The Greek Consul in Melbourne 1919-21

A view of Melbourne, Australia. (AP Photo)

Alexander V. Maniachi was the honorary Greek Consul in Melbourne, Australia for the period covered in this article. At this time, there was no official Greek diplomatic representation in Australia until the appointment of career diplomat Leonidas Chrysanthopoulos (1926-32) as Consul-General in Sydney. Maniachi arrived in Melbourne in the late 1880s, was a naturalized British subject and a businessman. He discharged his diplomatic duties loyally and defended Greek interests in letters to the editor in the columns of the Melbourne press

In early February, 1919, when Eleftherios Venizelos was presenting Greece’s territorial claims in Paris, Maniachi addressed an interesting letter to the Age newspaper highlighting Greek parliamentarians in the Ottoman Parliament who sent a note to the President of the Chamber demanding the punishment of the Turks responsible for the deportation and extermination of Greeks and Armenians during the Great War. It is interesting that his letter coincided with Venizelos’ presentation which could only help the Greek position in Australia. Venizelos was admired and respected by the victorious allies.

The Greek Government would have kept Maniachi informed on the progress of the campaign in Asia Minor. In October, 1919, Maniachi received an order from Athens which was published in the Melbourne press. It stated that “all male Greek subjects born in 1900” should present themselves to the nearest Greek Consulate for registration for military service. The decree mentioned that military service was mandatory and failure to register would result in punishment. Some of these new recruits were to relieve older troops who had served for some time. Many of these recruits would have been Greek subjects. Maniachi had “already arranged for 20 passports for Greeks who are at Port Darwin, [Northern Territory]” to leave for Greece. It is difficult to estimate how many left Australia to fight in Asia Minor by the end of 1919.

The Allies gathered in San Remo to put the finishing touches to the Turkish peace terms (later known as the Treaty of Sevres) to be offered to the Turks in late Apri,l 1920. In the Melbourne press, the Italians were depicted as being jealous of Greek claims. On April 28, Maniachi wrote a letter to the editor of the Age newspaper criticizing it for its April 27 article stating that the Turkish peace treaty “unduly favors Greece, and there is dissatisfaction in Italy.” He defended Greece’s gains and blamed Italian dissension on “the irreconcilables[imperialists], who have forgotten Mazzini’s catchword ‘Italia irredenta.’ Now that Italy has redeemed her nationals she will not deny to Greece the same privilege, especially the redemption will be from a barbarous Government, whereas theirs was from a civilized one.” According to Maniachi, whatever differences existed between Greece and Italy hadbeen “settled by the present Italian Government and Mr. Venizelos prior to the Powers decision in a spirit of friendship and justice.”

The electoral defeat of Eleftherios Venizelos to the Royalists in November 1920 and the return of King Constantine in December was opposed by Britain, France, and Italy. This paved the way for the revision of the unratified Treaty of Sevres. At the London Conference held in February/March 1921, the Allied attempts to end to the Greek-Turkish conflict and to revise the Treaty of Sevres ended in abject failure. Both the Greeks and Kemalists rejected the allied terms and continued their combat in Asia Minor. It should be noted that the Turks sent two delegations to London- one representing the Sultan’s government in Constantinople and the rebel regime of Mustapha Kemal in Ankara. The former was under allied control whereas the latter had a free hand in Anatolia.

The Melbourne press reported of a Greek mobilization and Greeks domiciled in Australia volunteering to fight in Asia Minor. The Greek army was engaged in a short campaign against the Kemalists which ended in a military stalemate. The Melbourne newspapers reported the Greeks dominating the early stages with the Kemalists successfully counter-attacking by forcing their opponent to withdraw.

Maniachi addressed two letters to the editors of the Age and Argus on March 23 and 28 explaining and defending the Greek position in Asia Minor. The first letter mentioned that the calling up of Greek reservists was part of the Royalists’ determination to enforce the Treaty of Sevres by continuing the policy of its predecessor in Asia Minor. The Turks could not be relied upon to govern other races. Greece’s “existence was always bound with the Western powers, is the medium which peace in the East can be secured.”

His second letter explained that the Greek assault on the Brusa front had not altered the situation with the Greek army remaining in Smyrna. It appears that Maniachi was very critical of the Allies making concessions to the Turks. He was mistaken that Greece “[was] acting with the full countenance of the allied powers.”The Allies were anti-Greek , especially, the French and Italians supporting the Kemalists and “it has been clearly proved that Turkey has not changed in spite of all her misfortune; that she is incapable of doing so, and that Europe is only courting future wars in restoring to her of her lost provinces, peopled mainly by races that have nothing in common with the Turks.” On the other hand, Britain’s position was somewhat ambivalent by remaining neutral and working closely with her two allied partners to end the Greek-Turkish conflict.

In late August, 1921, Dr. Constantine M. Kyriazopoulos was appointed the new Greek Consul. He originally came from Adrianople, studied medicine in Athens and arrived in Melbourne in 1902.