American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Capital Report, Vol. 6 Issue 2

Volume 6, Issue 2—March-May 2014


June 23, 2014—No. 02 (202) 785-8430


AHI President’s Note: The American Hellenic Institute presents AHI’s Capital Report which is a timely synopsis of recent policy discussions in Washington to help keep you abreast of the latest developments. As a service to our membership and constituency, and to gain an understanding of the position of other entities on our issues, the American Hellenic Institute attends and participates at policy forums or roundtable discussions to ensure the policy positions of the Greek-American community are represented.

The content provided in AHI’s Capital Report is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of AHI.


Cyprus: Prospects and Challenges: Looking Ahead to 2014

AHI attended an event titled on challenges facing Cyprus in 2014, co-hosted by the Global Europe Program and the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center on February 28.  Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. George Chacalli spoke about expectations for Cyprus.  With the potential development of newly discovered hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean, there is potential for Cyprus to become a major regional player.  There is hope that Cyprus could gain stronger regional integration and international engagement, due to continued negotiations on reunification. Expectations for 2014 also include the improvement of the economy, more national growth, and increased political stability.  Amb. Chacalli addressed these topics and discussed various aspects of what 2014 holds for Cyprus.

Amb. Chacalli began by stating there are three independent but relating tracks—the Cyprus problem, the economy, and the energy issue.  Regarding the Cyprus problem, new negotiators have been appointed, the Famagusta issue is being revisited, and Cyprus’s relationship with Israel continues to improve.  Regarding banking, Cyprus has undergone a complete overhaul in its banking system by following the instructions of the International Monetary Fund and the Troika.  The energy issue has also taken a positive turn with the ratification of Cyprus’s EEZ and upcoming negotiations between Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel.  Total, an Italian gas exploration company, indicated that there is potential for oil beneath the natural gas findings as well.  Moreover, relations with Israel have advanced considerably.

The D.C. representative of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” asked Amb. Chacalli why he did not mention a potential pipeline to Turkey should a solution in Cyprus be reached.  Amb. Chacalli stated that four options exist for Cyprus’s hydrocarbon deposits, including a floating LNG plant between the EEZ of Israel and Cyprus, the use of the existing LNG plant in Egypt, or the building a new LNG plant in either Cyprus or Turkey.  The biggest factor affecting this choice would be the cost of future pipelines, but Cyprus is open to whichever option is the most beneficial

Amb. Chacalli also reiterated the importance of keeping the international community engaged in the right way, which means keeping negotiations under the UN auspices and increasing involvement from the EU.  In regards to the recent event in which the Turkish frigate Barbaros expelled a Norwegian ship exploring in the Total block, which Turkey claimed jurisdiction over, Chacalli said that he hopes Cyprus will be left alone to explore and move on without provocations. 

Furthermore, Chacalli explained his vision for the Eastern Mediterranean – that it will become an area of peace and provide a way for Turkey and Israel to also mend their relationship, potentially through the discovery of hydrocarbons.  Chacalli also noted that Turkish Cypriot desires will be made part of the overall solution, including shared concerns on property, troops and colonists.  When asked about the differences in this new round of negotiations, Chacalli said Turkey has been very positive thus far and will continue to be involved directly in future discussions.



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Cyprus Negotiations Update: Why Prospects for a Peaceful and Lasting Settlement are Improving

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) attended an event titled, “Cyprus Negotiations Update: Why Prospects for a Peaceful and Lasting Settlement are Improving,” at the Global Europe Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center, March 10.  The speaker was Özdil Nami, representative of the Turkish Cypriot Community in charge of foreign affairs. Nami shared his perspective on the prospects for a peaceful and lasting settlement.  He discussed developments in the recent months, such as the impact of regional hydrocarbon discoveries on the negotiations.  After the finalization of the joint statement, Nami said that the community remains “optimistic” for a new comprehensive settlement reached in the upcoming months. 

Nami proceeded to discuss the joint statement of the two leaders regarding the issue of sovereignty.  In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus was established as a partnership with a power-sharing agreement, which hijacked her single sovereignty.  According to Nami, neither side was allowed to claim jurisdiction over the other. Since then, Turkish Cypriots have sought a model that does not isolate them from the rest of the world.  He added, in the 1970s, negotiations with Archbishop Makarios failed to produce results on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.  In 1998, Turkish Cypriots were in favor of the two communities co-existing as two federal, sovereign states, Nami explained.  By 2004, however, they realized that Makarios’ goal was unrealistic and shifted their point of view and created the Annan Plan that year.  The subsequent failure of the Annan Plan created a decade-long stalemate. 

Nami continued to provide his perspective on the topic. In 2008, however, the north and the south both experienced change in their governments, which led to promising talks between Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias.  The two leaders divided the Cyprus issue into six main areas, and focused on addressing governance and power-sharing.  However, when Eroglu was elected in the next round of elections in the North, a stalemate resulted again until the election of Anastasiades in the south.  Anastasiades insisted on what he called the Three S’s—single citizenship, sovereignty, and single international personality.  Eroglu initially struggled with the “single sovereignty” aspect, but the two leaders were able to create a joint statement nevertheless.  Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, expedited the process in Cyprus to help finalize the joint statement text.  The statement included elements previously rejected by the Greek Cypriots, such as listing federal powers in the constitution. 

Nami then discussed the cause of the current positive momentum to establish a federation through separate but simultaneous referenda.  Part of it lies in a realization by the Greek Cypriots that their hope to use EU membership as leverage against Turkish Cypriots has disappeared.  The other aspect is Cyprus’ current economic crisis, which can be mended only by reunification.  Additionally, the discovery of hydrocarbons has led to the understanding that the safest way to obtain and send them to Europe is through accessible Turkish infrastructure. 

Property, territory, security and the guarantor issue are the remaining core concerns that the two sides can now focus on, said Nami.  Turkey has established an immovable property commission to deal with property claims.  Nami said the territorial adjustment map in the Annan Plan will likely not change much in the current negotiations.  In response to what the future roles of the guarantor powers Greece and Turkey look like, Nami said that as far as the Turkish Cypriots are concerned, he would like to see an approach to a guarantor role in some capacity. 

An AHI representative asked Nami whether or not he finds it helpful to the negotiation process to have 43,000 Turkish troops still occupying the northern 1/3 of the island. Nami responded saying he believes the troops have not obstructed negotiations because they have no bearing on the new referenda.  He said there are still prevalent security concerns, and thus there is a need for troops there to maintain peace on the island.  The troops issue will be addressed in a settlement agreement, however, along with the future possibility of reducing troop numbers to 1960 levels, Nami said. 

In response to a question about how the settlers from Anatolia will be dealt with in the settlement, Nami responded that it is not as highly a controversial issue, since political balance is a higher priority at the point.  Turkish Cypriots seek to have both sides have an equal say in the sovereignty of the island as well as add words on internal citizenship of each community.



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Turkey’s Municipal Elections: Act One in the Nation’s Political Drama

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) attended an event at the Brookings Institute on March 13 about the upcoming municipal elections facing Turkey. The featured speaker was Dr. Ali Çarkoğlu, professor and dean, the College of Administrative Science and Economics, Koc University. Dr. Çarkoğlu presented his report, “Turkey goes to the Ballot Box: 2014 Municipal Elections and Beyond” and then discussed several factors that affect the voting processes which include protestors, the corruption scandal, and Turkey’s economy.

As Turkey enters an eight-month election process, consisting of three elections, there are many questions about the stability of the political system. Çarkoğlu discussed the political process and how there seems to be a lack of political opposition to the current leading party, the AKP. The AKP ran for office in 2002, making political corruption in Turkey a main issue. The party faced a major corruption scandal when investigations in mid-December of 2013 resulted in corruption allegations against high ranking government officials in the AKP, including Prime Minister Erdogan. These corruption charges resulted in large anti-governmental protests. Furthermore, many people became very skeptical of the Turkish lira, buying U.S. dollars, which then weakened the lira by 20% and resulting in destabilizing effects on the Turkish economy.

Taking the above factors into consideration, Dr. Çarkoğlu speculated that the AKP still stands a decent chance for reelection due to the lack of strong political opposition in Turkey as it stands. He further stated that voter behavior has a strong impact on the outcome to as the youth tends to not be a strong demographic of voter turnout. Erdogan may or may not run for the Turkish presidency in which case the question stands whether he is strong enough to pull 40% of the vote. Dr. Çarkoğlu argued that there is a distinct possibility the Erdogan can come out on top following this election period.

An AHI representative asked Dr. Çarkoğlu how a party under investigation for serious corruption charges (a party which also responded to allegations against it by firing or reassigning top prosecutors and police officers) can still have a conceivable chance of winning another term in office due to the lack of political opposition? What does this say about democracy in Turkey? Çarkoğlu responded that Erdogan and the AKP will do what they can to get the votes. He said, “These moves only comfort Erdogan…(they) do not meet the notion of democratic principles.”



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Latest Developments in Cyprus Talks and Prospects for an Agreement

On March 18, the AHI attended a discussion featuring Dr. Kudret Ozersay, the Turkish Cypriot community’s negotiator in Cyprus. Georgetown University’s Turkish Studies Department hosted the event. Dr. Ozersay has been involved in the negotiations in Cyprus for twelve years and was appointed by the leader of Turkish Cypriot community to be their chief negotiator.

Dr. Ozersay began by describing the nature of the dialogue between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in previous settlement attempts. Until crossings were allowed, in 2003, there was no interaction between the two communities and despite limited conflict management, no settlement prospects. Dr. Ozersay spoke of the frustrations involved in repeating the same arguments and counter arguments that quickly became exhausted as they would ultimately lead to a stalemate. The key to a resolution is both sides making a few concessions.

Dr. Ozersay touched on the new conditions and climate in these recently restarted negotiations, citing the economic situation on both sides, hydrocarbon discoveries off of the south coast of Cyprus and the involvement of outside actors. “There is a growing hope in Cyprus on both sides that also brings a lot of pressure that can lead to disappointment,” he stated. Entering the negotiation process with the joint statement is also a factor that contributes to this “new climate” in the negotiations. Another factor that Dr. Ozersay argued makes a difference in the negotiation process is the economic crisis on the island. “This has lead to a change in the perception of the status quo being sustainable on the side of the Greek Cypriots…how are we going convince the Greek Cypriot elite and leadership that the status quo is not sustainable?”

Regarding hydrocarbons, Dr. Ozersay cautioned that they could be a hindrance. These deposits should belong to both communities but where is the incentive to put this on the table for a comprehensive settlement? He would like to see Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cooperate on this issue from the start.

The nature of the comprehensive joint statement agreed upon between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities was a major talking point. He noted that the joint statement cannot solve the problem but represents a shared ideology. Key issues that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed on included a shared sovereignty and a single citizenship for Cyprus. Turkish Cypriots further desire want political equality and a role in effective decision-making in all governmental issues. They believe that one community cannot impose itself on the other and that constituent states will not be exclusively Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot. A certain number of members of each community will be able to settle in the area belonging to the other community.

Dr. Ozersay spoke of the importance of confidence building measures (CBMs), referencing different examples. The explosion in Cyprus in 2011 resulted in an electricity crisis and Turkish Cypriots cooperated with Greek Cypriots in their demand for electricity. He also referenced a recent environmental spill close to the port of Famagusta and how Greek Cypriots cooperated with the Turkish Cypriot community to assist with the clean up.

When asked about the role that the ghost city of Varosha could play in the negotiations and the Turkish Cypriot stance on the matter. Dr. Ozersay said the issue has come up and failed to gain ground in many prior negotiations. The issue of Varosha is one that involves all six chapters of the Cyprus problem, making it a miniature version of the greater Cyprus problem. They would rather not risk failure or losing momentum in the negotiations process.



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Human Rights and Rule of Law in Turkey

AHI attended the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission briefing on, “Human Rights and Rule of Law in Turkey,” which took place in the Cannon House Office Building on March 27.  Panelists were: Dr. Howard Eissenstat, assistant professor of History, St. Lawrence University; Dr. Aaron Lobel, founder and president, American Abroad Media; and Dr. Kemal Kirişci, director, Center on the United States and Europe’s Turkey Project.  Panelists discussed the rule of law and human rights situation in Turkey given the upcoming local elections scheduled for March 30.

Before the program began, Congressman Gus Bilirakis remarked that he could not understand how Turkey, a country that continues to deny her citizens their basic human rights, can be considered an EU candidate.  He pointed out that the thousands of Turkish troops in Cyprus show Turkey’s hostility to the rule of law and international norms.  He further stated that any ally of the United States must respect democratic values, which Turkey has not as shown in recent anti-democratic events such as shutting down YouTube and threatening to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. 

Dr. Eissenstat began the discussion with his remarks on Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s intolerance toward freedom of speech and the AKP’s disrespect for the rule of law, which have unfortunately overshadowed the small positive steps towards democratization made in Turkey.  The violent crushing of the peaceful Gezi Park protests, the chain of corruption scandals, the granting of judiciary oversight to the executive branch, the restrictive internet censorship bill, and the ban on Twitter are all shocking examples of the decline of democracy and rule of law.  Turkey’s government silences opposition, which has resulted in it being the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Dr. Eissenstat also said the AKP has surpassed even the worst Turkish political traditions by focusing on reforms that add force to AKP’s power, through party patronage and allowing Islamic traditions to exist.  With the AKP’s increasingly solidified power comes a detachment from the rule of law, said Eissenstat.  

Dr. Aaron Lobel, in his remarks, said Turkey is quickly becoming an “elective despotism,” while undermining the rule of law and ignoring checks and balances.  He pointed out that people failed to see this coming since democracy and liberty are not interchangeable.  An authoritarian elected by popular vote is still an authoritarian, he said.  Freedom and religion have diverged from each other.  Freedom of the press in Turkey has diminished since the AKP’s emergence to power (even previous Turkish leaders did not crack down on the media to this extent).  The AKP’s relationship with Islam has been underestimated, remarked Lobel.  Lobel recommended that foreign policy should focus on Turkish democracy and freedom, generating more awareness of Turkey’s continued imprisonment of journalists and standing firm in the EU rulings against Turkey. 

Dr. Kemal Kirişci commented that Turkey has many issues in its “neighborhood” apart from its more stable neighbors, Greece and Bulgaria.   Prime Minister Erdogan is being challenged, even from within his own party, and especially by the Gulen movement.  There is a real fear that Turkey’s elections may not continue to be free and fair in the future and Turkey has not accepted a system of checks and balances.  Local elections are coming at a time when people are uneducated about voting and when elections will, inevitably, serve as a referendum on the Prime Minister.


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Cyprus and Energy Discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Catalyst for Conflict Resolution

AHI attended an event on the effect of energy discoveries on negotiations in Cyprus at the S.J. Intercultural Center on March 31.  The Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University sponsored the event.  Dr. Ioannis Grigoriadis, assistant professor of European Studies, Bilkent University and research fellow, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy provided remarks.

Grigoriadis discussed the large discoveries of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean and how they have become a sensitive political issue in that region.  Cyprus and Israel have benefited by signing contracts on drilling projects that will make them net energy exporters.  However, there are potential regional disputes in defining the Exclusive Economic Zones in this region.  Grigoriadis said the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s relations with Israel prevent regional cooperation and European energy security.  He believes it would be difficult for the governments of Israel and Turkey to agree on enough of their outstanding issues in order for a pipeline between Israel and Turkey to be a possibility.



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Moving Forward on the Cyprus Question

AHI attended an event on the Cyprus Question, hosted by the European Institute, April 4.  The speaker was Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, negotiator of the Greek Cypriot Community.  Ambassador Mavrioyiannis first provided background information leading up to President Nicos Anastasiades’ election and the banking crisis.  With the current president, Cypriots now stand a better chance in terms of negotiations.  He added, Cyprus’ accession to the EU was well-deserved and their time in the EU presidency was their chance to give back. 

Ambassador Mavroyianis believes Greek Cypriots can secure a situation for both communities by using fundamental principles of the EU.  Cyprus appreciates U.S. assistance, especially with regards to striking a deal and facilitating a positive start to negotiations between both sides.  Mavroyianis said he is now involved in mapping the positions of both sides and identifying remaining issues.  There are still considerable differences in many fundamental issues.  For example, Greek Cypriots believe there needs to be a substantial territorial adjustment, which Turkish Cypriots oppose.  Greek Cypriots say the rights of dispossessed property owners need to be respected, but Turkish Cypriots believe property should be given to current owners.  Nevertheless, negotiating teams meet weekly and leaders are expected to meet on a monthly basis.  Mavroyianis said the key lies with Ankara so meeting with them directly remains important. 

Additionally, Mavroyianis addressed and outlined President Anastasiades’ proposal for Famagusta.  Anastasiades’ proposal focuses on efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue, which include the returning of the city of Famagusta to its legal inhabitants, which is backed by the UN.  The return of Famagusta will help Cyprus’ economy.  

Mavroyianis said the settlement should not neutralize Cyprus completely, which would have been inevitable with the Annan Plan.  He claimed that Cyprus’ global role is more crucial now than ever before, especially due to the nature of the eastern Mediterranean.  Mavroyiannis pointed out the U.S. is interested in Cyprus because of the hydrocarbon deposit discovered in the region.  The U.S.’s goals include a solution in Cyprus and a more effective relationship between Turkey and Israel. 

During Q&A, Mavroyiannis was asked whether or not he believes the Greek community is willing to compromise their property since they would not be getting the maximum preferred.  Mavroyiannis responded saying he will insist that dispossessed owners are given priority, although he knows this is not guaranteed to happen successfully for all parties involved.  Mavroyiannis was also asked if energy is a catalyst for a solution, to which he responded saying that energy is not being discussed in negotiations.  

Furthermore, Mavroyiannis addressed the Ankara Protocol, the chapters in Turkey’s EU accession process which have been frozen since the start because of Cyprus.  He said Turkey now understands that its potential for joining the EU is no longer affected just by Cyprus.  Turkey recognizes other factors involved, such as the absorptive capacity of the EU and the rhetoric of the EU described as a ‘Christian club.’ Mavroyiannis also elaborated on the new role of guarantor powers (United Kingdom, Turkey, and Greece), who agreed to prevent the promotion of either unifying the Republic of Cyprus with any other State or partitioning the Island.  He said guarantors can be a recipe for disaster, a euphemism to cover a perception that Greece and Turkey have rights in Cyprus.  Cyprus is autonomous and independent, Mavroyiannis stated.




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European Energy Security in Light of the Ukraine Crisis: New Gas Sources

AHI attended a briefing on the Southern Gas Corridor on Capitol Hill, April 11.  The key speakers were: Professor Brenda Shaffer, specialist on energy and foreign policy, and Rauf Mammadov, representative of SOCAR (National Oil Company of Azerbaijan) in the United States.

The briefing focused on the Southern Gas Corridor and a discussion of the planned projects aimed to provide secure gas from the Middle East to Europe.  SOCAR began a new natural gas supply project six months ago, one that will bring billions of dollars in investment in Greece and Italy and create tens of thousands of new jobs in Turkey and southern Europe. 

The briefing also discussed Greece and Azerbaijan’s cooperation and economic relations in the energy sector.  In 2013, Azerbaijan won control of DESFA, a Greek gas-grid operator, leaving only 34% of DESFA shares in Greece’s ownership. SOCAR facilitated the plan for the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a gas export route running through Greece, Albania, and ending in Italy with the purpose of transporting gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.  TAP could benefit Greece, providing it with the potential to become an energy transfer country.  Benefits include thousands of temporary jobs during the pipeline’s construction, 1.5 billion Euros of direct investments, an established infrastructure in northern Greece, energy security, and affordable access to Azeri natural gas.  Additionally, Azerbaijan would benefit from directly selling Azeri gas to markets in Greece.  This natural gas pipeline will also provide Europe with an alternative to Russian natural gas, a current incentive for many European countries.


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The Future of Democracy in Turkey: Elections, Politics and Foreign Policy

AHI attended the 4th Annual Insight to Turkey Convention which was an all-day conference hosted by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), April 29.  Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Besir Atalay was the keynote speaker.  The deputy prime minister described the progressive steps Turkey is taking, such as democratization, westernization and the elections and briefly touched on how the AKP does stand for religious freedom in Turkey.

During Q&A, an attendee reminded Atalay of his statement that Turkey is now a place of religious freedom under the AKP.  The attendee then asked about the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Minority in Turkey.  “Prime Minister Erdogan promised President Obama that he would take steps to reopen the Halki Seminary in Turkey, which was illegally closed by the Government of Turkey. Yet the Seminary remains closed and it seems that Erdogan has reneged on this promise. Can you please comment on what the current administration will do to rectify these wrongs to the Christian minority in Turkey?”

Atalay responded by first stating that this is an important question. “When it comes to minorities or (minority religions), many steps have been made. The government has been giving back land to religious minorities. The Halki Seminary is part of a package that will be complete in the final moments. It is a principle of rapprochement with Greece. We want some steps to be taken by Greece of similar nature. In terms of the Halki Seminary, it will not take long to solve the problem because Greece is also taking steps. We will be solving the problem soon.”


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Turkey and the Transformation of the Global and Economical Landscape

AHI attended former Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s speech at the Brookings Institute on energy and democracy in Turkey, May 1.  The Sebanci University in Istanbul participated at the event, broadcasting it live and allowing its attendees to participate during the Q&A session.

Albright discussed how Turkey’s geopolitical location places it within close proximity of 70% of the world’s known oil reserves. Its position in the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it a potential bridge for Europe’s own energy demands. Turkey itself imports 75% of its energy, 50% of which is imported Russia. Recent developments in Ukraine will surely have a straining impact on Turkey and its relationship with Russia. Albright mentioned how alternative oil producers, including Iran and Iraq, were under significant political and conflicting positions, deeming them unreliable alternatives. Another option would be to utilize Cyprus and Israel’s reserves but according to Albright, “that would require a lot of diplomacy as Turkey has had a poor relationship with both of these countries for an extended period of time.”

The other issue that Albright discussed was the Turkish administration’s interpretation of democracy. She emphasized Turkey’s need to work within a democratic framework, stating, “there is no such thing as a one party democracy. Checks and balances (are) essential to a democracy and that does not exist in Turkey.” Albright cited a Freedom House report released May 1 that declared Turkey an “unfree” state. This declaration was based on the Turkish government’s use of its leverage over the media to limit debate and political opposition.

During Q&A, Albright touched upon Turkey’s accession into the EU. She discussed how financial and geographically, Turkey has a lot to offer the EU but the recent actions of the AKP party and Turkey’s status as a developing democracy are hindering its accession. She mentioned developments in Cyprus briefly, sounding hopeful for the current settlement talks.


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Greece: The Path to a Competitive Future

AHI attended a forum on Greece’s recovery at the Woodrow Wilson Center, May 22.  Dr. Sean Ennis, senior economist in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spoke on the development of the organization’s recently published report, the “Competition Assessment Review of Greece.” The report created more than 329 recommendations based on a range of legal provisions that should be amended or repealed.  Implementing all recommendations could bring a 5.3 billion Euros in profit to the Greek economy.

Many pieces of legislation enforced on businesses by the Greek government were analyzed in detail for the purpose of this report. Out of 555 pieces of legislation, 329 placed restrictions on competition, including rules which lacked a clear beneficial objective for the consumer.  Since competition drives productivity, Greece must increase productivity to increase growth.  The only ways growth can be produced are by increasing productivity per worker or increasing the percentage of the working population. 

The report asks that Greece abolish many outdated restrictions, price regulations, barriers to entry, and levies.  In its recommendations, it focused primarily on four sectors within Greece’s economy: food processing, construction, retail business, and tourism.  Dr. Ennis provided background information on Greece’s current economy in the midst of this crisis, reminding attendees that the crisis is a result of long term effects, including an anti-business commercial law system, regulations that protected vested interests from competition, inefficient labor protection laws, inefficient state-owned enterprises, and high tax rates and tax evasion. Since 1975, 171,000 new regulations have been introduced.  This has severely hindered Greece’s ability to be competitive.

As of 2014, there are finally signs of inversion with the first primary surplus and issuance of bonds since the start of the crisis.  However, there are still many risks and very high unemployment.  As a result, the Troika will make parts of this report a requirement for Greece before they can receive future funding.


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After the European Elections: A Fresh Start for the EU and the Transatlantic Relationship?

AHI attended a panel discussion on the European Elections hosted by the Woodrow Wilson Center on May 27. The panel consisted of: Antoine Ripoll, director, European Parliament Liaison Office; Paul Adamson, editor-in- chief of E! Sharp and senior policy advisor; Richard Rose, director for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathcyde; and Jeffrey Anderson, Graf Goltz professor and director of BMW Center for German and European Studies, Georgetown University. The panel discussed the outcome and implications of the elections and the effects they may have on the Transatlantic Relationship.

Initially, the panelists discussed the disappointing voter turnout. Of the 500 million inhabitants of the combined European member states, only 46% participated in the election. One of the major issues put to vote was the model of the EU and “how much integration do Europe’s citizens want?”  Voting results show that 70% of voters want to see more integration in the EU demonstrating that the majority of Europeans are fond of the globalization that has become a byproduct of the EU and there should be more integration in the future. Adamson believes the globalizing aspects of the EU have had a positive impact on countries but there are still countries that do not get along.  Adamson added that freedom of movement perhaps should be addressed more intensively in the future.

Antoine Ripoll explained that countries such as Greece that have experienced “political earthquakes” over the past couple years are more likely to be against further integration because it increases competition for the unemployed workforce. He reminded attendees that (according to the BBC) voting results in Greece indicate that the far left party, SYRIZA, gained 26% and Prime Minister Samaras’s New Democracy only received 23% of the vote, resulting in SYRIZA asking the Greek President to call for early national elections which would only add to the political upheaval the country has faced in the last few years.

Ripoll further stated the government of Greece, and the leadership of other struggling European economies, should take more provisions to create jobs without creating additional debt. This is the responsibility of member states as well as the duty of theirs to ensure that the European Union “works.”


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Myth and Rhetoric of the Turkish State: Changing Nations of Marginality in Turkey

AHI attended an event on the changing nations of marginality in Turkey at the George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs on May 30.  The guest speaker was Dr. Anita Sengupta, a famous scholar of Central Asian Studies and a Turkish policy worker.  Sengupta discussed the “Turkish Model,” also known as the Turkish Developmental Alternative, which was promoted in the Central Asian Republics in the Post-Soviet era.

Sengupta said the Arab Spring renewed the “Turkish Model” discussion, which includes analysis of Turkey’s relations with Eurasia.  Sengupta argued that the “Turkish Model” is at a crossroads with various alternatives for the future.  She claimed that the “Turkish Model” is actually a myth and does not align with its supposed ideal of a “secular, democratic, liberal society.”  The crushing of the 2013 Gezi Park protests is another factor affecting Sengupta’s criticism of this model.

Sengupta disagreed with the rhetoric of the model, which communicates a connection between the post-Soviet world and the Turkic world based on common origin.  She pointed out that Pan-Turkism was closely related to Pan-Turkey.  Historical experiences, political leadership, and institutions make for a unique Turkey experience, Sengupta said.    

She spoke about marginality in Turkey in institutional terms, as those who disagree with AKP policy and have an unwillingness to accept AKP beliefs.  Sengupta said the 50% “margin” affects the Middle East rather than Greece or Cyprus, although Turkey’s foreign policy is problematic as a whole and not pragmatic in its outlook.  Nevertheless, hardcore AKP support remains in the Turkish government, Sengupta reminded attendees.


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AHI meetings with State Department Officials, Congressional Offices

AHI hosted a Congressional Salute to Greek Independence and welcomed the remarks of members of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus on March 26.

In April, AHI met with the offices of Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC-5), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Further, AHI President Nick Larigakis met with Vice President Joe Biden and his security advisors prior to the Vice President’s official visit to Cyprus in May and for a post-trip debriefing in June.

AHI also hosted the incoming DCM to the American Embassy in Athens Suzanne Lawrence and Greece Desk Officer Davida Baxter at the Hellenic House for a briefing prior to Lawrence’s departure.


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AHI conducts several meetings during annual delegation trip to Greece and Cyprus

While in Cyprus in May, an AHI delegation met with Prodromos Prodromou, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign and European Affairs Committee of the Parliament; American Ambassador to Cyprus, John Koenig; Victoras Papadopoulos, the Government’s Deputy Spokesperson; Tasos Tzionis, Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of the Cyprus Question & Turkey Division, Energy & Marine Policy, Policy Planning Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Negotiator of the Greek Cypriot community, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis; President of the House of Representatives, Yiannakis Omirou; Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism; Senior Economic Officer of the Ministry of Finance, Kyriacos Kakouris; Kate Cleridou, Commissioner to the Presidency for Humanitarian Affairs; and Secretary General of AKEL, Andros Kyprianou.

In Istanbul, the AHI delegation was briefed by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; U.S. Consul General, Chuck Hunter; and Ambassador Mathioudakis, consul general of Greece.

During their time in Athens, the AHI delegation conducted several productive meetings with Savvas Anastasiades, President of the Parliament  Special Permanent Committee for Greeks of the Diaspora; Kostas Tsiaras, President of the Parliament Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defense; Ioannis Tragakis, First Deputy Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament and Chairman of the Committee for European Affairs; Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition and President of SYRIZA; Deputy Foreign Minister, Kyriakos Gerontopoulos; Ambassador Alexandros Ant. Couyou of the A4 Directorate for Turkey; Katia Georgiou, Minister Plenipotentiary Director, A2 Cyprus Directorate; Ambassador Giorgos Avgoustis of the Balkans Directorate; Argyro Papoulia, Deputy Director and First Counsellor, Directorate of North America and Ambassador Ioannis Rizopoulos, Director, A7 Directorate of North America; Ambassador Anastassis Mitsialis, Secretary General of the  Foreign Ministry; Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos; and American Ambassador to Greece David Pearce.


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For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at or follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC

The American Hellenic Institute is a nonprofit public policy organization that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and also within the American Hellenic community.


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