Adelaide-Athens sister city relationship push gets green light

Prof Stampolidis Acropolis Museum Nov 2022

Adelaide and Athens would become sister cities under a joint proposal by SA-BEST and the State Government and are now being considered by the City of Adelaide.

SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank together have written to Adelaide Lord Mayor, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith – together with a letter on behalf of the State Government written by Consumer and Business Affairs Minister Andrea Michaels - outlining the significant economic, business, and cultural benefits that could be achieved with the establishment of a sister city program/relationship between Adelaide and the Greek capital city.

If approved – which Connie and Frank are confident the proposal will - it would be only the second sister city relationship Adelaide has entered since the turn of the century.

EditedConnie Frank Shoot 20
Adelaide-Athens sister city relationship push gets green light 1

Connie said: “Adelaide and Greece share a strong and undeniable bond - the foundations of which were laid in the 1950s and 60s when thousands of Greek migrants sailed out to Australia and called Adelaide home.

“That proud influence is today found wherever you travel throughout South Australia – and is something we believe can only be made stronger should a sister city program be established,” she said.

“Last year, the city of Athens welcomed more than 40 million tourists. To put that in perspective, Australia - as an entire nation - attracts around nine million tourists annually.

“But the benefits do not just stop at investment and tourism opportunities for our state.

“We believe a well-supported and well-managed sister city program between Adelaide and Athens will realise many wonderful opportunities for trade, tourism, education, science, and economic investment between the two countries.”

Frank said: “So strong are the ties between the two cities, visionary former Labor Premier, the late Don Dunstan, once dubbed Adelaide the Athens of the South.

“The potential benefits of such a collaborative program cannot be underestimated from an Adelaide/local perspective,” he said.

“The Greek economy is rebounding strongly from the fiscal crisis of previous decades. As a direct result, international corporations - including from Australia - are investing in construction and energy projects in Greece.

“Australia is now looking at increasing skilled migration to meet demands required of industry. Greece is a highly educated and skilled society that strongly emphasises schooling. English is taught as a second language in many schools and universities.

“A free trade agreement is about to be finalised between Australia and the European Union, which has the potential to introduce significant business opportunities between the two cities.”

Connie and Frank said they – and the government - were not alone with our support for a sister city program between the two flourishing cities.

In meetings held in Athens last November with Mr Pangallo, Mayor of Athens, Kosta Bakoyiannis; the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Development and Investments, Dr Christos Dimas; and Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis, the Director General of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, all expressed a desire in strengthening ties between Greece and South Australia, where there is a large proportion of the population (more than 150,000) with some form of Greek heritage.

Professor Nikolaos Stampolidis, Mayor Bakoyiannis and Dr Dimas have also expressed their appreciation for the support shown by the South Australian parliament in demanding the UK Government and the British Museum return to Greece and reunify the Parthenon Sculptures (Elgin Marbles) as well as recognise the strong cultural, trade and economic links between our two countries.

Mayor Bakoyiannis Athens 2022
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Frank said: “I know through talking with him personally that Mayor Bakoyiannis is supportive of a sister city program as he sees it as an innovative way to further strengthen the economic, business, cultural and heritage ties between the two cities.

“Among his interests are exploring the many green energy innovations being developed in South Australia and at Lot 14, waste management developments, efficient and low emission transport options, our reputation for good governance, and our planning initiatives, including high-density living and social housing,” he said.

“Dr Dimas is interested to learn more about the exciting and dynamic science and innovation environment at Lot 14, having established similar entrepreneurial and innovation hubs in Athens and the city of Thessaloniki.”

Connie revealed the proposal also has the support of the recently re-established Hellenic Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s new SA chapter – or HACCI SA for short, which boasts more than 200 members and continues to grow.

“South Australia also has a proud and strong history of Greek migrants contributing strongly to its development and growth – HACCI SA is a most recent example of that,” Connie said.

“HACCI SA is committed to supporting and promoting the sister city program as one of its key objectives and principles. It is excited about the ongoing opportunities this could deliver to the broader SA community.

“This is yet another indication of the strong influence Greece has had on our state and city – something that could only prosper with a sister city relationship between the two great cities.”

In her letter to Lord Mayor Lomax-Smith in support of the proposal, Ms Michaels said: “Adelaide and Athens share cultural bonds that have existed since the mass migration of Greeks to South Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

“Through the establishment of a sister city relationship, we can build upon those bonds”.

“I am of the view that a sister city relationship between Adelaide and Athens will result in many positives for trade, tourism, education, science, and economic investment between the two countries,” she said.

“We look forward to your favourable support of this proposal.”

At its meeting on Tuesday night, Adelaide City Council gave the green light to the proposal, recommending its administration enter discussions with Athens about a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

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