May 1, 2006— Volume 33, Number 233
AHI Meets with Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns
On April 24, 2006, AHI leadership met with the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns at the State Department to discuss issues of concern regarding U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. In the forty-five minute meeting, the discussion centered on the current state of U.S.-Greece relations. Also discussed was Cyprus, of which Mr. Burns affirmed that the U.S. recognizes only one government on Cyprus and that there is “no policy of creeping recognition” as it relates to the Turkish Cypriots. Mr. Burns expressed his hope that talks could begin again after the Cypriot elections in May and that the U.S. will be “very active in the process. We’re going to be the honest broker.” he said. Other items discussed during the meeting included the Aegean, FYROM and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Also in the meeting were Matt Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Elise Mellinger, State Department Cyprus Desk Officer, and David Bame of Mr. Burns’ office.
Three Hierarchs Parish Honors AHI on Greek Letters Day
On January 29, 2006, AHI was honored for Greek Letters Day by the Three Hierarchs Parish in Brooklyn, New York. At a ceremony with 400 guests in attendance, the Reverend Archimandrite Eugene N. Pappas presented the Greek Letters award to AHI through President Gene Rossides, who was also accompanied by AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. In presenting the award, Reverend Archimandrite Eugene N. Pappas said: “The American Hellenic Institute is being honored for its exemplary and extraordinary service to the Greek American cause here and abroad…. It is to the American Hellenic Institute and its untiring endeavors and efforts to protect, preserve and foster global Hellenism that we are indebted as never before.”
31st Anniversary Awards Dinner Celebrated
On March 18, 2006, AHI honored a distinguished set of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 31st Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees were:
The master of ceremonies for the evening was Larry Michael. Mr. Michael is Senior Vice President and Executive Producer of Media for the Washington Redskins and the “Voice of Redskins Radio.” Guests were also treated to a musical interlude by Maria Forakis Pearce, lead singer of the Baltimore-based Greek band Apollonia, which also played for a festive two hours of dance music following the awards dinner.
The Evening’s Honorees
The first award recipient of the evening was the Daughters of Penelope, accepted by Grand President Mary B. Filou. The Daughters of Penelope were presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for the organization’s exceptional and tireless promotion of Hellenism, education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, family, and individual excellence.
The second honoree, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, was presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his commitment to public service and his support in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. In his acceptance remarks he stated, “AHI has always stood up for the importance of following the rule of law. And we can’t say one day we are going to follow the rule of law and the other day we won’t because by doing that we undermine our position.”
The National Philoptochos Society was then granted the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award, accepted by National President Georgia Skeadas. The National Philoptochos Society was recognized by AHI for its boundless charity and unflagging support of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and all its members.
Receiving the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements, dedicated philanthropy, and generous support of Hellenism, education and the Greek American community was Kyriakos Tsakopoulos. In his acceptance speech Mr. Tsakopoulos stated, “I am honored to accept this award in the name of my father Angelo Tsakopoulos and all the parents in this audience who have sacrificed to build an American dream for their children.”
Concluding the awards presentation, the Reverend Dr. John Theodore Tavlarides was given the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for upholding Greek Orthodoxy in the Nation’s Capital with vigor, knowledge, and wisdom for fifty years. “Whatever award I receive tonight is for this wonderful parish, this group of people that make up Saint Sophia somehow keep growing,” he stated in accepting his award.
To celebrate the awards weekend, a number of other events were planned in addition to the awards gala. These included a dinner in honor of AHI at the Greek Embassy and a Breakfast Briefing with Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Mike Biligrakis. These events are detailed below:
Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI
The awards weekend events were kicked off with an elegant dinner at the Greek Embassy on Friday, March 17, 2006. The dinner was hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias in honor of AHI for its significant contributions to the strengthening of ties between Greece and the U.S. This event was a tremendous success, attended by the maximum possible guests, 100 persons.
Breakfast Briefing With Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Mike Bilirakis
On the morning of March 18, 2006, AHI hosted a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton featuring Senator Paul Sarbanes and Congressman Mike Bilirakis. Both Senator Sarbanes and Congressman Bilirakis were presented with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for “their extraordinary public service to our Nation spanning decades in the U.S. Congress and their tireless efforts to foster our country’s stronger friendship and understanding with Greece and Cyprus.” Each delivered remarks about the importance of getting young people involved in the political process, and staying engaged in the Cyprus problem and other issues important to the Greek American community.
2006 Greek American Policy Statements Released
In April, the 2006 Greek American Policy Statements were released, prepared by AHI and endorsed by several major Greek American organizations. On an annual basis, the Policy Statements set forth positions on the issues of concern to the Greek American community and are always based on what is in the best interest of the U.S. Endorsing organizations this year include: the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Panepirotic Federation of America, the Pan-Macedonian Association of America, the Pan Cretan Association of America, and AHI.
To add emphasis to each of the issues addressed by the Policy Statements, the document was released in stages according to the following policy statement titles:
The Policy Statements highlight the significant changes taking place in the political, security and economic landscape of southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. They stress the strategic importance of Greece and Cyprus as regional partners of the U.S. As vigorous, prosperous and stable democracies, these countries are a source of regional leadership and they offer the U.S. an opportunity to advance its national interests in the region.
The 2006 Greek American Policy Statements can be viewed in full on AHI’s Web site at www.ahiworld.org/policy_statements_2006.html, or by contacting AHI headquarters for a copy at (202) 785-8430.
AHI Hosts Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day
On April 4, 2006, AHI hosted its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 185th Anniversary of Greek Independence and the common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus’s co-sponsors, Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
The program began with the singing of the Greek and American national anthems, performed by Stelios Kontakiotis and Christina Indianos. Additionally, there was a special presentation on “George Jarvis: An American Fighter for Greek Independence,” presented by AHI Chairman James Marketos.
Nick Larigakis, Master of Ceremonies, welcomed guests and introduced Greek Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Cypriot Ambassador Euripides L. Evriviades. Both ambassadors offered their greetings in honor of Greek Independence Day and fostering liberty, democracy and upholding freedom.
Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance): Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL). Also attending the reception were Rep. Philip English (R-PA), and Rep. James Moran (D-VA).
Each of the speakers emphasized their admiration for the Hellenic culture and for the val iant and inspiring struggle for Greek Independence, achieved nearly 200 years ago. They also expressed their wish for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue.
State Department Encouragement of Direct Trade with Occupied Cyprus Revealed
In early February 2006, State Department disclosures to AHI revealed some of the actual steps taken by the U.S. government since 2004 to encourage direct trade between the U.S. and northern occupied Cyprus. These steps directly contravene related UN resolutions and previous U.S. policy statements. The disclosures were made in the State Department’s January 23, 2006 response to AHI’s request for records under the Freedom of Information Act on July 21, 2005. In its response to AHI’s request, the State Department retrieved 11 documents. In total, five documents were released to AHI in full, two were released with excisions, three were not released, and the decision on one document “requires further interagency coordination.”
Notably, the documents assert that “a visit from [the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service]/Ankara to northern Cyprus would...send an important signal that the United States is doing all it can to help fulfill the promise of the international community to take steps to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.”
Testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee Submitted
On March 31, 2006, Nick Larigakis submitted testimony on behalf of AHI and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs. In the best interests of the U.S., AHI opposes all assistance programs to Turkey that may be in the bill because they are not based on Turkey meeting the following conditions:
AHI also stated its opposition to $15 million appropriated for Cyprus as not in the best interests of the U.S. because it is not tied exclusively to joint Greek and Turkish Cypriot communal projects. Instead, some of these projects upgrade the illegal regime in the north, thereby furthering the division of the island. AHI would support the aid if there is full transparency and accountability in the use of the funds, and if the funds are allocated for joint communal projects.
In addition, AHI opposed the Bush administration’s request to zero out the UN peacekeeping forces in Cyprus based on the assumption that they will not be needed. “As long as there are Turkish troops on the island and it remains divided, it is important to maintain a UN peacekeeping force,” asserted Larigakis.
Executive Director Speaks at AFGLC Educational Forum
On March 2-4, 2006, Nick Larigakis participated in a panel discussion at the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture’s (AFGLC) Eleventh Annual Educational Forum on “Hellenic Paideia: Challenges to Higher Education” at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The panel discussion in which he participated was titled, “The Mission of AFGLC and the Media.” Established by a group of Greek Americans and Philhellenes from across the country, the fundamental mission of the AFGLC is to assist in the preservation and enhancement of Greek Culture and Language in the United States through institutions of higher learning.
Washington Lawyer Magazine
AHI Advisory Committee Member and Legal Counsel Nicholas G. Karambelas’ book review on An International Relations Debacle (Hart, 2005), by Claire Palley, was published in the March 2006 issue of The Washington Lawyer Magazine. The book provides a detailed account of the most recent failed attempts to arrive at a settlement on the Cyprus issue between 1999 and 2004 via the Annan Plan.
The March/April 2006 issue of Odyssey Magazine featured an article titled, “Double Identity.” The article overviewed the Fourth Annual AHI Future of Hellenism in America Conference and the accompanying events which took place in New York in November 2005.
GreekCircle Magazine published an article titled, “What is the American Hellenic Institute?” in its Spring 2006 issue. In the article, AHI’s history, its current efforts at promoting U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus, and the other areas of its agenda were detailed.
The Washington Times
March 6, 2006
In his letter to the Washington Times’ editor, published on March 6, 2006, Nick Larigakis asserts that Nicholas Kralev’s article, “U.S. ready to trade with Turkish Cypriots,” displays a degree of misunderstanding of the laws and regulations that apply to the Republic of Cyprus and the overall realities regarding the Cyprus problem. Mr. Larigakis instead counters that, “If the U.S. really wants to be an honest broker for reunification, it should take its thumb off the scales.” Direct trade plans and other one-sided initiatives favoring the Turkish Cypriots should be dropped. Instead, Mr. Larigakis asserts that “the U.S. should get behind the successful integration measures already underway between the parties on the ground and support a settlement based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a sovereign state” in accordance with current international, EU and U.S. law.
The following op-eds, written by AHI founder Gene Rossides, were published in a number of Greek American publications. Summaries of each op-ed are provided below:
“The Year Ahead”
The National Herald (January 14, 2006)
Gene Rossides’ op-ed highlights the importance of the current election year for issues of concern to the Greek American community. This year, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate’s 100 members are up for reelection. As a result, AHI must double its work and be in contact each member of Congress, as well as his or her opponent. This provides a unique opportunity for AHI to promote its issues with the elected incumbents and their challengers. Furthermore, the op-ed asserts that incumbents who have avoided taking a position on Greek American issues will be more inclined to respond. Similarly, incumbents’ challengers look for issues of concern to their constituents, particularly if their sitting opponent has not taken a position.
“British Foreign Secretary a Mediator? It’s a Joke!”
The National Herald (February 11, 2006)
The op-ed written by Gene Rossides discusses the implications of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s January 24-25, 2006 visit to Cyprus, conducted to support a Turkish proposal for a four party high level meeting in May or June between Turkey, Greece, Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Straw was also seeking support for a plan to open Turkish ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes as required by the EU in return for the lifting of the legal restrictions on the ports and airports in the northern part of Cyprus. Mr. Rossides contests that, if the British are truly serious in their desire for a settlement and to help the Turkish Cypriots improve their condition, they would instead call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s 40,000 illegal occupation troops and 120,000 illegal settlers from Turkey. The British would also seek the removal of the Turkish military’s Green Line. All of these are the cause of the Turkish Cypriot’s economic problems.
“Turkey—Still Anti-American and a Problem”
The National Herald (March 13, 2006)
“Turkey is still strongly anti-American and continues to be a problem in the region for U.S. interests,” asserts Gene Rossides in his March op-ed. As an example, he points out that an anti-American and anti-Semitic Turkish film released in February 2006 titled “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” generated record breaking audiences in Turkey. He also asserts that the U.S. should conduct a full and critical review of its policy toward Turkey, and provides recent and historic examples of Turkey’s unreliability as an ally to America.
“Secretary Rice and Turkey: Tactical and Strategic Errors”
The National Herald (April 8, 2006)
Gene Rossides’ op-ed outlines a number of key tactical and strategic errors on the part of the U.S. as they relate to Turkey. These errors are attributable not only to the current Bush administration, but to historic U.S. policy in the region. Among other things, Mr. Rossides cites Turkey’s unreliability as an ally, its illegal invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus, and a range of other violations of international law. The op-ed urges readers to contact Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush to demand a critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations and policy.
“Turkey—Friend or Foe”
The National Herald (April 22, 2006)
Gene Rossides’ op-ed highlights virulent anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in Turkey, and asks several questions to help evaluate how relations with Turkey should be altered to better suit the real interests of the U.S. Specifically, he asks if Turkey is a reliable ally, and what Turkey’s strategic, political and economic value really is to the U.S. After analyzing evidence for each of these questions, he concludes that, “ Turkey is not a friend of the U.S.; that Turkey’s interests basically are not compatible with U.S. interests; that Turkey is of minimal strategic value to the U.S.; and that Turkey is clearly and fundamentally an unreliable ally.”
Modern Problems in an Ancient Land
On January 18, 2006, AHI hosted a Noon Forum titled “The Patriarchate of Jerusalem: Modern Problems in an Ancient Land.” The guest speaker for the event was Ambassador Patrick N. Theros, Representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the U.S. Ambassador Theros provided an overview of the Greek Orthodox Church’s long history in the region as a backdrop to the current crisis that the Jerusalem Patriarchate is facing. As a result of fraudulent property transactions in 2004 conducted by now-deposed Patriarch Ireneos, the Patriarchate continues to face near catastrophic financial and political problems from which it is still trying to extract itself today.
Meet and Greet with Sen. Johnson
Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) was AHI’s featured speaker during a Meet and Greet Noon Forum on January 23, 2006 at Hellenic House. The event provided attendees the opportunity to hear the senator’s views on a range of foreign and domestic issues, to ask questions, and to interact with the senator and some of his staff.
Initiatives for Balkan Stability
On February 9, 2006, AHI hosted a Noon Forum panel titled “The Balkans: Initiatives for Stability and Euro-American Interests.” Panel speakers included Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias and Professor Dimitris Keridis, who is Constantine Karamanlis Associate Professor in Hellenic and Southeastern European Studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. Professor Keridis overviewed issues related to the Balkans and discussed the region’s growing importance. He also spoke on Greece’s greater role in the Balkans, including the country’s heavy investment in the region. Ambassador Mallias commented on Greece’s shift in foreign policy priorities since the mid-1990s and how this shift has facilitated the country’s regional politics and its relations with the U.S. Ambassador Mallias identified reasons why the Balkans are an important region to Greece, and also discussed Greece’s strong support for Balkan nation memberships in the European Union.
Noon Forum with State Departments Joseph Parente
On February 23, 2006, AHI hosted a Meet and Greet Noon Forum with Joseph A. Parente, Greek Desk Officer at the State Department. Mr. Parente discussed his role, which includes coordinating bi-lateral relations between the two countries. He also touched on current issues concerning U.S.-Greece relations. His remarks were followed by a question-and-answer period and a short reception.
Greek Independence Day at AHI
On March 23, 2006, AHI hosted a Noon Forum to commemorate Greek Independence Day featuring as its speaker James Marketos, AHI Chairman and Attorney at Law, Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, L.L.P. The discussion, which was titled “George Jarvis: An American Fighter for Greek Independence,” provided insight into Jarvis’ experience and impressions fighting on the side of the Greeks during the War for Independence against the Turks.
Greek Parliamentarian Savas K. Tsitouridis
On February 2, 2006, Greek Member of Parliament Savas K. Tsitouridis of the New Democracy party visited AHI to meet with the organization’s leadership. Mr. Tsitouridis was in Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast. He was accompanied at AHI by his wife Maria Papadimitropoulou and Hellenic American Women’s Council (HAWC) President Theodora Hancock.
Greek NATO Delegation
On February 13, 2006, a Greek NATO delegation led by Ambassador Panayotis Zografos, Director D2 NATO-WEU Department at the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs, visited Hellenic House. The delegation members were in Washington to meet with their counterparts in the U.S. military establishment. The delegation included Commodore Ioannis Alvertos, Captain Athanasios Palaskas, Lt. Col. Alkiviadis Stefanis and Dr. Andreas Kintis.
Greek Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance Christos Folias
On March 23, 2006, the Greek Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance Christos Folias visited Hellenic House to meet with AHI leadership and staff. Folias was accompanied by Advisor to the Deputy Minister George Kottas and his Head of Cabinet Elisavet Typaldou-Loverdou. During the one-hour meeting, the discussion centered on new ways in which the Greek government is promoting investment in Greece. Deputy Minister Folias emphasized the new order of the economy toward doing business in Greece, the cut in corporate taxation, the goal of bringing the deficit below three percent, and efforts to reduce bureaucratic red tape. Additionally, he discussed a new incentives investment law designed to increase foreign investment in Greece.
Greek Minister of Education Marietta Giannakou-Koutsikou
On March 29, 2006, the Greek Minister of National Education and Religious Affairs Marietta Giannakou-Koutsikou, accompanied by a small delegation of her staff and advisers and by the Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias, visited Hellenic House. During the meeting with AHI leadership and staff, the discussion centered on new ways in which the Greek government is addressing higher education, including regulating the state system with new legislation, exchange programs, multi-cultural education including programs for minorities and human rights, as well as the training of teachers. Additionally, she discussed new language programs, creating European schools, and the teaching of Greek as a second language abroad.
May 2, 2006
AHI’s statement strongly criticized comments that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made regarding Cyprus during her April 25, 2006 visit to Athens. According to AHI, she reversed the role of the victim, the Greece Cypriots, with that of the aggressor, Turkey, by seeming to absolve Turkey of its numerous violations of international law in order, ultimately, to ease Turkey’s path to EU membership. The AHI statement further outlined that the Turkish Cypriot’s purported isolation could be removed if Turkey removed its illegal occupation troops, its illegal Turkish settlers, and the Turkish Green Line barbed wire fence. AHI urged the U.S. to be a true “honest broker” on the Cyprus issue.
March 16, 2006
AHI highlighted Senator Olympia J. Snowe’s (R-ME) March 9, 2006 remarks made on the Senate floor which commended the President of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos “for promoting a new U.N.-sponsored initiative to resolve the division of the island of Cyprus.” On February 28, 2006, President Papadopoulos met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and proposed that the U.N. appoint a special envoy for Cyprus to lay the groundwork for negotiations to end the division of Cyprus. President Papadopoulos also proposed a number of cross-community confidence-building measures to strengthen the foundation for reunification.
March 20, 2006
Following the AHI Annual Awards Dinner on March 18, 2006, the organization released excerpts of honoree Congressman Chris Van Hollen’s (D-MD) speech upon receiving the AHI National Public Service Award. In his comments, he commended Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos for his efforts at reinitiating talks on reunification and he called Turkey’s refusal to cooperate with the UN “unfortunate.” The congressman also asserted that the U.S. should honor the Greek Cypriot’s “no” vote on reunification as it was voted on democratically. Similarly, he stressed the importance of the rule of law for U.S. interests, and as it applies to the Cyprus situation.
March 30, 2006
AHI released an announcement highlighting Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-FL) March 28, 2006 speech on the House floor which commemorated the 185th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. The full text of her speech was included along with the AHI announcement.
February 3, 2006
AHI urged action alert recipients to contact The New York Times to protest a biased January 31, 2006 editorial (“The Way Forward for Turkey”), which blamed the Greek Cypriots for much of Turkey’s EU problems. According to AHI, the editorial omitted key facts, such as Turkeys continuing 32 year illegal military occupation of 37.3 percent of Cyprus, and the expulsions of over 180,000 Greek Cypriots from their homes. In fact, the editorial reversed the role of the victim, the Greek Cypriots, with that of the aggressor, Turkey. It also failed to comment on the obvious shortcomings of the Annan Plan, a number of which are set forth in AHI’s response.
February 16, 2006
AHI’s action alert urged members and friends to contact the Public Broadcast Service (PBS) to discourage it from airing a panel discussion that included Armenian genocide deniers. The panel was scheduled to be broadcast on April 17, 2006, a week before the annual Armenian Remembrance Day Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. It would air following a one-hour documentary titled “The Armenian Genocide” with the goal of promoting a two-sided view that included genocide deniers. Members could sign onto an on-line petition protesting the decision to air the panel discussion.
Investing in Greek Real Estate
On March 21, 2006, AHI hosted a business network luncheon on “Investing in Greek Real Estate: Opportunities in the Public and Private Sector” at the Capital Hilton Hotel with guest speaker Dr. Konstantinos Zacharopoulos, General Manager of the Tourism Development Co. (TDC) in Athens, Greece. TDC has launched a development project aimed at attracting private sector capital to develop public tourist properties, to promote tourist infrastructure with emphasis on special forms of tourism in accordance with the long-term goals of the Ministry of Tourism Development. The 2004 Athens Olympic Games, as well as the completion of major infrastructure projects throughout Greece, delivered a huge boost to Hellenic tourism, principally as a consequence of their important contribution to Greece’s economic development.
For additional information, Dr. Zacharopoulos’ presentation is available at: www.ahiworld.org/pdfs/zacharopoulos_speech.pdf. A list of “Development Projects Available” through TDC is also available at the following link: www.ahiworld.org/pdfs/zacharopoulos.pdf.
Meet Miss Virginia 2005!
When Kristi Lauren Glakas was crowned Miss Virginia 2005, the Greek American community had yet another name to add to its list of accomplished individuals. But given her past and current accomplishments, as well as her goals for the future, AHI member Glakas is just at the beginning of her ascent to success.
As Miss Virginia, Glakas was the State of Virginia’s entry into the 2006 Miss America pageant, where she was third runner-up. Also notable is that Glakas is one of six women in the nation to have held the Triple Crown—state titles for Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, and Miss America.
But beyond the pageants, being Miss Virginia has offered Glakas a range of opportunities, from meeting President George W. Bush to working in juvenile detention centers. The latter complements her research in juvenile justice research and advocacy. According to Glakas, “Every time I go to a facility, whether it’s minimum or maximum security, my life changes a little bit because I come into contact with these kids who are really from a different demographic than I’m familiar with. They teach me just as much as I teach them.”
Glakas currently attends George Mason University, where she is studying twentieth century English and pre-medicine. She plans to continue her education and earn a Doctorate of Medicine, becoming a physician and continuing her advocacy for children.
She has also worked as a professional public speaker for approximately seven years, and is growing her own business as a writer and a communications consultant, teaching media and business people, sports figures and pageant girls effective communications and interview skills. “I’m a big believe in income from multiple sources. I have a lot of projects going at once,” says Glakas.
Glakas, who will be joining the next AHI delegation trip to Greece in June 2006, will be heading to Dakkar, Senegal for a six week study abroad program soon after she gives up her Miss Virginia title this summer. While in Dakkar, she will spend a week at the American Cultural Institute at the Baobab Center to study the local language and history, and will also be learning Woolof. But for the majority of her program, she will live with a Senegalese family to learn first-hand about the culture, and at the same time will conduct an independent study on AIDS awareness, hoping to work in several different clinics while she is in Senegal.
Glakas sees these many and diverse experiences of hers as culminating well into a career in health. After all, “Medicine is about people,” points out Glakas. “[Medical school] admissions committees now are really looking for people who have a lot of writing background, a lot of communications background because it makes them a better doctor. Medicine is about wellness. It’s about extending the quality of life, health and wellness rather than taking care of sick people. It’s making me a well-rounded person.”
When asked about her Hellenic heritage, Glakas says, “It’s taught me a lot about family values, about tradition…. That’s been the most valuable thing to me is keeping the close ties to the Greek side of my family and carrying on the traditions.”
Of her contact with AHI and the broader ideals supported by the organization, “I think right now in our nation’s history, in the global environment, in the global community, it’s really important to lend an ear to the ideals that AHI promotes: democracy, and freedom, and appreciating tradition and heritage and all of the things that are so near and dear to a Greek’s heart, and to the Greek community,” says Glakas.
Anticipating her upcoming participation in the June AHI delegation trip, Glakas notes that “Being a part of that movement and the opportunity to speak on their behalf and to appear as an ambassador with them is so touching to me. It’s such an honor because of the things that they promote…. I don’t know another organization, especially in the United States, that is like that and that is dedicated to such ideals of beauty.”
A Torch Bearer for Hellenism at the Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, and serves as the research arm of the U.S. Congress. Also adding to its reputation is its status as the largest library in the world, housing more than 130 million items on about 530 miles of shelves, and with collections including more than 29 million books and other printed materials. These are not small statistics, yet they are just a sampling of the many impressive facts about the nation’s central library.
As Senior Foreign Law Specialist for the European Union (EU), Greece and Cyprus, AHI member Theresa Papadimitriou is one of the people who make this tremendous information storehouse tick efficiently and effectively, fulfilling the institution’s mission to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people.
Papadimitriou has been working specifically for the Law Library of Congress since 1982. The Law Library contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of international, foreign and national legal materials in the vernacular language. As the senior legal specialist for the EU, Greece and Cyprus, Papadimitriou is responsible for preparing legal memoranda and reports which provide in-depth analysis of legal issues posed by the U.S. Congress in her assigned areas of jurisdiction. The questions are very diverse and in many instances reflect the hot issues on the Congressional agenda.
To illustrate her work, Papadimitriou said, “Currently, I am working on a comprehensive report on terrorist in the EU and Greece.” Her duties include a monthly column for the World Law Bulletin on the latest legal developments in the EU and Greece. In her daily work, she provides assistance to readers who visit the Law Library, and serves as the recommending officer for legal materials coming from Greece and Cyprus. Also of note, she is in charge of the general Greek and Cyprus collection at the Library of Congress. This means that Papadimitriou selects appropriate books that will enhance the existing Greek and Cypriot collections.
This all being said, Papadimitriou has fulfilled her version of the American Dream. Born in a village outside of Chania, Crete, she completed elementary and high school education in Athens, and graduated from the University of Athens Law School. In 1979, her and her husband Vasilis—also an AHI member—came to the U.S. to achieve their dreams of higher education and financial success.
Says Papadimitriou, “Our story is typical of other Greek immigrants. We came temporarily to the United States. However, after living here for so many years, we have adopted America as our home.” The Papadimitrious have three children—two sons and a daughter—all of whom have been educated at premiere Washington, D.C. area universities.
While Papadimitriou has achieved a great degree of success by any standards, she never has forgotten her roots. “Being Greek is a way of life. Needless to say, I am extremely proud of my Hellenic heritage,” says Papadimitriou. “Throughout my life in the U.S., Greek ideals, customs and traditions have been a great source of motivation, inspiration and passion to enjoy life to its fullest.”
Of her outlook on life, Hellenism has also fixed itself as a focal point in her and her family’s core existence. Papadimitriou notes, “Like other Greeks, I feel greatly the need to excel in everything I do, both in my professional life and at home in raising three children. As a Greek mother, I have tried to instill in my children love for everything that is Greece: its language, culture, literature, traditions, and orthodoxy. They are the torch bearers.”
John Metaxas Launches Greek News Blog
AHI member and broadcaster, John Metaxas, who has hosted many of our Hellenic Heritage and Achievement Award Dinners over the years, has embarked on a new media venture—a Greek News Blog. Every weekday, you can read his commentary on the Internet at his new Web site: www.johnmetaxas.com.
John writes on a number of subjects close to the hearts of AHI members, including the plight of the Halki Theological Seminary, and the recent controversy over the PBS program that gave a platform to Turkish scholars who deny the Armenian Genocide. You can also click to listen to John’s reports on CBS radio about such subjects as the Macedonia issue and an exclusive interview on the Cyprus Federation’s recent meeting with Under Secretary Nicholas Burns at the State Department.
Johnmetaxas.com also has links to all of the major English-language Greek news sites, including the AHI. Says John, “I have designed this Web site as a resource for the Greek-American community. You can bookmark it as your ‘Hellenic Home Page’ and use it to jump to other sites to get all of your Greek-related news on the web. Please tell your friends about us.”