Dr. Olga Sarantopoulos of World
Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)
Visits Hellenes of Hungary and Slovakia,
Warm Reception by Veterans of Greek Civil War


Click here for Greek version of article-release

(SAE) Dr. Olga Sarantopoulos, Secretary of World SAE visited the Greek Community of Budapest, Hungary, following an invitation of the President of the Self-Government of the Greek minority of Budapest, Mr.Spyros Agardi.

The SAE Secretary traveled to Hungary to attend a meeting with medical doctors of Hellenic descent, who live in the country. The meeting was organized with the initiative of the President of the Self-Government of the Greek minority in Budapest Mr. Spyros Agardi.

Addressing the Hellenic scientists, Dr. Sarantopoulos encouraged them to establish their own organization of specialists of Hellenic origin and join the Global Network, as well as the World Hellenic Biomedical Association, organizations of Greek scientists who live abroad, which cooperate closely with SAE and the Greek Ministry of Health. She also conveyed the wishes of SAE President Mr. Stephanos Tamvakis and the members of the SAE Board.

At a meeting in the building of the Self-Government of the Greek minority in Hungary with representatives of local Greek communities of Hungary, presided by the President of the Self- Government Mr. Laokratis Koranis, the President of the Self-Government of Budapest Mr.Spyros Agardi and in the presence of the past president Mr. Theodore Skevis, the Secretary of SAE had the opportunity to be informed on and exchange views on issues pertaining to Hellenism in the region.

Dr. Sarantopoulos visited the Hellenic school, housed in the building of the Self-Government of the Greek minority near the Parliament House and met with the director of the school Mrs. Evangelia Tsarouchis, philologist, a leading figure in the foundation of the Greek school in the city of Budapest.

Today in the Greek afternoon school, 260 children are learning the Greek language, history and geography. Two teachers detached from Greece teach also at the school. The other two educators staff the Greek schools in the village of Belogiannis and the city of Miskolt.

In a private meeting with Mr. Koranis, Dr. Sarantopoulos was informed on the issues concerning the Omogeneia. After the meeting, the community members attended a dinner reception given by the Self-Government of the Greek minority of Budapest in honor of Dr. Sarantopoulos.


Of special interest was Mrs. Sarantopoulos’ meeting with the surviving veterans of the Greek Civil War, at the initiative of the SAE Secretary and with the support of the President of the Self- Government of the Greek minority in Hungary Mr.Koranis and the President of the Self-Government of the Greek minority in Budapest Mr.Agardi.

The meeting took place in the hall of the first Greek organization that was founded by the refugees in Hungary. The Secretary of SAE received enthusiastic welcome from the elderly, and shared moments of intense emotion, when the veterans spoke of their personal story, a life filled with pain and sacrifice, courage and faith.

Mrs. Sarantopoulos thanked those people whose great efforts and with many sacrifices kept Greece alive in Hungary. «While the past has left deep wounds, you made a fresh start in this country that welcomed you, you created a second home without ever forgetting your homeland Hellas» she said.

During the meeting she had the opportunity to be informed of the problems they encounter mainly having to do with the granting of the Greek citizenship, the disability pensions and pensions for widows. Furthermore, an important issue of great concern to them is the loss of personal property in Greece.

In particular, the matter concerning the claim of war disablement pension under law 1863/89 «on removal and consequences of civil war 1944/1949», the elderly said that despite the repeated actions taken, their applications are still pending.

Many of the Greeks who have applied to receive the Greek citizenship or a pension as they have worked in Greece before the civil war, have passed away waiting for this dream to be fulfilled. The elderly expressed the request that all pending applications should be processed and all relevant requests be evaluated immediately from the Prefectures and Municipalities, in which they have been submitted.

Dr.Sarantopoulos, taking into consideration the advisory and vindicative role of SAE, is intending to submit a detailed report to the relevant authorities concerning the subject.

The Greek community of Hungary has 4,500 members, consisting mostly of political refugees, of second and third generation, but also businessmen and academics who settled in the country in recent years.

In 1993, with the adoption of the new Hungarian Act on National and Ethnic Minorities, the Greeks were included in the 13 national minorities of the country. In 1995 the « Self-Government of the Greek minority in Hungary» was created and in 1998 the Greek local self-governments were established, reaching thirty-five today in all of Hungary.

The village “Belogiannis”, in Hungary was built by Greek refugees and currently many of them live there. Traditionally the village’s elected mayor is of Greek descent and many children of the local population learn Greek with great enthusiasm in the Greek school. The successful mayor of the village today is Kostas Rizogiannis, who elected consecutively for the third time for a four year term.


r. Sarantopoulos also visited the exhibition « Greek Heritage in Hungary - Greek orthodox Diaspora in Hungary during the 17-19th century», currently open to the public in the Budapest History Museum. The exhibition operates under the auspices of His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew and with the support of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Middle Europe Michael.

The abundance of built heritage and relics in Hungary is well known.

The Greek community known as the first Greek Diaspora played a crucial role in amassing it.

The grand scale exhibited at the Budapest Historic Museum presents the first Greek Diaspora, its cultural and ecclesiastic memories along a number of objects, the role they played in the promotion of culture, commerce, and politics.

The visitors can learn about famous buildings that have not been known by many as related to the Greek settlers. The exhibition shows relics never before shown to the audience, due to the rich memorable, public collections, ecclesiastic collections and private collectors, who show the uphill journey of the Greeks who started from the parts of Macedonia and their emerging presence in the historic Buddha, the Pest and other cities and regions of Hungary.

Greeks settling in Hungary at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, after the Turkish occupation, took great part in the resettling and reviving process of the area. The venturesome Greeks became major supporters of changes during Reformation. They supported the construction of the Chain Bridge, the Ludovica and the Hungarian Scientific Academy. Their ecclesiastic, fine art and literary heritage is unparalleled in the region.

The Greeks of Hungary of the first Greek Diaspora played a pivotal role in the re-birth of the county after the Ottoman era. They have supported Greece in its fight for freedom in 1821 and actively participated in the struggle of Regas Feraios and the Filiki Etaireia.

The exhibition is organized by the «Orthodox Hungarian Church Community of Budapest founded by the Greeks” in cooperation with the «Greek-Cypriot-Hungarian Friendship Society» and the Hellenic Foundation for Culture and the support of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Tourism of Greece and Hungary

As Dr. Sarantopoulos was informed, the success of the exhibition is so great that an extension of its operation has already been requested by the History Museum of Budapest.

Dr. Sarantopoulos was guided through the exhibition by Mr. Vasilios Stamatopoulos, businessman and representative of the Orthodox Church Community of Budapest, Mrs. Martha Polatidou, President of the Orthodox Church Community of Budapest and Vasilios Aggelides, President of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture. The Secretary of SAE was accompanied by Mr. Koranis, President of the Self-Government of the Greek minority of Hungary, Mr. Agardi President of the Self-Government of the Greek minority of Budapest and the President of the Hellenic Cultural Association of Hungary Mr.Kanakis.

The Secretary of SAE was received by the Ambassador of Greece in Hungary, H.E. Mr.Spyridon Georgiles, at the premises of the Greek embassy, and was briefed on issues relating to Greeks Abroad.


Dr. Sarantopoulos concluded her trip in Slovakia. In Bratislava she met with the President of the Hellenic-Slovakian Friendship Association Mr. Titos Papadopoulos.

The Secretary of SAE was briefed on issues pertaining to the Hellenic community of the region as well as the initiatives and actions taken by the Greek-Slovakian organization. She also had the opportunity to discuss further possibilities of cooperation with the World Council of Hellenes Abroad.

Vienna, 28th of July 2009

Image courtesy of SAE

(Posted 4 August 2009. Reformatted and reposted 14 March 2010.)

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The primary objective of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) is the unity of all 17 million Hellenes worldwide promoting thereby the meaning of Ecumenical Hellenism. It operates as an independent NGO (non-governmental organization) of Hellenes abroad; it also serves as the exclusive official advisory body to the Hellenic Republic on all matters of interest to Hellenes in the Diaspora. The Council is the official entity through which an ongoing dialogue is being developed between the Diaspora and the Hellenic Republic. It also serves as an information center on various issues of interest to Hellenes living abroad.
With its headquarters in Thessaloniki, SAE seeks to strengthen the ties between the seven (7) million Hellenes abroad and the ten (10) million Hellenes in Greece.

For more information, visit the SAE website at http://www.saeamerica.org or contact SAE directly: 360 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1109, Chicago, Illinois 60601; Tel: +1 (312) 357-6424; Fax: +1 (312) 357-0527; Email: hellenes@saeamerica.org.

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