The Macedonian League, an international professional Hellenic advocacy group with the primary purpose of informing governments on issues concerning Greece’s national security, has sent an open letter to Professor Duncan Maskell, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Melbourne, Australia, informing the campus about a group of Skopje students who displayed the Star of Vergina on a red and black background, while referring to themselves as ‘Melbourne University Macedonian Student Society.’
The organisation stresses this was an act of “racial hatred and political advertising” with the students “further aggravating, offending, insulting and humiliating the Greek-Australian Community by posing next to Turkish flags with these illegal, expansionist flags.”
The organisation has shared the letter with GCT and you can read it in full below.
“We are writing to inform you of a serious on-campus event that has breached the peaceful coexistence of different races and ethnic groups within Australia.
A body of University of Melbourne students recently violated the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 . This group has not only challenged the sensitivities of Australian citizens of Greek descent but aimed to incite a forceful response from Greek-Australian students.
Students from the ‘Melbourne University Macedonian [sic] Student Society – MUMSS’  recently displayed the Star of Vergina  on a red background (a trademarked World Intellectual Property Organization protected symbol of the Greek Government), via a clubs and societies banner funded by the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) . Furthermore, they illegally displayed the symbol as the “flag of the country of Macedonia” [sic] and not the officially recognized, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) “flag of the country of North Macedonia .”
The tension over ownership of the Sun of Vergina arose in the early 90’s, when the government of the then Republic of “Macedonia”[sic] replaced its socialist era-flag (that bore the five-pointed star shared by all Yugoslav republics), with a new Vergina star flag, suggesting deeper historical associations and territorial claims over the land of ancient Macedonia – which is an integral part of Greece.
On 16 February 1993, the Greek Parliament passed a law establishing the “Sun of Vergina” (aka Vergina Star) as a Greek national symbol. The law did not specify the background colour to be used, which means the star cannot be used on any background to instill hatred, racism or be the subject of aggravation to others.
Illegal use of the symbol threatened regional peace and stability in the Balkan Peninsula. The UNSC accepted Greece’s objections to the name of the new country, its newly adopted flag and its expansionistic references, and did not allow the Republic of “Macedonia” [sic] to enter the UN. Only after Greece’s approval, did the Security Council (Res 817/1993) unanimously approved the new state’s accession to the UN under the provisional name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (FYROM) on 7 April 1993. The approval came with no flag hoisting rights.
In September 1995, an Interim Accord was signed that established the confidence-building measures leading to the current final Agreement between the two countries – the Prespes Agreement , signed on 12 June 2018. The new name of the FYROM is “North Macedonia” [sic].
Use of this flag has therefore been illegal since 1993 (UNSC Res. 817 and 845), and its illegality has been covered by articles 2.3 of the Interim Accord and Article 3 of the Prespes Agreement.
The question we are therefore asking is: why did the students illegally use a Greek national symbol and not the official flag, name, and symbol of their republic?
The answer is simple: racial hatred and political advertising.
The Racial Vilification Act defines racial hatred as being unlawful to insult, humiliate, offend, or intimidate another person or group in public based on their race. Specifically, the Act states: It is unlawful for a person to do an act in public, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people, and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour, or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group.
A variety of acts can constitute racial hatred, including speaking, singing and making gestures in public, as well as drawings, images, and written publications such as newspapers, leaflets, and websites.
The student photos and their actions illustrated here, clearly offend, insult, and humiliate the Greek Community and are in direct violation of the Act. They have also violated the use of amenities fees, which should be used in strict accordance with the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and the Administration Guidelines made under the Act.
The students further aggravated, offended, insulted and humiliated the Greek-Australian Community by posing next to Turkish flags with these illegal, expansionist flags. The Vergina star flag was never part of their history because it represents the Hellenism of Ancient Macedonians.
Professor Maskell, UMSU operations are funded annually by the university and the government on the percentage of votes made every year at student union elections. Under the Higher Education Support Act, providers must confirm with the Australian Government that fees were spent strictly by the Act and the Representation Guidelines made under the Act, and only on allowable services and amenities.
Clearly, funding and displaying a large banner of the WIPO-protected Greek Star of Vergina due to racial hatred and for political advertising contravenes the act. The students and their union should have exercised appropriate caution and not used tax-payer funds to incite racial hatred.
We are therefore requesting that The University of Melbourne urgently investigates this on-campus breach of the Racial Discrimination Act and the Department of Education and Training investigates these allegations of non-compliance under the Higher Education Support Act 2003.
We also want to be advised on the outcome of these allegations and any penalties to be applied for breaching these requirements as soon as possible.”
Department of Communications
The Macedonian League
About the Macedonian League
We are an international professional Hellenic advocacy group. Our primary purpose is to advance our interests to informed and responsive governments on issues concerning Greece’s national security and territorial integrity.
As of 12 February 2019, the Macedonian League’s main focus is on the “Prespes Agreement”, as this Agreement is a serious national security issue that threatens the territorial integrity of Greece and the regional stability of the Balkans.
The Macedonian League also focuses on exposing and combating anti-Hellenism and analyzing political developments in Skopje.