Volume 27 Number 222 — June 1, 2001
AHI GENERAL NEWS
MESSAGE FROM AHIPAC CHAIRMAN
Since our last AHI Report, AHI has actively pressed the AHIPAC agenda so as to impact and influence U.S. policy makers with respect to issues affecting U.S. relations in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region. We believe we have accomplished these objectives and take this opportunity to review briefly the various initiatives that AHI has undertaken in 2001.
In early February, AHI released its Third Update on Turkish Compliance with European Union Accession Conditions. This overview of Turkey’s compliance record during the period of October 1, 2000–January 31, 2001, was prepared to assist policy makers in the Executive Branch and Congress in monitoring Turkey’s progress toward EU accession. AHI will continue to issue these compliance updates on a quarterly basis.
Also in February, AHIPAC released the 2001 Greek American Policy Statements. The Policy Statements were prepared by AHI and endorsed by the following key Greek American membership organizations: Order of AHEPA; Hellenic American National Council (HANC); Hellenic Women’s Council (HAWC); Cyprus Federation of America; Panepirotic Federation of America; Pan-Macedonian Association; and Pan-Cretan Association of America. The Policy Statements highlight the significant changes taking place in the political, security and economic landscape in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region. Transmitted to President George W. Bush and all members of Congress, the Policy Statements emphasize the strategic importance of Greece and Cyprus as regional partners of the United States and emphasize the U.S. national interests that are served by and are inherent in those relationships.
On March 23, 2001, my testimony was submitted to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs on behalf of AHIPAC, AHEPA, HANC, HAWC, the Pan-Macedonian Association of America, the Pan-Cretan Association of America, the Cyprus Federation of American, the Pan Laconian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada, the Panepirotic Federation of America, and the Pan Karpathian Educational Progressive Association. These remarks centered around U.S. interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean with specific recommendations made regarding the Aegean maritime border dispute between Greece and Turkey, the unresolved political situation in Cyprus, and Turkey’s transition to democracy. AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis appeared at the hearing and presented oral testimony on my behalf.
On April 4, 2001, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced H.Con.Res.97 “expressing the sense of the Congress regarding Turkey’s claims of sovereignty over islands and islets in the Aegean.” Introduced at the initiative of AHIPAC, H.Con.Res.97 expresses the view of the House of Representatives, based on the rule of law, that the boundaries between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean have been permanently established and that islands and islets on the Greek side, including the islets of Imia, are the sovereign territory of Greece. This is a very important piece of legislation and it reaffirms our commitment to realize the goals outlined in our Policy Statements.
As is evident, AHI continues to demonstrate its active commitment to key causes outlined in its policy agenda. We urge your assistance and continued support in its policy arena, and welcome any suggestions that you may have regarding the core issues being addressed by our organization. Please take the time to read more about these initiatives in this issue of the AHI Report, or visit our Web site at www.ahiworld.org to review AHI’s policy activity as well as upcoming events, recent press releases, action alerts to Congress, and a host of publications.
Best wishes for a wonderful summer. We look forward to continued success with our organization.
—Nick Chimicles, Esq.
Legislation Introduced Regarding the Maritime Borders Between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean, the Enclaved in Cyprus
On April 4, 2001, Representative Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced H.Con.Res.97 “expressing the sense of the Congress regarding Turkey’s claims of sovereignty over islands and islets in the Aegean.” The Resolution, introduced at the initiative of the American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC), establishes that:
The following representatives signed on as original co-sponsors of H.Con.Res.97 along with Rep. Andrews: Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Michael McNulty (D-NY), Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), and Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI).
H.Con.Res.97 incorporates language initiated by AHIPAC and first introduced November 7, 1997 by Rep. Mike Pappas (R-NJ) in the 105th Congress. It also incorporates language from Amendment 19 to H.R. 2415 introduced by Rep. Andrews and passed by the House of Representatives by a unanimous vote on July 21, 1999.
Regarding the resolution, AHIPAC Chairman Nick Chimicles stated:
“ AHIPAC commends Rep. Andrews for introducing this resolution. It reaffirms the core American interest in the rule of law. AHIPAC thanks the current co-sponsors and urges all members of Congress to consider co-sponsoring and supporting H.Con.Res.97.”
In a separate action alert released by AHIPAC on May 4, 2001, support of S.Con.Res.28 is urged. The resolution was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on March 26, 2001, and calls for a “United States effort to end restrictions on the freedoms and human rights of the enclaved people in the occupied areas of Cyprus.” Co-sponsors to this resolution were Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD).
The resolution, resolved by the U.S. Senate with the House of Representatives concurring,
It is critical that AHI members voice their support of these two items to their representatives in the House and the Senate. For additional information on how you can voice your support of H.Con.Res.97, link to www.ahiworld.org/actionalert.html and follow the step-by-step instructions to contact your representative electronically on these legislative initiatives. If you would like assistance in drafting a letter to your representative, please contact AHI headquarters.
AHI Hosts 26th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored three distinguished Greek Americans, one Member of Congress and a remarkable diplomat at a glittering ceremony held on March 3, 2001 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC on the occasion of AHI’s 26th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner.
The dinner was attended by over 400 family, friends and supporters of the AHI from across the country. Special guests included Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Greek Ambassador Alexander Philon, and Cypriot Deputy Chief of Mission George Chacalli.
Mr. Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director, opened the program and welcomed the dinner guests. Following presentation of the colors, students from the Greek School of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA, sang the American and Greek national anthems.
After dinner, AHI Chairman James Marketos opened the awards ceremony with his greetings and an overview of AHI’s accomplishments in 2000. Following his remarks, AHIPAC Chairman Nicholas Chimicles introduced Mr. John C. Metaxas, anchor and correspondent of CNN Financial News, who served as master of ceremonies.
The recipients of the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for their outstanding careers in public service were Congresswoman Constance Morella (R-MD), U.S. Ambassador to Greece Nicholas Burns and Angene George Rafferty of Washington, DC
Hellenic Heritage Achievement Awards were presented to Mr. Nick Bouras, President of Bouras Industries, Inc., and to the Yeonas Brothers—Stephen and posthumously Constantine, Paul and Jimmie—family home builders.
In her acceptance speech, Congresswoman Morella stressed her advocacy of issues regarding Greece and Cyprus and vowed to work with her colleagues in Congress toward a resolution. “I and other members of Congress really want a resolution to the crisis in Cyprus. We are now into the 27th year of the illegal Turkish invasion and it is time for something positive to happen.” She also stressed the need for “peace in the Aegean, protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.”
Ambassador Burns echoed Congresswoman Morella’s sentiments about Cyprus in his acceptance speech, stating: “We should want for Cyprus what we want for ourselves—and that is self-determination and peace and unity, not division after 27 years.” Amb. Burns also spoke of the importance of the Greek American community in improving U.S. relations with Greece, stating that “[the work] of the Greek Americans is more important than what governments do.”
The Ambassador touched on some of the same themes he had iterated earlier in the day at a breakfast presentation for AHI members. At the breakfast, Ambassador Burns gave a fascinating discussion on the history and current state of U.S.-Greece relations. He elaborated on the recent meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and Foreign Minister George Papandreou and explored many aspects of the bi-lateral relationship, commenting that for the U.S., “Greece is the most important country in Southeast Europe.”
The recipients of the Hellenic Heritage awards placed great emphasis on the values of education, hard work, family support and volunteerism. They spoke of their Greek heritage and their faith. They accepted their awards with gratitude and humility, expressing the hope that they would be an inspiration to others.
Some highlights of their remarks include:
Mrs. Rafferty: “I am honored and humbled to be before you this evening as the recipient of the Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award which I consider a tribute to not just me but to all of us who have worked together on so many projects over the years.”
Mr. Steve Yeonas, on behalf of his family: “We Greeks have made an enormous contribution to this country. You cannot travel this city without seeing our influence....What is the foundation of our communal lives? It is our family, our faith and our friends. It is the fellowship we celebrate this evening.”
Mr. Bouras: “I have to thank my father and my mother for being such wonderful parents to me and for teaching us to be good, honest citizens in this country and to love everything that is Greek, including our heritage, our religion, and being a good person.”
The honorees were introduced by friends and associates with distinguished records in their own professional fields: Mr. Peter Gus Pappas, President, Pete Pappas & Sons, Inc. (Mrs. Rafferty); Mr. George C. Yeonas, CEO of the Fortress Group (the Yeonas Brothers); Ambassador Patrick Theros, President, U.S.-Qatar Business Council (Congresswoman Morella); Mr. George Behrakis, President, the Behrakis Foundation (Mr. Bouras); and Mr. Eugene T. Rossides, President, AHIF (Amb. Burns).
In their remarks, the introducers praised the honorees both for their outstanding personal accomplishments and for the service they had rendered to their communities and to the cause of Hellenism.
Other prominent guests included:
Presidents and executives of Greek American organizations: Mr. Demo Kolaras, Executive Director, Order of AHEPA; Professor Van Coufoudakis, Chairman, Foundation for Hellenic Studies and Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana-Purdue University; Mr. Andreas Pericli, President, Pan-Cyprian Association the Greater Metropolitan Washington Area; Mr. Ted Spyropoulos, President, Hellenic American National Council (HANC); Stacey Sava, President, Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC); Ms. Nina Peropoulos, President of the Pan-Macedonian Association of America; and Mr. Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, representing the Western Policy Center.
Former honorees: Dr. Stamatis Krimigis; Dr. Ted Lyras; Ms. Dora Hancock, former president of HAWC; Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL); Mr. George Behrakis; and Mr. Peter Zourdos.
Others: Mr. Donald Neese, Director for Western Europe, Lockheed Martin, who led a delegation of company executives; Ms. Ketty Tzizikosta, President, UNESCO Center for Women and Peace; Mr. Steve Manta, former Supreme President of the Order of AHEPA; Mr. George Spyropoulos, a founding member of AHI and a major Hellenic House Benefactor; Ms. Dorie Klissas, a producer at the NBC “Today Show”; Mr. Jim Lagos, Lagos and Lagos LLP; Mr. Alkis Panagoulias, former national team coach for Greece and Team America.
Athens Mayor's Honor to AHI Highlights Successful Inaugural Delegation Trip to Greece and Cyprus
AHI capped off a successful inaugural delegation trip to Greece and Cyprus with a ceremony at City Hall in Athens where Athens Mayor Dimitrios Avramopoulos presented the Institute with the Medal of the City in recognition of its “efforts to strengthen U.S.-Greek relations and for the advancement of the national issues.”
The delegation, which started its trip in Nicosia, Cyprus on November 26, 2000 and returned on December 9, 2000, also traveled to Thessaloniki and Athens, where they held substantive talks with government officials, diplomats, academics, and businessmen. At the conclusion of their travels, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis termed the trip “a highly informative and successful series of meetings between our members and Greek and Cypriot leaders in the public and private sectors.” Mr. Larigakis said that the trip “was important in helping to project AHI’s goals and objectives in Greece and Cyprus,” a fact which, he believes, will lead to new opportunities for close cooperation between the U.S. and these two countries.
The AHI delegation consisted of approximately 20 members and was led by AHI founder Gene Rossides. Other members comprising the delegations included: AHIPAC Chairman Nicholas Chimicles, Philadelphia, PA; AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, Washington, DC; Kostas Alexakis, Northern Virginia; Gus Andy, Miami, FL; Professor Van Coufoudakis and Marion Coufoudakis, Ft. Wayne, IN; Helen Coufoudakis, Chicago, IL; Mark Karras, California; Paul Kotrotsios, Philadelphia, PA; Metaxia Kousoumbos, New Jersey; Dr. Ted Lyras, New Jersey; George Mermelas, Clearwater, FL; Mr. and Mrs. Alkis Panagoulias, Northern Virginia; Peter C. Pappas, Esq., Washington, DC; Mr. and Mrs. Timoleon Pappas, Athens, Greece; Prof. George Tsetsekos, Philadelphia, PA; Stavros Veletsis, Northern Virginia; Mr. and Mrs. Timos Zavitsianos, Miami, FL; and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
For a full account of the AHI delegation’s inaugural trip, please refer to the enclosed Annual Report 2000, or to our Web site at www.ahiworld.org/press2000.html.
AHI letters were published in several major national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor and The Washington Times. Brief summaries of each of the responses attest to AHI’s continued commitment to address the various issues appearing in the media which concern its members and the Greek American community at-large:
“Don’t Underestimate the Turkish Military”
The Washington Times published AHI founder Eugene Rossides’ response to an April 24, 2001 commentary article by Dr. Amos Perlmutter that views Turkey as “a most significant strategic, political and cultural ally of the United States.” According to Dr. Perlmutter’s editorial, “The military in Turkey has demonstrated over the last 50 years that it is dedicated to sustaining a democratic political system, even at the price of political weakness.”
To counter Dr. Perlmutter’s defense of the Turkish military’s involvement in the government and its purported support of democratic norms, the following arguments are posed in Mr. Rossides’ opinion editorial:
“The Turkish military controls foreign and domestic policy under the Turkish constitution and its political control is augmented and supported by its ownership of substantial business and financial assets and control of its own budget—amounting to one-third of state revenues.”
Mr. Rossides further points out that “military control of the government—whatever the extent of that control—is inherently non-democratic. Furthermore, the degree of control exercised by the Turkish military is the leading cause for 17 failed IMF bailouts of Turkey from financial crises experienced over the past decades. Mr. Rossides closes his argument by asserting that a genuine democracy in Turkey is in the best interests of the U.S., Turkey’s neighbors and the Turkish people.
“Northern Cypriots Not Content with Turkish Rule?”
On March 16, 2001 the AHI sent a letter to the editor of The Washington Times responding to two recently published articles. These articles include statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on the Cyprus problem and the impact of the Turkish financial crisis on the Turkish Cypriots. The AHI’s opinion editorial was published on March 21, 2001.
In the letter, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis highlights the increasing dissatisfaction and frustration of the Turkish Cypriots with the way Denktash handles the Cyprus issue, as illustrated by demonstrations last summer by Turkish Cypriots in the occupied area for peace now and a united Cyprus. Mr. Larigakis finally cautions that the real hurdle to a resolution of the Cyprus problem is the domination of the Turkish military and its unwillingness to work in good faith for a solution.
"Greece No Slacker on Terrorism”
In a letter to the editor of The Christian Science Monitor, AHI Founder and General Counsel Gene Rossides responds to a February 14, 2001 opinion piece titled “Don’t ignore Greek terrorism,” by Wayne E. Merry. In his article, Mr. Merry alleges that Greece has done little to combat the threat of terrorism in connection with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
According to AHI’s response, Mr. Merry’s views “are not shared by the State Department. On February 9, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated: ‘I am confident that the authorities will do everything to make sure that the Games go off in a safe manner. I have confidence in their ability to make this happen.’”
The editorial also points out that “the U.S. and Greek governments have developed a close working relationship to fight terrorism. New cooperation agreements have been signed with the FBI and new laws enacted to facilitate investigations. Athens is looking forward to peaceful Games, but is formidably prepared for any challenge.”
“Silk Road Is Wrong Path for U.S. Relations with Turkey”
The following statements have been clipped from an AHI letter to the editor, published in the January 23, 2001 issue of The Washington Times. These statements respond to Norman Levine’s points about Turkey’s future relations with the U.S. and Western Europe. Fostering Turkey’s emergence as a stable and economically prosperous country is in the United States’ interest. However, the article is based on misleading premises and suffers from a crucial omission.
“….At present, the Turkish military exercises final control over all important matters of state. This is a highly anomalous situation which produces disastrous results not just for the Western community but for the citizens of Turkey as well.”
“Further, the military is responsible for retarding prospects for a Cyprus settlement and for stoking animosity toward Greece by raising unsupported claims in the Aegean Sea.”
The response letter advises that the best course for U.S. policy is not to involve itself in Turkey’s anti-democratic structures, but to encourage urgent and vigorous reform.
AHI has also sent letters to The Washington Post and The New York Times on separate occasions in response to articles published in these newspapers:
On March 2, 2001, the AHI sent letters to the editors of The Washington Post and The New York Times responding to articles about the current financial scandals in Turkey.
Then, on April 17, 2001, AHI responded to a New York Times article by Douglas Frantz concerning Turkey’s economic crisis (April 12, 2001, “Economic Protest in Turkey Turns into a Melee”). According to the AHI opinion editorial, Frantz’s article neglects the most significant cause of Turkey’s perennial financial and political instability: the political and economic power of the Turkish military.
Gene Rossides Feature Interview Appears in Major Greek American Newspaper
A front-page feature interview appeared on AHI founder and General Counsel Gene Rossides in The National Herald’s April 28-29, 2001 edition. According to the article:
“Eugene Rossides has made a mark in the conscience of Greek Americans as one of the most vivid and persistent proponents of sound Greek American relations based on mutual history, interests and understanding….Rossides has fearlessly taken on politicians of both parties when he believes that they view the Greek-American relationship through the narrow prism of cynicism and short-term gain.”
The full text of this article has been included in the current mailing.
In this wide-ranging interview with The National Herald, Mr. Rossides spoke of the current state of Greek American relations, reminisced about the turbulent decades after 1974 and put forth his vision of AHI’s future.
AHI Hosts Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day
To commemorate the 180th Anniversary of Greek Independence, AHI hosted “A Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” in the foyer of the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill on March 28, 2001. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), and the Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC), and was attended by approximately 300 people.
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis welcomed the guests and thanked Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for their support in organizing the reception. Demo Kolaras, Executive Director of AHEPA, Aki C. Bayz, Legal Counsel for HANC, and Maria Stamoulas, Vice President of HAWC, delivered greetings to the audience. Mr. Larigakis thanked each of them for the invaluable support of their respective organizations in organizing the reception. Greek Ambassador Alexander Philon and Cypriot Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis also offered brief remarks and spoke of the importance of this holiday.
Numerous members of Congress attended the reception. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) addressed the audience. All the speakers reaffirmed their commitment to finding a just and permanent solution to the Cyprus problem based on UN resolutions and democratic principles. They also stressed that the rule of law must prevail in the Cyprus problem and in the Aegean.
Grigoris Niotis, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece
The Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Grigoris Niotis, accompanied by the Ambassador of Greece to the U.S., Alexander Philon, visited Hellenic House on March 23, 2001. The Greek officials met with AHI founder Eugene Rossides, AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karembelas, AHI Advisory Committee member Kostas Alexakis, Northern Virginia member Steve Veletsis, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
Ioannis Kasoulides, Foreign Minister of Cyprus
The Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Ioannis Kasoulides, accompanied by the Cypriot Ambassador to the U.S. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, visited Hellenic House on April 6, 2001. The Cypriot officials met with AHI founder Gene Rossides, Chairman James Marketos, Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Legal Counsel Nick Karembelas, and the AHI staff for a one-hour meeting.
The Honorable Evangelos Dimitriou, Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki
On Tuesday, May 1, 2001, AHI and Hermes Expo International held a special reception at the Hellenic House in honor of the Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Evangelos Dimitriou, and an accompanying delegation visiting the U.S. from Greece. The delegation, along with AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, arrived at the Hellenic House following an afternoon meeting on Capitol Hill with Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) where they discussed various points of interest and mutual concern regarding the U.S., Greece and Cyprus.
Helen Coutsibou, Greek Secretary General of Administrative and Organizational Affairs
The Secretary General of Administrative and Organizational Affairs of the Greek Foreign Ministry, Helen Coutsibou, accompanied by the Greek Ambassador to the U.S., Alexander Philon, visited Hellenic House on April 19, 2001. The Greek officials met with AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Legal Counsel Nick Karembelas, AHI Advisory Committee member Kostas Alexakis, Northern Virginia member Steve Veletsis and the AHI staff for a one-hour meeting.
AHI Executive Director Visits Florida to Take Part in Greek Independence Day Celebrations
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis traveled to Florida to participate in Greek Independence Day celebrations that were held in Tarpon Springs on March 17-18, 2001. Mr. Larigakis was invited to be one of the honorary grand marshals of the parade in which Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Grigoris Niotis served as the grand marshal. The parade was attended by thousands of Greek and Cypriot Americans from throughout Florida. Helping to organize the parade was AHI member George Mermelas, along with his partners from the Greek Voice radio program in Tarpon Springs.
Mr. Larigakis continued his travels to Florida by visiting Naples, Miami, and Boca Raton. In Naples, Mr. Larigakis attended a reception organized by Mr. Thomas Kyrus and the Men’s Club of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church of Naples. In Miami, Mr. Timos Zavitsianos, President of the AHI Miami Chapter, organized a dinner for Mr. Larigakis that was attended by AHI members from the Miami area. Mr. Larigakis concluded his Florida trip by attending a wine and cheese reception in Boca Raton at the lovely home of longtime AHI members Mr. and Mrs. Lou Nicozisis.
Mr. Larigakis’ trip to Florida allowed him to discuss the recent activities of AHI and to outline AHI’s public policy statements and activities for the remainder of 2001. Florida remains a vital branch of the Greek-American community, and Mr. Larigakis’ trip strengthened the connection between AHI and its Florida members.
AHI Delaware Chapter Members Meet With Congressman Castle
On Friday, April 6, 2001, AHI Delaware Chapter members met with their representative, Congressman Michael Castle (R-DE) to discuss issues related to U.S.-Greece-Cyprus relations.
AHI Northern Virginia Chapter Holds Successful Networking Event
On Friday, April 27, 2001, the Northern Virginia Chapter of AHI held a successful networking meeting at the home of Dennis and Denise Garbis in McLean, VA, with more than 40 people in attendance. The master of ceremonies was Captain Christos Zirps, U.S. Navy (retired). The main speaker for the evening was Philip Rodokanakis of Oak Hill, VA. Mr. Rodokanakis, a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer and Director of Operations for Virginia’s Fairfax County Republican Party, spoke on the gubernatorial selection process in Virginia.
American Hellenic Institute Releases 2001 Greek American Policy Statements
On February 9, 2001, AHI released the 2001 Greek American Policy Statements. This year’s statements were prepared by AHI and reviewed and endorsed by these key Greek American membership organizations, including AHI:
The Policy Statements highlight the significant changes taking place in the political, security and economic landscape in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean region. They stress the strategic importance of Greece and Cyprus as regional partners of the United States. As vigorous, prosperous and stable democracies, they are a source of regional political and economic leadership that offers the opportunity to make a decisive advance for U.S. national interests in the region.
The AHI 2001 Greek American Policy Statements were sent in a previous February 2001 mailing. To receive another copy of the Policy Statements, please contact AHI at (202) 785-8430, or visit our Web site atwww.ahiworld.org/policystatement.html to download a complete version of the report.
AHIPAC Chairman Nicholas Chimicles’ Testimony to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations
On March 28, 2001, American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC) Chairman Nicholas Chimicles submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs on behalf of AHIPAC, the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA), the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), the Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC), the Pan-Macedonian Association of America, the Pan-Cretan Association of America, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Pan Laconian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada, the Panepirotic Federation of America, and the Pan Karpathian Educational Progressive Association.
Exhibits to Mr. Chimicles’ testimony included the 2001 Greek American Policy Statements and a letter to President Bush by AHI founder Eugene Rossides concerning Turkey’s current financial crisis with attached article by Ambassador Eric Rouleau entitled “Turkey’s Dream of Democracy” (Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000).
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis appeared for Mr. Chimicles at the hearing and presented oral testimony on his behalf.
AHI Issues Statement on Cyprus Negotiations
On January 11, 2001, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released a statement on the Turkish Cypriot decision to withdraw from the next round of proximity talks on Cyprus, due to be held in Geneva, Switzerland later that month.
According to the statement, “The American Hellenic Institute notes with regret the decision by the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Rauf Denktash to withdraw from the UN sponsored proximity talks on Cyprus. AHI regards this as an irresponsible act, indicative of a lack of good will and commitment to the settlement process by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.”
AHI further notes that Denktash’s reason for withdrawal lies in his demand for recognition of the occupied areas of Cyprus as a sovereign entity. This demand conflicts with the international consensus, expressed in successive UN Security Council resolutions, that a Cyprus settlement must be based on a ‘bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty.’
The statement sights the military-controlled government of Turkey as ultimately responsible for Denktash’s intransigence. AHI calls on Turkey to immediately withdraw its influence over Denktash and to respect international law by reversing Denktash’s rejectionist position. The U.S. is also urged to remain actively engaged in the negotiation process.
AHI Sends Letters to President Bush Regarding Key Issues
March 12, 2001
On March 12, 2001, AHI General Counsel Gene Rossides sent a letter to President George W. Bush regarding the present financial crisis in Turkey with suggestions as to how the U.S., the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank should respond to the situation in the best interests of the U.S.
In his letter, Mr. Rossides highlighted the fact that the Turkish financial crisis has important implications for overall U.S. relations in the Eastern Mediterranean and particularly with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Mr. Rossides also noted that the current emergency is only the latest in a string of Turkish economic crises. Past efforts by the U.S. and the IMF to stabilize the Turkish economy have failed because they have not identified and addressed the root cause of the financial instability: the Turkish military’s stronghold over foreign and domestic policy.
Mr. Rossides concluded by calling on President Bush to critically review U.S. policy toward Turkey and to pressure Ankara’s military elite into instituting wide-ranging reforms to bring genuine democracy to the Turkish people.
May 9, 2001
As a follow-up to the March 12, 2001 letter to President Bush, AHI sent another letter to the President regarding the IMF and World Bank’s decision to loan Turkey an additional $10 billion. While AHI applauded certain positions of Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill regarding conditions surrounding disbursement of the loans, it was noted with disappointment that the following elements were omitted:
According to AHI’s letter, “American values spearheaded by the rule of law should be the keystone for U.S. foreign policy. Through its unlawful 1974 invasion of Cyprus, Turkey violated the UN Charter, the NATO Treaty, U.S. laws and bilateral agreements, as well as international law.
May 15, 2001
In response to the recent surge of violence between ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and security forces of the FYROM, AHI sent a letter to President Bush to urge that the United States consider taking an active role in the situation by putting greater political and military pressure on the guerrilla forces. Included among the recommended actions to be taken by the U.S. were:
The recommended actions were urged primarily as the violence perpetrated by the Albanian rebels risks dividing the FYROM and plunging the nation into civil war. On a wider scale, the U.S. has a strategic interest in actively helping government forces to avert a greater Balkan conflict. Such a conflict will cause countless political and economic problems for Greece, a key NATO ally, who will shoulder some of the burden of any resultant refugee crisis, and may ultimately experience threats to its territorial integrity.
AHI Issues Statement Supporting Pan-Macedonian Association of America on Recent Macedonian Initiatives
On March 17, 2001 the AHI Board of Directors issued the following statement supporting the Pan-Macedonian Association of America for its crucial efforts to protect the cultural heritage of Macedonia and all Hellenes in light of the recent talks between the governments of Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
“The American Hellenic Institutes and its affiliate organizations support the efforts of the Pan-Macedonian Association of America to protect the cultural heritage and patrimony of all Macedons and Hellenes. The AHI expresses its concern that the current negotiations between the government of Greece and the government in Skopje to resolve the ‘name’ issue may cause irreparable damage to the Hellenic heritage of Greece’s northern state. The AHI joins with the Pan-Macedonian Association in continuing to work toward a resolution with the government in Skopje that protects and unambiguously reaffirms the Greek character of Macedonia and its inhabitants.”
BUSINESS NETWORK AT WORK
AHI Hosts Nicholas Gage for Discussion and Book Signing at Baltimore Networking Reception
Highly-acclaimed author and film producer Nicholas Gage highlighted the evening as guest speaker for AHI’s Baltimore Networking Reception on April 19, 2001 at the Renaissance Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore. Mr. Gage provided insights into his motivation and experiences writing Greek Fire, The Story of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onasis, as well as a brief synopsis of this best-selling dual biography. Attendees were given a first-hand account of how Mr. Gage used his well-honed investigative skills to uncover new information about the fateful romance of two of the most famous Greeks of the twentieth century.
Mr. Kostas Alexakis, the chairperson for the event and Chairman of Public Sector Solutions, welcomed attendees and provided a brief history of the dramatic life events that created the raw material for Mr. Gage’s books.
The Host Committee for this event included: Tim Chriss, Esq. of Gordon Fineblatt; Kyriakos Efthimiadis of MMG Marble & Granite; the Law Firm of Sfikas, Karambelas & Akaras, LLP; Dr. Van Lomis, Site Clinical Director at Potomac Physicians P.A.; Deme Ann Lomis, Chairperson of the St. Demetrios Pre School Committee; Ioanna Morfessis, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Alliance; Dr. Pete N. Nickolas, Vice President of Drs. Meyers & Nickolas P.A.; Michael Sabracos, Vice President of Corridor Commercial Real Estate Group, Inc.; Savvas Savopoulos, President of American Iron Works, Inc.; Evangelos D. Sidou, Esq. of the Law Offices of Evangelos D. Sidou; and George P. Stamas, Vice Chairman of the Board at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.
Atlanta Networking Reception Features Mike Galanos, CNN/si Sports Anchor
On Wednesday, May 16, 2001, AHI hosted a networking reception at Atlanta’s JW Marriott Hotel at Lenox featuring celebrated CNN/si sports anchor Mike Galanos. Mr. Galanos retraced his steps to success in the world of sports journalism, from his early days as a video journalist for CNN Headline 5ews to his prominent position today. Also discussed was the current state of the sports world, broaching topics such as the high rate of sports salaries and sports personalities.
The event opened with a prayer from Father George Alexson of the Annunciation Cathedral in Atlanta, GA, and was moderated by event chairperson Eli P. Karatassos. As Director of Fundraising at the Foundation for Hellenic Studies, Mr. Karatassos delivered a brief overview of how the program is progressing in Atlanta, and then introduced the guest-of-honor.
Mike Galanos offered a wealth of knowledge for AHI Business Network event participants. Mr. Galanos’ strongest piece of advice was: “If you have a dream, don’t give up on it.” He suggested that, while the communications business is a difficult one to crack, it is possible to succeed in the industry with talent, hard work, perseverance and some good fortune.
Following the event, Mr. Galanos gave AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and AHI Advisory Committee member Kostas Alexakis a private tour of the studios at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. As an added benefit, both Mr. Larigakis and Mr. Alexakis were featured on-air during one of the broadcasts that evening.
The Host Committee for the event included: Eli P. Karatassos, event chairperson and Director of Fundraising at the American Foundation for Hellenic Studies; C.G. Alexandrides, Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University; Kostas Alexakis, Chairman of Public Sector Solutions; Johnny N. Economy, President of Zomma Enterprises, Inc.; Leo Frangis of Kanes, Benator & Co., L.L.C.; I. Pano Karatassos, President of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group; George Kleris, M.D.; the Laconian Society of Atlanta; Kyriakos Michaelides, M.D., the Honorary Consul of Cyprus; and Alec Papadakis, Esq., Managing Partner at Hurt, Levine & Papadakis.
Energy Solutions for the Future
With 25 years of corporate management, project development and energy research experience embodied in Founder and CEO Christian Demeter, it is no wonder why Antares Group Inc. has reached the level of success that it enjoys today.
Launched in 1992 bhrough the insight and collaboration of Mr. Demeter and two other partners, the Antares Group is a consulting firm that helps industry and government introduce emerging energy technologies into the power, transportation and commercial sectors. The firm’s ultimate goal is to facilitate the use of clean electric power and transportation fuels, and to help energy users in making environmentally and economically sound choices on their energy use.
Mr. Demeter’s company currently has 27 employees, all professionals with backgrounds in engineering, environmental analysis, economics, law, physical science, and chemical science. A premium is placed on attracting highly skilled employees to these positions. Employees are given significant managerial and decision-making responsibilities which are critical in building the tremendous company cohesion and sense of loyalty that Antares Group enjoys.
Mr. Demeter plays a key role in providing strategic vision, marketing and financial oversight over all areas of business management and operations at the company. He also is responsible for providing policy, economic and financial analysis support to producers and consumers in the electric power and transportation sectors encompassing fossil and renewable fuels and energy efficiency. Antares Group’s clients include: the U.S. Agency for International Development; the World Bank Group; government agencies such as the Department of Energy and their several National Laboratories and the Department of Transportation; and a number of private sector power companies, equipment manufacturing companies and industrial end-users of power.
Mr. Demeter’s inspiration for founding Antares Group began with his “deep desire to find ways of providing energy…and to do that in the cleanest way possible.” To add to this, he has been strongly influenced by his Hellenic heritage and his Greek Orthodox faith. Regarding his quest for cleaner energy alternatives, Mr. Demeter believes that “it plays also into our Orthodox faith. Very importantly, this is God’s creation and we should take care of it properly.
Mr. Demeter also traces his basic interest in science and innovation to the ancient Greeks. The same spirit of inquiry that the scientists and philosophers of ancient Greece lived by form the basic foundation of current scientific inquiry and innovation. This is the same spirit of inquiry that has inspired Mr. Demeter throughout his career and in building Antares Group. According to Mr. Demeter, “The Greeks were the premiere scientists and their spirit of inquiry laid the foundations for many of the technologies that we enjoy today.”
Forging a Path to Success
The name Nicholas Group of Plastic Companies marks yet another chapter in the more than 40 year history of work, sacrifice and initiative that have gone into the career and business endeavors of James S. Nicholas, founder of the Nicholas Group of Plastics. The mission of Nicholas Plastics is to excel as a value-added supplier of plastic products which strengthens the competitive position of their customers. The man behind this mission has been instrumental in getting the company where it is today.
James S. Nicholas was born in Patras, Greece in 1928. One year later, his parents emigrated to Grand Rapids, MI. However, in 1934 his mother took the children back to Patras to take care of an ailing family member. It was in Greece where Mr. Nicholas received most of his schooling, and where he also bore witness to the tragedy that befell Greece during the war years.
In 1947, Mr. Nicholas was able to return to the United States with his two brothers and made his way back to Grand Rapids. After having witnessed the suffering of his parents and his family during the war years, Mr. Nicholas recounts that “I had resolved to make a success of myself because of the many needs that my family had.” This resolution was where the road to his entrepreneurial dream began.
According to Mr. Nicholas, “My fascination with chemistry and making things led me to manufacturing.” With his younger brother, Arthur, Mr. Nicholas went into the plastics business in 1959. After a bumpy start, the growing prominence of the automobile safety issue during the early 1960s propelled their company to success as the demand for car seat belts soared and the brothers “hit it big” with contracts to supply seat belt boots and components.
The Nicholas brothers merged their company in 1968 with U.S. Industries and Mr. Nicholas retired soon after, earning his contingency at the young age of 40. However in 1971, Mr. Nicholas reentered the manufacturing business, but set up a new challenge for himself by delving into a different line of products. He bought a controlling interest in the Grand Rapids Packaging Company, makers of corrugated shipping cartons. Over the next nine years, another successful company was built from this endeavor, and Jim Nicholas was again able to retire a second time in 1978.
This retirement period was short-lived as Mr. Nicholas was soon presented with the opportunity to acquire a local firm called Sackner Products Company. Nicholas saw that the opportunity was a solid one, so he bought the company and changed the name to Nicholas Plastics Corporation. Since that time, Mr. Nicholas has been involved in Nicholas Plastics, which has grown into a medium-sized company of approximately 600 employees and three operations working under the Nicholas Plastics umbrella.
Jim Nicholas is an active member of the Greek American community. He is a member of the Holy Trinity parish in Grand Rapids, and has been president of the Board of Trustees three times. He was appointed to the Diocesan Council of the Detroit Diocese, is a member of Leadership 100, and has been involved with AHEPA as Governor of the 10th District. Mr. Nicholas has served as an active advisor and supporter of AHI throughout the years, from the organization’s inception. Mr. Nicholas is also active in the community at-large.
As to the AHI, Mr. Nicholas states that “the Institute has done an outstanding job. I believe they’re focused. I believe they’re polished. I believe they’re savvy. And they represent the very best side of us. I am very proud of them.” He sees it as critical to get Americans of Hellenic descent active in a cohesive organization, as well as help Greece and Cyprus.
Co-owned and operated by AHI member Steve Veletsis, Design Cuisine played an important role in this year’s Presidential Inauguration festivities: that of caterer for the landmark event. Coverage of Design Cuisine’s contribution to the inaugural fanfare appeared in a New York Times Sunday, January 21, 2001 article titled “A Hot Meal Is Enjoyed In A Hurry By Bush.” The lunch, prepared through the hard work of Veletsis’ Design Cuisine, was “the most select event of the inaugural activities, takes months to plan, a considerable amount of overnight activity and a fair amount of prelunch frenzy, yet it must be consumed in an hour so that the new president can get to the parade on time.”
The E*TRADE Group announced on April 26, 2001 the appointment of John Metaxas, former financial news anchor for CNN, as chief corporate communications and government affairs officer. In his new role, Mr. Metaxas will lead E*TRADE’s internal and external corporate communications teams, as well as its investor relations and government affairs practices.
Drexel and MCP Hahnemann Universities President Constantine Papadakis received the 2001 “Heart of Philadelphia” Award on Saturday, February 24, 2001, at the 44th Annual American Heart Association Heart Ball.
The “Heart of Philadelphia” Award is presented annually to an individual whose leadership and dedication best exemplify Philadelphia’s giving spirit. Since Mr. Papadakis became Drexel’s president in 1995, the University’s undergraduate applications, endowment and annual fund have tripled. Full-time undergraduate enrollment, research funding, overall philanthropy, net assets, active co-op employers and student co-ops have doubled.
On January 2, 2001, CBS 2 in New York City welcomed back to their studios premiere news journalist Ernie Anastos. Mr. Anastos has covered major stories in the New York area at CBS 2, WABC-TV and most recently at WWOR-TV. He has also gained national experience as a news anchor and reporter for CBS This Morning, CBS Up to the Minute and a substitute host for ABC’s Good Morning America.
Mr. Anastos is currently co-anchoring The News at 6 with Dana Tyler and Nightcast with Angela Rae.
Demetrios A. Boutris
California Governor Gray Davis named Demetrios A. Boutris, 39, his Legal Affairs Secretary and Chief Counsel, to the post of California Corporations Commissioner and Special Counsel to the Governor on January 29, 2001. Mr. Boutris will continue serving as the Governor’s Special Counsel. He “look[s] forward to continuing to faithfully implement the Governor’s vision of an economically vibrant, well-educated and dynamic California in my next posting on his behalf.”
Veras Communications Incorporated (VCI) President and Executive Producer George Veras and producers Jeff Filippi and Ron Rudaitis were named recipients of a producer Sports Emmy for their productions of Lou Gehrig and Arnold Palmer for the ESPN Classic Edited Series, Sports Century: The Top 50 and Beyond. It was Mr. Veras’ ninth trophy-case statue. VCI is a television production company for documentaries, music television and sports events.
George Mermelas headed up a successful public relations campaign this year for the Greek Independence Day Parade Committee of Tampa Bay, Florida. Greek Independence Day celebrations for the area were held in Tarpon Springs on March 17-18, 2001. Mr. Mermelas was instrumental in arranging for a Greek American delegation to visit the Florida State House and Governor Jeb Bush on the occasion of Greek Independence Day.