of the Former Yugoslav Republic. We applaud the fact that our government encourages dialogue and supports a solution that both sides will find acceptable. We thank our government and the opposition for their balanced stance, which promotes tolerance, cohesion and solidarity in a troubled world.
Yet today, as we stand here in front of this Hellenic façade, designed for a Hellenic purpose, that of free speech, liberty and democracy for all, we the Macedonian community of Australia, as one united Greek-Australian voice say: That the only solution is one that recognises the unique Greek provenance of the term Macedonia.
That Macedonia, as a geographical entity, is not an acceptable name for a state that does not partake of the 4000 year old rich cultural history of Macedon and instead would usurp our own.From the government and the opposition, we would seek more than just assurances about their stance as to the name. We seek understanding and knowledge of what it is that makes the word Macedonia so dear, so important to us, so intrinsic to our own Hellenic identity.
For to do so is to descend to the core of what it is to be a Greek and by us being here today, reveling and rejoicing in our Macedonian identity, we have never been more Australian than now. Our diggers have taught us that.
Finally, to those who would assume our identity, and you know who I am talking about - the people who use our Kings’ Names on their airports, who have attempted to use our landmarks on their currency and who publish maps in which they occupy half of Greece, to those who would make light of it or disregard it as unimportant, we say only that which we hold sacrosanct and holy, we say only this:That you will not take our name in vain.
And you know why?
Because we are Macedonian,
We are Greek
and we are goddamn proud.”
The founding conference of the Youth League of Epirus
SAE Oceania President Mr Kostas Vertzayias, Panepirotic Federation of Australia President, Mr Dimitrios Varnas, President of the Committee of Solidarity for the Greeks of Northern Epiros, the late Mr Spiros Stamoulis and Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios discussing the construction of the Polytechnic College at Argyrokastron, having donated the sum of $150,000 to the Orthodox Church of Albania for this purpose.
Mr Andrew Athens, Former World President of SAE, announces the donation by the Panepirotic Federation of Australia of the sum of $150,000 for the purposes of constructing the Polytechnic College at Argyrokastron, flanked by former SAE Oceania President, Mr Kostas Vertzayias, Panepirotic Federation of Australia President, Mr Dimitrios Varnas, President of the Committee of Solidarity for the Greeks of Northern Epirus, the late Mr Spiros Stamoulis and Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios.
The College provides technical courses that permit its students to learn trades that they can utilise within Albania. It operates, albeit with heavy restrictions as a beacon of hope for the youth of the region. Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary Mr Kostas Kalymnios visited the College in December 2006, and conducted classes there.
Installing kitchen training equipment for trainee hands by crane.
Prior to the construction of the Argyrokastron campus, the College was housed in this building, adjacent to the village church in Dervitsani, the hometown of our former President, the late Mr Spiros Stamoulis. Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios visited this campus in 2004 and conducted classes there.
SUPPORT FOR OMONOIA AND THE UNION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS PARTY
The Union for Human Rights Party (Albanian: Partia Bashkimi për të Drejtat e Njeriut, Greek: Κόμμα Ένωσης Ανθρωπίνων Δικαιωμάτων) is a centrist party in Albania. The party was founded in 1992 to represent Albania's ethnic Greek and other minority populations as the continuation of the Democratic Union of the Greek Minority (Omonoia). The Unity for Human Rights Party joined a Socialist-led coalition in 1997. In the 2001 elections it received 2.6% of the vote and three members of parliament. At the last elections in July 2005 it received 4.1% of the vote and two seats in parliament. The party leader is Vangelis Doules, while party member Vasilis Bolanos is the current mayor of the town of Cheimarra.
The Panepirotic Federation of Australia fully supports this party and applauds its efforts to tirelessly represent the Greeks of Northern Epirus. Owing to the nebulous state of Albanian democracy, this is not always easy and especially in Cheimarra, its activists are subject to constant intimidation and persecution.
In 2004, Panepirotic Federation of Australia, Mr Kostas Kalymnios attended the annual party conference of the Union for Human Rights Party at its offices in Tiranë, Albania. Pictured are Mr Themis Kaisis, eparch of Mesopotamo, Mr Vasilis Bolanos, mayor of Cheimarra and Mr Margaritis Ntais.
Without a doubt, the Orthodox Church of Albania has been the single most regenerative factor in alleviating the plight of the Greeks of Northern Epirus, and all Orthodox Christian Albanians, who under the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, were serverly punished for adhering to their religious beliefs. The Panepirotic Federation of Australia regularly contributed to appeals with a view to restoring and rebuilding the historic churches of Northern Epirus.
On 13 April 1996, the Panepirotic Federation of Australia and its constituent member, the Committee of Solidarity for the Greeks of Northern Epirus raised $95,000 in its Holy Saturday appeal. Of this amount, $22,000 was donated to the Church "Dormition of the Theotokos" in Dervitsiani, for the purposes of restoring its iconostasis. The remaining $73,000 was delivered to His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios by Committee members Mr Yiannis and Mrs Maria Plessas, to be applied for the purposes of reconstructing churches, where required. Above, members of the Committee, Mr Korosidis and the late Mr Gonopoulos present Father Michalis Dakos with the cheque.
Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios, with Father Nikodimos of Argyrokastron, outside the church at Kossovitsa, in 2004. The Panepirotic Federation of Australia commissioned a requiem mass, in memory of the departed relatives of all Northern Epirote migrants to Australia.
The Panepirotic Federation of Australia pays homage and owes a great debt of gratitude to His Beatitude, Archbishop Anastasios of Tiranë and Albania for his guidance, blessing and for his miraculous pastoral care of all citizens of Albania, regardless of ethnicity or religious persuasion. In this picture, taken in 2001, His Beatitude discusses his vision for a harmonious and tolerant Albania with current Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios.
Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Mr Kostas Kalymnios had an audience with His Beatitude, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, in which he obtained his blessing for the Federation and discussed aspects of the spiritual needs of Greeks living abroad.
Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary, Kostas Kalymnios, also met with the leader of PASOK and former foreign minister of Greece, Mr Georgios Papandreou, with whom he discussed the history of the Federation and its aspirations for the future.
Panepirotic Federation of Australia Secretary Kostas Kalymnios with an old friend: the heroic mayor of Cheimarra, Vasilis Bolanos
He is famous for two books of autobiographical memoirs Eleni and A Place for Us. The first describes the life of his family in Greece during the Second World War and Greek Civil War. The second relates their experiences as immigrants in 1950s America in the city of Worceste, Massachusetts.
In 1985 his story Eleni was made into a feature film starring John Malkovich as Gage.
Gage also worked as an Investigative Reporter for a number of years. During this period he covered the mafia. After his work with the mafia, he wrote a book, "The Mafia is not an Equal Opportunity Employer." The book covered the origin of the mafia and a history of the American mafia until 1970. It has since been revised and is now called "Mafia, USA."
He is also credited as an executive producer of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather III. Mr. Gage is a recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence.
The Panepirotic Federation of Australia is a member of the Justice for Cyprus Organising Committee (Σ.Ε.Κ.Α). Since 1974, Turkish troops illegally occupy the northern third of the island, in an attempt to create a pseudo-state on racial lines. The Federation feels this keenly as just like Cyprus, so too is Epirus divided. Northern Epirus is within the borders of Albania and this has had heinous consequences for the rights of the Greeks in that region. For this reason, the Panepirotic Federation actively takes part in the annual Justic for Cyprus rally and lobbys politicians and members of the community so as to ensure that all are made aware of the travesty of justice and international law that is the continuing occupation of the island.
Federation President Mr DImitris Varnas with the Justice for Cyprus Banner, donated to the Justice for Cyprus Organising Committee.
Federation Secretary Kostas Kalymnios address the Justice for Cyprus rally in July 2007.
Epirotes throughout the world commemorate 21 February 1913 as the day that Greek troops liberated Ioannina, the capital of Epirus from Ottoman troops. We also celebrate 17 February 1914, the date that Giorgos Christakis Zografou, former foreign minster of Greece, declared the autonomy of Northern Epirus.
His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis at the Panepirotic Federation of Australia's commemoration of the liberation of Eprius and declaration of autonomy of Northern Epirus.
However, it was a part of the Empire that had been in constant revolutionary turmoil since the beginning of the century. The north of Epirus was steeped in chaos as Albanian bands roamed the countryside, plundering Greek villages and murdering their inhabitants, taking advantage of the lax Ottoman presence in the region. In the southern, more developed regions, security and persecution became tighter and tighter, as enlightened Greek educators and patriots became more vociferous in their demands for the liberation of Epirus and its integration with the kingdom of Greece.
Revolt in Epirus seemed to be a matter of time. The harsh, barren and mountainous terrain of Epirus bred a hardy and independent people, determined to retain their identity. Having the largest percentage of migration in the whole of the Greek world, Greek migrants such as Tositsas, Averof, Zappas and Zosimas, who created great fortunes in Romania, had over the past century, begun to build schools in Epirus, churning out teachers and intellectuals who, influenced by the enlightenment and the rise of nationalism, began openly to conceive Epirus as an integral part of the new Greek state.
Epirus as well had a tradition of resistance and revolution against the Ottomans. Throughout the years of Ottoman rule, the region was perpetually revolting against the conquerors. From the revolts of Kastriotis in the fifteenth century, those of Kladas in the sixteenth, the great revolt of the bishop Dionysios in the seventeenth century which culminated in the expulsion of Greeks from the citadel at Ioannina as well as the resistance of Souli and the revolt of Ali Pasha against the Sultan, Epirus was constantly enmeshed in the throes of revolution.
Secret societies began to be formed, such as the “Epirotic Society” founded by the northern Epirot guerilla leader Spiros Spyromilios in 1908, who lobbied the Greek government to co-ordinate the various Greek rebel movements into a coherent force and train them for revolution. Approximately 15,000 weapons were smuggled into Epirus and distributed by the Society, until an embargo on arms was imposed by the Greek government in 1909, in an effort to improve Graeco-Turkish relations. Almost immediately, the Ottoman government recognized Epirus as primarily an Albanian region and encouraged Albanian and Vlachophone bands to attack Greek villages. Attacks on the villages of Zagoria near Ioannina were especially brutal. During the whole of this time, the Society, cut off from aid by a pliant and weak Greek government, managed to keep the peace, destroying many marauding bands and effectively guarding villages against attack. The contribution of the clergy, especially the bishop of Konitsa, Spyridon who later became a minister o the independent state of Northern Epirus and archbishop of Athens, helped to keep the flame of Hellenism alive during this difficult period, while continuing efforts to reconcile all sides.
Despite this, the Ottoman government, realizing its European empire was crumbling, decided to play one side off the other. Secret plans were discovered, revealing that the Ottomans were preparing to grant autonomy to the Albanians, giving them territory stretching from Kosovo in the north and encompassing the whole of Epirus. Protests ensued all over Epirus and the Greeks and Albanians who had fought together against the Ottomans for centuries finally decided they could not make common cause together, totally divided by their competing national claims.
In the meantime, the first Balkan War broke out on 4 October 1912. The Balkan states of Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria decided to share the European Ottoman Empire between them, driving the Ottomans out of the Balkans. It was secretly decided that Greece should proceed north into Epirus and push on to Monastiri in Macedonia to link up with Serbian forces.
Epirus once again found itself in turmoil. Bands of volunteers spontaneously formed guerrilla groups in northern Epirus, while in the south, the inhabitants of the historic bastion of Greek independence, Souli, began to place large areas of the countryside under their control. Still more volunteers crept south into Greece, to join the Greek army.
Spy units were formed within Ioannina, the capital of Epirus, which effectively reported the movement of Ottoman troops. Esat Pasha, the governor of Epirus realized that the population was fervently espousing independence. Nevertheless, he treated the populace kindly and with respect, never seeking to promote outbursts of persecution or violence, which usually accompanied revolutionary struggles. “My father was a friend of Esat Pasha,” Dorothea Tsombou recalls. “He always said Esat was more Greek than Turkish. Educated in Ioannina, a fluent Greek speaker, he genuinely loved the city.”
Esat was also secure in the knowledge that Ioannina, gateway to the north was guarded by 30,000 troops, stationed on the mountain of Bizani, Heavily fortified, it blocked all passage to the north and was deemed an insurmountable obstacle to the Greek army. By contrast, the Greek Epirus division, numbering 8,000 troops and supported by one infantry company was decidedly weak in provisions and weaponry. It was considered that the Greeks could be held up and allowed to waste away at Bizani, slowing the Greek advance into Macedonia.
The Greek army did celebrate early successes. It liberated Arta on 11 October 1912, advancing to Preveza on 21 October. In the meantime, Spyromilios landed at Cheimarra in Northern Epirus and proceeded to liberate the region. Despite fierce Albanian reprisals, Spyromilios managed to retain control of the region and proceed to liberate other areas of northern Epirus.
However, the advance of the Greek army began to slow. On 31 October, Metsovo was taken, with the help of Italian volunteers. Successive Ottoman counterattacks kept the Greeks holed up at Metsovo. In one of these attacks, the famous Greek poet, Lorentzos Mavilis was killed. Similarly, the Greek advance through Paramythia was also halted by a combined Ottoman and Albanian force.
At this crucial stage in the war, threatened with virtual disintegration, the Greek high command, decided on a three pronged all out attack against the formidable defences at Bizani. Throwing all their strength against the mountain, the Greeks were able to dislodge the Ottomans from a few strategic points, with heavy casualties. However, this maneuvre all but destroyed the Greek divisions, as the Turks were able to counterattack with great effectiveness, causing great loss of life. The undisciplined Greek army was forced to retreat in panic. In desperation, the Greek government appealed to the Ottomans for a cease-fire at he council of London. This was denied as the Ottomans by now believed they were winning the war in Epirus and it was only a matter of time before the Greek army in Epirus would disintegrate from exhaustion.
The Greek high command decided to detach two divisions from the Macedonian front, a total of 10,000 men. While this force did much to relieve the beleaguered Greek forces and finally did tip the scale in favour of the Greeks at Bizani, it had far reaching consequences. The delay at Epirus and the weakening of the Macedonian army meant that the Greek advance into Macedonia was delayed and only achieved at great cost. The Serbs bore the brunt of most of the fighting in northern Macedonia alone and were ultimately were forced to advance and take Monastiri before the Greeks arrived there. As a result, this city of 200,000 Greek inhabitants has remained outside of Greece ever since.
In the meantime, Crown Prince Constantine assumed control of operations in Epirus. To the north, the Greek guerillas were occupied in the fight against the Albanians and could not be of any assistance at Bizani. Hostility soon broke out among the High Command. General Sapountzakis, the commander of the Epirus army resented the fact that Prince Constantine had assumed command. He also could not tolerate criticism of his wasteful strategy of throwing men at the best defended strategic points of Bizani. Prince Constantine decided to direct the Greek forces to the west of the mountain, hoping to smash through the weaker Ottoman lines there.
The attack took place on 7 January 1913 and while losses were significant, the Greek forces managed to struggle through the Ottoman lines, in much heavy hand to hand fighting. Having dislodged the Ottomans from part of the mountain, General Sapountzakis ordered yet another attack on Bizani. Again this met with total failure. Prince Constantine then sent a personal letter to Esat Pasha, exhorting him to surrender Ioannina. Believing he was negotiating from a position of strength, Esat Pasha rejected this exhortation outright. In desperation, Prince Constantine urgently requested reinforcements to be drawn from the Macedonian army. Prime Minister Venizelos, striving to push on and take Thessaloniki before the Bulgarians refused.
Instead, Prince Constantine planned a two pronged attack on formidable Bizani, to be preceded by a decoy attack, while troops stationed at Kerkyra would land at Agioi Saranta in Northern Epirus and swoop down behind the Ottoman army, encircling Ioannina and liberating the whole of Epirus. On 19 February, the Greek army began once more3 to bombard the Ottoman positions. This was a feint, designed to draw out and exhaust the Ottomans and was effective. The next day, Greek divisions stormed various Ottoman positions. Ignoring their orders, which were to hold the captured positions and establish camp, two divisions fought their way to the village of Rapsista, on the outskirts of Ioannina and opposite the Ottoman command post. They remained there at night, not realizing that Esat Pasha had already raised a white flag over his post.
On the next day, 21 February 1913, Esat Pasha called upon Metropolitan Gervasios of Ioannina and informed him that he intended to surrender the city. After several negotiations with Prince Constantine, it was agreed that the entire defending force would be surrendered to the Greeks. At 5:30 am, Greek guns were ordered to stop firing. The next day, the triumphant Greek army entered Ioannina with Prince Constantine, amid frenzied celebrations by the Greek inhabitants.
Panagiota Pavlou who was at the nearby village of Perama, at 96 still remembers: “We had been used to the sounds of bombardment coming from Bizani. The guns suddenly stopped. Moments later, we could hear the sounds of church bells from Ioannina, ringing ceaselessly. Everyone understood. We all poured out of our homes and into the village square, dancing with joy. The men tore their fezzes from their heads and trampled them into the dust. The few Turks that lived in our village were boarded up in their houses and were crying. They knew they would have to leave soon.”
The liberation of Ioannina, the first major success of the Balkan War was celebrated with jubilation in Athens, a welcome relief after the tension felt by the Greek people during the siege at Bizani. However, the war in Epirus was not over yet. Part of the Ottoman garrison refused to surrender and retreated north. Two divisions immediately left in pursuit. On 23 February, Leskoviki was liberated and the Greek army proceeded to liberate the whole of Northern Epirus, entering its capital, Argyrokastro on 3 March.
While the Greek army was readying itself to liberate other areas with significant Greek populations in Albania, Prime Minister Venizelos ordered them to remain behind what became known as the Northern Epirus line, which was to mark the northern limit of Greece’s border, given that Italy declared its intention to oppose Greece by force if it should liberate the port of Avlona.
The liberation of Ioannina and all of Epirus on 21 February 1913 is commemorated with great ceremony in Greece every year. However, Northern Epirus would soon be forcibly detached from the Greek state and become an autonomous nation. After the First World War, its 400,000 Greek inhabitants would be left at the mercy of the newly established state of Albania, to suffer persecution at the hands of the totalitarian communist regime. In any event, the liberation of Epirus marks the apex of Greece’s confidence and success as a Balkan nation and a significant step in the realisation of the Great Idea of liberating the whole Greek world, an ideology which would dominate Greek politics and have far reaching consequences for the nation for the next thirty years.
PROPERTY tycoon Spiros Stamoulis passed away on Friday 11 May following a long battle with cancer. A very successful businessman, who made his fortune first via his company Gold Medal Soft Drinks and then through property investment, Mr Stamoulis was best known to the Greek community as the man behind 3XY Radio. He made an incredible contribution to the Greek community, his most recent gift the Melbourne Hellenic Museum, which was set up in honour of his late daughter Nafsika and launched last month by Greek Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. His shrewd business style made him one of Melbourne's leading property developers and earned him a spot in the Business Review Weekly's Annual Rich List.
Two former presidents proudly keeping the Greek flag and the flag of Northern Epiros flighing high. Left: the late Sotiris Papazisis, who died in September 2005. Right: the late Spiros Stamoulis, who died in May 2007. They are sorely missed by all members of the Panepirotic Federation of Australia.
Το Σεπτέμβριο του 2005, χάσαμε τον πρόεδρο μας και πλαίμαχο στέλεχος της Πανηπειρωτικής Ομοσπονδίας κ. Σωτήριο Παπαζήση.
Παραθέτουμε άρθρο του γραμματές μας Κώστα Καλυμνιού που δημοσιεθτηκε στην εφημερίδα "Νέος Κοσμος" στις 29 Σεπτεμβρίου 2005, γύρω από τη ζωή του αείμηνστου Σωτήρη Παπαζήση:
Εκ της Πανηπειρωτικής Ομοσπονδίας Αυστραλίας
Can a person’s life begin with a prophecy, given almost two hundred years before his birth? A rugged and fierce St Kosmas preaches to the inhabitants of the small village of Kossovitsa in Northern Epirus. Suddenly, he looks up at the mountains surrounding the village and his eyes glaze over. Slowly and distinctly, he pronounces these words: “This village will be girdled by a vast wire.” At the time no one paid any attention. Years later, a villager who remembered the Saint’s words wrote them down, adding in commentary, that the prophecy meant that “something bad will eventually happen to our village.” Something bad did indeed happen to Kossovitsa, as well as the rest of Northern Epirus. For it was girdled by a vast length of electric fences and barbed wire by the Albanian government that would not let anyone in or out for fifty years. It was in this village, a Byzantine settlement nestled between the foothills of Mount Mourgana that Petros Petranis was born in 1930. Born in a time and place were anything could happen and most often did, his is a most remarkable life including such episodes as: being sent to Tirana at the age of seven, where he almost forgot how to speak Greek, being persecuted by the Albanian government, undertaking with his sisters at the age of fifteen a perilous border crossing and endangering his life in the process, learning of his parents’ death at the hands of Greek communists, sampling the prejudice of Greeks against refugees, learning the printing trade, working at the great hydro electrical works of Louros in Epirus and explaining these to the King, meeting the love of his life, migrating to Australia, setting up a successful printing press, being responsible for the publication of most works of Greek-Australian literature published in Australia, running his own newspaper, acting as a beacon of advice and assistance for newly arrived Greek migrants and spending countless hours assisting them and finally, spearheading the campaign for the recognition of human rights for the Greeks of Northern Epirus. Most definitely a full life. Now at the age of 73, Petros Petranis provides the Greek-Australian community with one more gift from the heart: the experience of his life and of those Epirots around him. His book «Οι Ηπειρώτες στην Αυστραλία,» (The Epirots in Australia), published by the Latrobe University National Centre for Hellenic Studies and Research is a unique contribution to the historiography of our community for many reasons. The first and most foremost is that quite simply, the Epirot community is one of the oldest and most important Greek communities in Australia. The first Greek woman to migrate to Australia was an Epirot, Catherine Plessas-Crummer, who arrived here in 1830 from Ioaninna, while there are records of Northern Epirot migrants arriving on our shoes as early as 1890. Petros Petranis, with the eye of a true historian, painstakingly thumbed through RSL records, the murky memories of the aged, a multitude of photographs, manuscripts and his own personal archive, amassed over fifty years to bring to life a community of pioneers who like George Bitsis, who introduced new business practices and a spirit of enterprise to Australia, or Giannis Lillis who pioneered the production of Greek literature in Australia, or even Petros Petranis himself, laid the foundations of the large and vibrant Greek community that was to come. Petros Petranis’ book covers only pre-Second World War migration, the task of recording the arrival of the thousands of Epirot families during the sixties and seventies being beyond the interest of even the most fastidious historian, and of small historical importance at any rate. He also traces the development of the organised Epirot community, the various organisations that were formed to provide a social structure for the newly arrived immigrants, the philanthropic societies and the political organisations. In this, Petros Petranis was a pioneer, for he was the driving force behind the trend for Greek associations to federate and combine resources. The Panepirotic Federation of Australia was one of the first of its kind, having as its aim, not only the social needs of its members but most importantly, the needs of Epirots overseas and especially in Northern Epirus. In his passion for his homeland, Petros Petranis and the Federation did not hesitate to take on governments, dignitaries and clergymen alike and demand explanations and answers. It has always been a force to be reckoned with and has gained the respect of Greece as a lobby group, despite the current consul-general’s persistent snubbing of the same. The book is not just Petros Petranis’ life’s work. His entire life is enclosed between its covers. Kyriakos Amanatidis, one of our community’s most eminent men of letters has most eloquently and humanely taken us back to the birthplace of Petros Petranis and recounted to us those events that made him the man that he is today, in the first section of the book. It is a most moving story and though I have heard it from the lips of Petros Petranis countless times, I cannot help but be moved every time I consider it. It is essentially an Australian story, a story of privation and hardship as well as redemption in a new land and a story which will strike a chord not only with his contemporaries who had similar experiences, but also with the second and third generations who are not only given a better appreciation of the conditions that caused their forebears to leave their homes but also an understanding of how the Greek community was constructed from the foundations up. In doing so, Petros Petranis’ scope is vast. He deals with the issue on a Pan-Australian level, encompassing culture, industry and social aspects. His book is of vast importance to the corpus of the recent trend of Greek-Australian historical writing. One of the things in my life that I can say I am truly proud of, is that I have known Petros Petranis from birth. I have basked in the warmth of his smile, have been challenged by his inquisitive and restless mind, fired by his passion and enjoyed him as a mentor and friend. This is nothing out of the ordinary. His fellow-villagers in Kossovitsa, though they have not seen him for fifty years, still remember him with fondness and thank him for his arrangements to obtain for them a clean water supply. His book is a generous offering to the whole community, both as a mirror and as a memorial, now that the organised community and the cause which he fought for is in its swan-song. Like many Northern Epirots, he will probably never be able to return to his homeland. Yet the lure and the song of that homeland is what enabled him to put down such firm roots in Australia and the shadow of his branches embraces all of us. The launch of the book «Οι Ηπειρώτες στην Αυστραλία», under the auspices of La Trobe, the Panepirotic Federation of Australia and the Australian-Greek Cultural League will take place on 21 March 2004 at LaTrobe University. For all of those who are interested in the history of our sojourn in this land, this book is a must.
Etymology of the name
The Greek name Epirus signifies "mainland" or "continent", to distinguish it from the Ionian islands off the Epirote coast. It was originally applied to the whole coast south to the Gulf of Patras. The name is thought to go back to Proto-Greek Aπειρος/apeiros, from an Indo-European root apero- meaning 'coast'.
Boundaries and definitions
The historical region of Epirus is generally regarded as extending from the Bay of Vlorë in Albania to the Gulf of Arta or Ambracian Gulf in Greece. Its eastern boundary is defined by the Pindus Mountains that form the spine of mainland Greece and separate Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly. To the west, Epirus faces the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea. The island of Corfu is situated off the coast but is not generally regarded as part of the province (politically it is part of the Ionian Islands province of Greece).
Geography and ecology
Epirus is a rugged and mountainous region. It is largely made up of mountainous limestone ridges, part of the Dinaric Alps, that in places reach 2,650 m. In the east, the Pindus Mountains that form the spine of mainland Greece separate Epirus from Macedonia and Thessaly. Most of Epirus lies on the windward side of the Pindus. The winds from the Ionian Sea offer the region more rainfall than any other part of Greece.
The climate of Epirus is mainly alpine. The vegetation is made up mainly of coniferous species. The animal life is especially rich in this area and features, among other species, bears, wolves, foxes, deer and lynxes.
Epirus has been occupied since Neolithic times, when hunters and shepherds inhabited the region and constructed large tumuli to bury their leaders. The tumuli had many similar characteristics to those later used by the Myceneans, suggesting a possible ancestral link between Epirus and the Mycenean civilization. Certainly, Mycenean remains have been found and even at the most important ancient religious sites in the region, the Necromanteion (Oracle of the Dead) on the Acheron river, and the Oracle of Zeus at Dodona.
The Dorians invaded Greece via Epirus and Macedonia at the end of the 2nd millennium BC (circa 1100 BC-1000 BC), though the reasons for their migration are obscure. The region's original inhabitants were driven southward into the Greek mainland by the invasion and by the early 1st millennium BC three principal clusters of Greek-speaking tribes had emerged in Epirus. These were the Chaonians of northwestern Epirus, the Molossians in the centre and the Thesprotians in the south.
Epirus and ancient Greece
Unlike most other Greeks of the time, who lived in or around city-states such as Athens or Sparta, the Epirotes lived in small villages. Their region lay on the edge of the Greek world and was far from peaceful; for many centuries, it remained a frontier area contested with the Illyrian peoples of the Adriatic coast and interior. However, Epirus had a far greater religious significance than might have been expected given its geographical remoteness, due to the presence of the shrine and oracle at Dodona - regarded as second only to the more famous oracle at Delphi.
The Epirotes though apparently Greek-speaking seem to have been regarded with some disdain by the Athenians when the latter rose to power, a fate suffered by many Greek enemies of Athens or those Greeks they considered culturally inferior to themselves. The 5th century BC Athenian historian Thucydides describes them as "barbarians" due to the fact they tried to detach Acarnania from the sphere of Athenian power and allied themselves with the Spartans to do so during the Peloponnesian War. This term was used by Athenians in a pejorative and politically motivated manner against many Greeks. The Epirote aristocracy were the Aeacidae, who claimed to be descended from Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. As well Strabo says: "and even to the present day the Thracians, Illyrians, and Epeirotes live on the flanks of the Greeks (though this was still more the case formerly than now); indeed most of the country that at the present time is indisputably Greece is held by the barbarians — Macedonia and certain parts of Thessaly by the Thracians, and the parts above Acarnania and Aetolia by the Thesproti, the Cassopaei, the Amphilochi, the Molossi, and the Athamanes — Epeirotic tribes." On the other hand, other ancient Greek and Roman writers such as Apollodorus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Frontinus, Pausanias, Ptolemy, Cassius Dio and Eutropius, describe them as Greeks. Plutarch mentions an interesting cultural element of the Epirotes regarding Achilles. In his biography of king Pyrrhus, he claims that Achilles "had a divine status in Epirus and in the local dialect he was called Aspetos." (Homeric aspetos 'unspeakable,unspeakably great,endless' (Aristotle F 563 Rose; Plutarch, Pyrrhus 1; SH 960,4). The Aeacidae established the Molossian dynasty, who built a state in Epirus from about 370 BC onwards, expanding their power at the expense of rival tribes. The Molossians allied themselves with the increasingly powerful kingdom of Macedon and in 359 BC the Molossian princess Olympias, niece of Arybbas of Epirus, married King Philip II of Macedon. She was to become the mother of Alexander the Great.
On the death of Arybbas, Alexander of Epirus succeeded to the throne and the title King of Epirus. Aeacides of Epirus, who succeeded Alexander, espoused the cause of Olympias against Cassander, but was dethroned in 313 BC. His son Pyrrhus came to throne in 295 BC, and for six years fought against the Romans in southern Italy and Sicily. His campaigns gave Epirus a new, but brief, importance and a lasting contribution to the language with the concept of a "Pyrrhic victory".
In the 3rd century BC Epirus remained a substantial power, unified under the auspices of the Epirote League as a federal state with its own parliament (or synedrion). However, it was faced with the growing threat of the expansionist Roman Republic, which fought a series of wars with Macedonia. The League remained neutral in the first two Macedonian Wars but split in the Third Macedonian War (171 BC-168 BC), with the Molossians siding with the Macedonians and the Chaones and Thesproti siding with Rome. The outcome was disastrous for Epirus; Molossia fell to Rome in 167 BC, 150,000 of its inhabitants were enslaved and the region was so thoroughly plundered that it took 500 years for central Epirus to recover fully.
Roman and Byzantine rule
The Roman invasion permanently ended the political independence of the Epirotes. In 146 BC Epirus became part of the province of Roman Macedonia, receiving the name Epirus vetus, to distinguish it from Epirus nova to the east. Its coastal regions grew wealthy from the Roman coastal trade routes, and the construction of the Via Egnatia provided a further boost to prosperity.
Epirus became the westernmost province of the Eastern Roman Empire (subsequently the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire), ruled from Constantinople when the empire was divided in two in 395 AD. When Constantinople fell to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Michael Angelos Komnenos Ducas seized Aetolia and Epirus to establish an independent Despotate of Epirus. The rulers of the Despotate controlled a substantial area corresponding to a large swathe of northwestern Greece, much of modern Albania and parts of the modern Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In 1318 Epirus was overrun by Serbs in one of a series of uprisings. Following an Albanian uprising in 1359 , in which the Despot Nicephorus II was killed, the Byzantines re-established a measure of control of the despotate by making it a vassal state. However, in 1430 the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Murad II annexed Epirus.
Ottoman rule proved particularly damaging in Epirus; the region was subjected to deforestation and excessive cultivation, which damaged the soil and drove many Epirotes to emigrate to escape the region's pervasive poverty. Nonetheless, the Ottomans did not enjoy total control of Epirus. In 1443 George Kastriotis Skenderbeis, the Epirote National Hero, revolted against the Ottoman Empire and conquered Northern Epirus, but on his death it fell to Venice. The Ottomans expelled the Venetians from almost the whole area in the late 15th century.
In the 18th century, as the power of the Ottomans declined, Epirus became a virtually independent region under the despotic rule of Ali Pasha Tepelena, an Albanian brigand who became the provincial governor of Ioannina in 1788 . At the height of his power, he controlled much of western Greece, the Peloponnese and Albania. Ali Pasha's campaigns to subjugate the confederation of the Souli settlements is a well known incident of his rule. His forces met fierce resistance by the Souliote warriors of the mountainous area. After numerous failed attempts to defeat the Souliotes, his troops succeeded in conquering the area in 1803. When the Greek War of Independence broke out, the inhabitants of the region contributed greatly, and Ali Pasha tried to make himself an independent ruler, but he was deposed and murdered by Ottoman agents in 1822.
When Greece became independent, Epirus remained under Ottoman rule. Two of the founding members of the Filiki Eteria (secret patriotic society), Nikolaos Skoufas and Athanasios Tsakalov, came from the Arta area and the city of Ioannina respectively. Greece's first constitutional prime minister (1844-1847), Ioannis Kolettis, was a native of the town of Syrrako in Epirus and former personal doctor to Vizier Ali Pasha himself.
20th century Epirus
The Treaty of Berlin of 1881 gave Greece parts of southern Epirus, but it was not until the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 that the rest of southern Epirus joined Greece. Northern Epirus was awarded to Albania by an international boundary commission. This outcome was unpopular among both Greeks and Albanians, as settlements of the two people existed on both sides of the border. Among Greeks, northern Epirus is regarded as terra irredenta. When World War I broke out in 1914 , Albania collapsed. Under a March 1915 agreement among the Allies, Italy seized northern Albania and Greece set up an autonomous Greek state of North Epirus in the southern part of the country. Although short-lived, the state of Northern Epirus managed to leave behind a number of historical records of its existence, including its own postage stamps.
Although the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 awarded the area to Greece after World War I, political developments such as the Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War and, crucially, Italian, Austrian and German lobbying in favour of Albania meant that Greece, although backed by Russia, could not claim northern Epirus. The area was finally ceded to Albania in 1924.
Italy occupied Albania in 1939 and in 1940 invaded Greece. The Italians were, however, driven back into Albania and Greece again took control of northern Epirus. The conflict, known as the Greco-Italian War, marked one of the first tactical victories of the Allies in World War II. Mussolini himself supervised the massive counter-attack of his divisions in spring 1941 , only to be decisively defeated again by the poorly equipped, but determined, Greeks. Nazi Germany intervened in April 1941 to avert an embarrassing Italian defeat. The German military performed rapid military maneuvers through Yugoslavia and forced the encircled Greek forces to surrender.
The whole of Epirus was then placed under Italian occupation until 1943 , when the Germans took over following the Italian surrender to the Allies. The highlands of Epirus became the major theatre of guerrilla inter-fighting between the communist National People's Liberation Army (ELAS) and the republican National Republican Greek League (EDES). Following the German withdrawal from Greece in 1944 , the mountains of Epirus became the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of the Greek Civil War.The current President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias, is a native of Ioannina, Epirus.
Pyrrhus was the son of Aeacides of Epirus and Phthia, and a second cousin of Alexander the Great. Prince of one of the Alexandrian successor states, Pyrrhus' childhood and youth went by in unquiet conditions. He was only two years old when his father was dethroned and the family took refuge with Glaukias, king of the Taulanti, one of the largest Illyrian tribes.
Later, the Epirotes called him back but he was dethroned again at the age of 17 when he left his kingdom to attend the wedding of Glaukias' son in Illyria. In the wars of the diadochi Pyrrhus fought beside his brother-in-law Demetrius I of Macedon on the losing side in the pivotal Battle of Ipsus (301 BC). Later, he was made a hostage of Ptolemy I Soter by a treaty between Ptolemy I and Demetrius. Pyrrhus married Ptolemy I's stepdaughter Antigone and in 297 BC, with Ptolemy I's aid, restored his kingdom of Epirus. Next he went to war against his former ally Demetrius. By 286 BC he had deposed his former brother-in-law and taken control over the kingdom of Macedon. Pyrrhus was driven out of Macedon by Lysimachus, his former ally, in 284 BC.
In 281 BC, the Greek city of Tarentum, in southern Italy, fell out with Rome and was faced with a Roman attack and certain defeat. Rome had already made itself into a major power, and was poised to subdue all the Greek cities in Magna Graecia. The Tarentines asked Pyrrhus to lead their war against the Romans.
Pyrrhus was encouraged to aid the Tarentines by the oracle of Delphi. His goals were not, however, selfless. He recognized the possibility of carving out an empire for himself in Italy. He made an alliance with Ptolem Ceraunus, King of Macedon and his most powerful neighbor, and arrived in Italy in 280 BC.
He entered Italy with an army consisting of 3,000 cavalry, 2,000 archers, 500 slingers, 20,000 infantry and 20 war elephants in a bid to subdue the Romans.
Due to his superior cavalry and his elephants he defeated the Romans, led by Consul Publius Valerius Laevinus, in the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. There are conflicting sources about casualties. Hieronymus of Cardia reports the Romans lost about 7,000 while Pyrrhus lost 3,000 soldiers, including many of his best. Dionysius gives a bloodier view of 15,000 Roman dead and 13,000 Greek. Several tribes including the Lucani, Bruttii, Messapians, and the Greek cities of Croton and Locri joined Pyrrhus. He then offered the Romans a peace treaty which was eventually rejected. Pyrrhus spent winter in Campania.
When Pyrrhus invaded Apulia (279 BC), the two armies met in the Battle of Asculum where Pyrrhus won a very costly victory. The consul Publius Decius Mus was the Roman commander, and his able force, though defeated, broke the back of Pyrrhus' Hellenistic army, and guaranteed the security of the city itself. The battle foreshadowed later Roman victories over more numerous and well armed successor state military forces and inspired the term "Pyrrhic victory", meaning a victory which comes at a crippling cost. At the end, the Romans had lost 6,000 men and Pyrrhus 3,500 but, while battered, his army was still a force to be reckoned with.
In 278 BC, Pyrrhus received two offers simultaneously. The Greek cities in Sicily asked him to come and drive out Carthage, which along with Rome was one of the two great powers of the Western Mediterranean. At the same time, the Macedonians, whose King Ceraunus had been killed by invading Gauls, asked Pyrrhus to ascend the throne of Macedon. Pyrrhus decided that Sicily offered him a greater opportunity, and transferred his army there.
Pyrrhus was proclaimed king of Sicily. He was already making plans for his son Helenus to inherit the kingdom of Sicily and his other son Alexander to be given Italy. In 277 Pyrrhus captured Eryx, the strongest Carthaginian fortress in Sicily. This prompted the rest of the Carthaginian-controlled cities to defect to Pyrrhus.
In 276 BC, Pyrrhus negotiated with the Carthaginians. Although they were inclined to come to terms with Pyrrhus, supply him money and send him ships once friendly relations were established, he demanded that Carthage abandon all of Sicily and make the Libyan Sea a boundary between themselves and the Greeks. Meanwhile he had begun to display despotic behavior towards the Sicilian Greeks and soon Sicilian opinion became inflamed against him. Though he defeated the Carthaginians in another battle, he was forced to abandon Sicily and return to Italy.
While Pyrrhus had been campaigning against the Carthaginians, the Romans rebuilt their army by calling up thousands of fresh recruits. When Pyrrhus returned from Sicily, he found himself vastly outnumbered against a superior Roman army. After the inconclusive Battle of Beneventum in 275 BC Pyrrhus decided to end his campaign in Italy and return to Epirus which resulted in the loss of all his Italian holdings.
Though his western campaign had taken a heavy toll on his army as well as his treasury Pyrrhus yet again went to war. Attacking King Antigonus II Gonatas he won an easy victory and seized the Macedonian throne.
In 272 BC, Cleonymus, a Spartan of royal blood who was hated among fellow Spartans, asked Pyrrhus to attack Sparta and place him in power. Pyrrhus agreed to the plan intending to win control of the Peloponnese for himself but unexpectedly strong resistance thwarted his assault on Sparta. He was immediately offered an opportunity to intervene in a civic dispute in Argos. Entering the city with his army by stealth, he found himself caught in a confused battle in the narrow city streets. During the confusion an old Argead woman watching from a rooftop threw a roofing tile which stunned him, allowing an Argive soldier to kill him (some reports claim he was poisoned by a servant).
While he was a mercurial and often restless leader, and not always a wise king, he was considered one of the greatest military commanders of his time. Plutarch records that Hannibal ranked Pyrrhus as either the greatest or the second greatest commander the world had seen (after Alexander the Great if the second version of the tradition is followed). Pyrrhus was also known to be very benevolent. As a general Pyrrhus' greatest political weaknesses were the failure to maintain focus and the failure to maintain a strong treasury at home (many of his soldiers were costly mercenaries).
His name is famous for the phrase "Pyrrhic victory" which refers to an exchange at the Battle of Asculum. In response to congratulations for winning a costly victory over the Romans, he is reported to have said: "One more such victory will undo me!" (In Greek: Αν έτι μίαν μάχην νικήσωμεν, απολώλαμεν.)
Pyrrhus wrote Memoirs and several books on the art of war. These have since been lost although Hannibal was influenced by them and they received praise from Cicero.