November 1, 2009— Volume 36, Number 240
Inaugural AHIF Student Foreign Policy Study Abroad a Success
From June 25–July 10, 2009, the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) sponsored nine Greek-American college students for its inaugural College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus. This new program introduced future Greek-American leaders to the core foreign policy issues important to the Greek-American community and their significance upon U.S. interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The trip began with briefings in Washington from June 25 to 26, followed by a series of activities and briefings in Cyprus, June 27 to July 2, and Athens, July 3-9.
"I was honored to have had this wonderful opportunity to lead such an exceptional group of Greek-American students to Greece and Cyprus for a hands-on experience to introduce them to the foreign policy issues concerning U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis, who led the group along with Director of Media Relations C. Franciscos Economides. “AHIF looks forward to continuing to offer this program as long as there is continued interest and support. And I am certain there will be both.”
The nine student participants were: Lia Seremetis, University of Cincinnati; Lydia Pappas, Drexel University, Philadelphia; Irene Venetia Ginakakis, New York University; Jason Demetrios Vergados, Merrimack College, Mass.; George Balafoutis, University of Chicago; John Tyler Gazetos, University of Wisconsin at Madison; George Papadopoulos, DePaul University, Chicago; Vangelis Katsikiotis, Catholic University, Washington, D.C.; and Nicholas Papacostas, American University, Washington, D.C.
“The AHI trip is something I will never forget. I am returning to the United States with new friends, amazing memories, and as a more learned person because of this foreign policy trip. I wouldn’t trade those two weeks for anything,” said participant Lia Seremetis.
The program is open to Greek-American and Cypriot-American college students in good academic standing who are studying political science, international relations, history, or foreign affairs.
AHI Marks 35th Anniversary of Cyprus Invasion with Seminar, Luncheon
AHI marked the 35th anniversary of the Cyprus invasion by Turkey with a luncheon featuring remarks by His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who were followed by a seminar featuring a panel of experts on the Cyprus problem.
Reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem depends on Turkey playing a constructive role in the process of reunifying the island in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, said Ambassador Kakouris. The ambassador provided a summary of the direct talks being held between President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, offering that the Republic of Cyprus was not fully satisfied with the progress achieved at that point in time (July 22, 2009). Ambassador Kakouris emphasized that the key for a solution remains in Turkey.
U.S. Rep. Maloney, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, also addressed the luncheon. She called on the United States and the international community to continue their support for the Cyprus peace process and said she remained hopeful that a peaceful settlement could be found.
The afternoon seminar on Cyprus featured three distinguished expert panelists: Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for Foreign Policy and Defense Studies, Cato Institute; AHI founder Gene Rossides, and Nicholas Karambelas, founding partner, Sfikas & Karambelas. David Jones, Washington Times managing editor-print edition, served as moderator. Carpenter discussed Turkey’s prospects for EU accession and offered his opinion on U.S.’ policy on the Cyprus issue under a new administration. Rossides detailed what Congress can do to help find a solution and Karambelas provided expertise on Turkey’s violation of international law as it pertains to Cyprus’ natural resources exploration off its coast. To read more about the statements made during the luncheon and seminar, please visit <www.ahiworld.org>.
AHI Completes Annual Trip to Greece, Cyprus
From June 8-17, 2009, an American Hellenic Institute (AHI) delegation participated in the organization’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus to hold substantive talks with government officials and business leaders. Highlights included meetings with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias. In Cyprus, the delegation included AHI President Alecos Haralambides, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, longtime AHI member Dr. Takey Crist, and AHI’s newest representative from Portland, Ore., John Hanches. In Athens, AHI members Dean D. Bellas, Ph.D., and Chrysoula Economopoulos joined the contingent.
The delegation visited Nicosia June 9-11, 2009 to hold discussions on the Cyprus issue. On June 10, they met with numerous government and community leaders, including President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Deputy Mayor of Nicosia Stelios Ieronymides, and Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Athanasios Orphanides. In its 90-minute meeting with President Christofias, attended by Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, the delegation discussed current status of the ongoing negotiations. President Christofias offered his gratitude to AHI for continuing to raise awareness of the Cyprus issue with the Obama administration and U.S. Congress. On June 11, a full day of meetings were held with former Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, President of the Cyprus House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Frank C. Urbancic, and President of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry Manthos Mavrommatis. Finally, meetings with Director of the Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Eleonora Gavrielides, and separately with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou and Androula Lanitis, director, Press and Information Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concluded the Cyprus visit.
The contingent continued to Athens June 12 and met with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard at the American Embassy, followed by separate meetings with Greece’s Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Kassimis and Miltiadis Varvitsiotis. On June 15, the delegation met with Krinio Kanellopulu, chairwoman, Hellenic Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs followed by Deputy Minister of National Defense Yannis Plakiotakis. An audience with Greek President Karolos Papoulias on June 16 highlighted AHI’s entire excursion. In his welcoming, President Papoulias expressed his gratitude to AHI, “Your presence is an important force in the United States. It’s with appreciation of your work that I welcome you here today.” Later that day, a series of meetings at the Greek Foreign Ministry were held with Ambassador Chrysoula Aleiferi, director, Directorate for North America; Ambassador Georgios Kaklikis, director, Directorate for Relations with Turkey; Director of the Directorate on Cyprus Affairs Dimitrios Yannakakis, and Director of the Directorate for Southeastern Europe Countries Christos Panagopoulos. Ambassador Aleiferi hosted a luncheon in honor of AHI at the foreign ministry.
The next day featured meetings with Yiannos Grammatides, president, American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, and Dimitris P. Droutsas, director, President’s Diplomatic Cabinet and secretary for Foreign Policy and International Relations, PASOK. The delegation concluded its trip June 18, meeting with Vice President of Hellenic Parliament Georgios Sourlas, Chairman of the Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad Nikos Tsartsionis, and Stefanos Vlastos, secretary, Greek Education Abroad and Intercultural Education.
Fifth Annual Athens Awards Dinner
On June 17, 2009, AHI celebrated its Fifth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. The event, which was a major highlight of AHI’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus, honored Joanna Despotopoulou, president, Organizing Committee Special Olympics World Summer Games “Athens 2011,” and Dr. Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, president, Lavrentiadis Group of Companies. Despotopoulou received the AHI National Public Service Award for her outstanding philanthropic achievements, dedication to volunteerism, and promotion of Hellenic culture. Lavrentiadis received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements and promotion of Hellenic culture. In their remarks, both honorees thanked AHI for the honor of receiving their respective awards, and for the organization’s tireless commitment to enhancing U.S.-Greece relations.
The gala dinner, which was held in cooperation with the AHI-Athens Chapter, began with welcome remarks from Ilias Malevitis, president, AHI-Greece, and George C. Economou, president, AHI-Athens Chapter. Also, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Kassimis, Ambassador of the United States to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard, Coordinator and Alternate President of SAE (World Council of Hellenes Abroad) Theodore Spyropoulos, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis all offered greetings. Awards were presented by AHI President Aleco Haralambides. Olga Bornozi, vice president, Capital Link Greece, served as the master of ceremonies. The evening concluded with a musical interlude performed by Katerina Koumbis.
AHI Co-Hosts Farewell Dinner for Ambassador Mallias
AHI co-hosted a farewell dinner in honor of His Excellency Alexandros Mallias, ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the United States, and Mrs. Francoise Mallias, on May 15, 2009, in Washington. AHI joined with the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE)-USA, and the Hellenic American National Council (HANC) to bid farewell to Ambassador Mallias, who served nearly four years in the nation’s capital.
The ambassador was visibly moved during his remarks before an audience of more than 100 persons that included community leaders from across the United States, embassy colleagues, fellow ambassadors, and representatives from the Department of State. He took a moment to remember his parents and recounted how they influenced his life, acknowledged the work of his fine staff and the Greek press corps, and expressed how honored and humbled he was to have been named Greece’s top envoy to the United States. Moreover, Ambassador Mallias commended the strength of Greek-Americans who, through various organizations, have a strong presence in Washington and throughout the United States.
AHI Founder Gene Rossides, President Aleco Haralambides, and Executive Director Nick Larigakis presented Ambassador Mallias with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award.
“The ambassador quickly understood how the U.S. political system operates,” said Rossides. “And he became an activist with the Congress, with the Executive Branch, with the Greek-American organizations, and with the grassroots community throughout the country.”
Larigakis Speaks at Prominent Midwest Venues
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis spoke at the inaugural installment of The Symposium Series, sponsored by the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, Chicago, on May 27, 2009. The theme was, “The Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy and Effects on Hellenic Issues.” Larigakis was joined on the panel by Dr. Alex Papadopoulos, DePaul University; and Attorney Endy Zemenides, partner, Acosta, Kruse & Zemenides, LLC. The panel discussed the first 100 days of President Obama’s administration as it related to U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. The topics covered the president’s visit to Turkey, the FYROM name dispute, Cyprus, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Aegean, and the importance of an active Greek-American grass roots community.
The Hellenic Association at The Ohio State University hosted Executive Director Larigakis for a discussion titled “Greek—American Relations—How Can the Greek-American Community be a Dynamic Factor in America’s Foreign Policy?” on May 13, 2009. “It was an honor to speak at The Ohio State University. It pleases me to see the Greek-American youth taking interest and initiative to be a part of America’s foreign policy making process,” said Larigakis. The event was co-sponsored by Sigma Epsilon Phi, the National Hellenic Student Association of America, the Department of Greek and Latin at OSU, and The Olympic Society.
AHI Commends U.S. Rep. Sarbanes
On July 9, 2009, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Defense Bryan G. Whitman, and Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, regarding the historical inaccuracy of a recent statement made by Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his keynote address to the 28th Annual Conference on U.S. Turkish Relations. According to the letter, Adm. Mullin’s statement wrongly asserted that “Turkey fought in WWII on the side of the Allied Forces.” On Aug. 13, 2009, U.S. Rep. Sarbanes received a letter from Assistant Secretary Whitman acknowledging the error and outlining the steps taken to correct the record. AHI commends Rep. Sarbanes for his initiative to correct the inaccuracy of an event of “crucial historical importance.”
AHI Hosts Capitol Hill Book—Presentation on Human Rights
On April 28, 2009, AHI hosted a Capitol Hill book presentation “International Aggression and Violations of Human Rights: The Case of Turkey in Cyprus,” by Professor Van Coufoudakis, rector emeritus, University of Nicosia, Cyprus, and dean emeritus, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. A question and answer session followed. The book was published on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It presents eyewitness testimonies, media accounts, NGO and ECHR reports detailing violations of human rights in Cyprus. Adopted in the aftermath of World War II, this declaration recognizes the importance of human rights for international peace and stability. Special guests included Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. Andreas Kakouris, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and numerous Congressional staff members. Excerpts from the book can be viewed at <www.ahiworld.org>.
AHI’S Delaware Chapter Meets With U.S. Sen. Kaufman
AHI’s Delaware Chapter met with U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-DE), who was appointed to complete the remaining term of Vice President Joe Biden’s senatorial seat. Chapter President George Moutsatsos and AHI members Constantine Caras, James Faller, Gus Georgiou, Dean Lomis, Basil Savopoulos, and Peter Yiannos comprised the delegation. A discussion regarding the Turkish invasion and continued occupation of Cyprus, Turkish violations of the Hellenic airspace over the Aegean Sea, the FYROM name dispute, and religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate was held. “Senator Kaufman emphasized strongly his support for Hellenic issues and expressed his desire to lend his support,” said Moutsatsos. The senator expressed his desire for the Delaware Greek-American community to stay in communication. The meeting was held May 11, 2009 in Wilmington.
AHI Hosts 6th Annual Golf Classic
On October 14, 2009, AHI hosted its Sixth Annual Golf Classic at Belle Haven Country Club, Alexandria, Va. More than 50 golfers participated, and along with the sponsors, helped to make it a success.
The winning team in the Captain’s Choice Format competition consisted of Diane Herndon, Janice Calomiris, Mimi Hoffman, and Kay Tyler. The team of Michael Abbenante, Paul Capadanno, Nicholas Christako, and Nick Demas finished second. Third place went to the team of Tom Pellicane, Nathan Riedel, James McPhillips, and Ralph Scherer. Janice Calomiris captured the longest drive and Diane Herndon won closest to the pin. The winning teams received trophies for their outstanding efforts.
AHI thanks all the generous sponsors of this year’s Golf Classic. Hole Sponsors: Capital Hilton, Chimicles & Tikellis LLP, Circle Companies, Courembis Commercial Real Estate Services, LaMer Beachfront Inn, Market Development Group, McLean Hilton, TGS Petroleum and Gene Rossides.Golf Cart Sponsors: Axela Government Relations LLC, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Public Sector Solutions, The Hatcher Group, and Urban Analytics, Inc. Registration Sponsors: Michael Abbenante, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, and Tyler Business Services, Inc. Welcome Gift Bag Sponsors: High Tower Advisors, NICO Properties Group, schererMedia, and Stephen G. Yeonas Company.
“We are very pleased that our Annual Golf Classic continues to grow each year,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “We hope to be able to build on this success and improve upon it each year. To that effect, this year we were able to upgrade the venue for this event by having been able to secure the exclusive Belle Haven Country Club. Also, we are especially thankful to all of our generous sponsors and golfers.”
AHI Founder Rossides Honored by AHEPA Chapter
AHI Founder Gene Rossides received the Col. Peter N. Derzis Hellenism Award from AHEPA Chapter 438, Arlington, Va., on the occasion of the chapter’s 40th anniversary gala on May 30, 2009. The Peter N. Derzis Award for Hellenism is presented to individuals and organizations whose contributions in support of Hellenism and devotion to humanity, freedom, and democracy have been noteworthy. In acceptance, Rossides said, “I am very pleased to receive this award because Peter Derzis was a close friend who gave full support to our efforts on behalf of the rule of law and because AHEPA is the heart and soul of Greek America in every state throughout our nation.” Rossides is an AHEPA Life Member.
AHI Nominated Among “Greek America’s Best and Brightest”
The Gabby Awards selection committee nominated the American Hellenic Institute as one of five candidates in the “Promotion of Hellenism” category. The Gabby Awards event, held for the first time June 19, was founded to celebrate excellence among Greek Americans and to reward those who embody it. The “Promotion of Hellenism” category is open to an individual or organization that promoted any aspect of Hellenism. Other nominees included: the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The Metropolitan Museum of Art captured the Gabby.
Letters to the Editor
On July 27, 2009, The Washington Times published Mr. Larigakis’ letter to the editor in response to a July 20, 2009 letter by Buket Kop, a representative of the so-called “TRNC” titled “Settling Cyprus.” Larigakis rebuts Kop’s contention that Greek-Cypriots are not in favor of a unified Cyprus, and instead, reminds the audience that what created the Cyprus problem was Turkey’s illegal military invasion. Larigakis also cited the reasons why the 2004 referendum failed.
Moreover, AHIF Fellow Professor Van Coufoudakis, Ph.D., submitted a letter to the editor to The Washington Post in response to a July 28, 2009 article by Craig Whitlock, “Another Rift Between Greece, Macedonia, Both Lay Claim to Alexander the Great.” Dr. Coufoudakis concisely explained the history of the issue and reasons for FYROM’s frantic search for a national identity.
Ten op-eds, five written by Gene Rossides, four by Nick Larigakis, and one by Aleco Haralambides were published in a number of Greek-American publications. In addition, one letter to the editor written by Demetri Papacostas, and published in The National Herald, responded favorably to Larigakis’ op-ed “Education by Visitation: AHIF Sponsors Student Trips to Greece & Cyprus.”
“Obama Visits Turkey—Pluses and Minuses”
By Gene Rossides, April 14, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (4/25/09), Greek News (4/27/09), and The Hellenic Voice (4/29/09).
“Greece: An Important Partner for Euro-Atlantic Security”
By Nick Larigakis, May 5, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (5/9/09), Greek News (5/11/09), The Greek Star (5/13/09), and The Hellenic Voice (5/13/09).
“Obama-Turkey, NATO and the EU”
By Gene Rossides, May 19, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (5/23/09), Greek News (5/25/09), The Hellenic Voice (5/27/09), The Greek Star (5/28/09), and Hellenic News of America (June 2009).
“If the U.S. Can Say It to Israel, They Can Certainly Say It to Turkey”
By Nick Larigakis, June 1, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (6/6/09), Greek News (6/8/09), and The Hellenic Voice (6/10/09), and Hellenic News of America (June 2009).
“The Need to Engage Turkey with Pressure”
By Gene Rossides, June 16, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (6/20/09), Greek News (6/22/09), and The Hellenic Voice (6/24/09).
“Congress Should Investigate the State Department’s Violations of the Rule of Law”
By Gene Rossides, July 14, 2009. Appearing in Greek News (7/16/09), The National Herald (7/18/09), The Hellenic Voice (7/22/09), The Greek Star (7/23/09), and theHellenic News of America (July 2009).
“Education by Visitation: AHIF Sponsors Student Trips to Greece & Cyprus”
By Nick Larigakis, July 28, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (7/30/09).
“Our Problem is Indifference”
By Aleco Haralambides, August 24, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (8/29/09), and The Hellenic Voice (9/2/09).
“What is the Greek Lobby?”
By Nick Larigakis, September 21, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald, Greek News, The Greek Star, and The Hellenic Voice.
“Obama Needs to Change U.S.—Turkey Relations”
By Gene Rossides, October 6, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (10/14/09), The Hellenic Voice (10/14/09), and Greek News (10/18/09).
For complete versions of the referenced items in “AHI In the News,” please visit <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/>.
87th Anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe—Commemorated
AHI commemorated the 87th anniversary of the Smyrna catastrophe of 1922 on September 23, 2009, with a presentation by Professor Dan Georgakas, director of the Greek American Studies Project, Queens College-CUNY’s Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. Professor Georgakas reviewed the events leading up to the catastrophe and detailed how Smyrna was a thriving metropolis. He also cited the eyewitness reports of U.S. Consul General George Horton, quoting passages from Horton’s book “The Blight of Asia.” Moreover, the Smyrna catastrophe of 1922 affected Professor Georgakas’ family. His mother was one of Smyrna’s many inhabitants who fled the burning city. Professor Georgakas is the co-editor of the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, the Journal of Modern Hellenism, and he is an AHIF Fellow.
Battle of Crete Remembered for Its Significance
World War II and The Battle of Crete was the topic of an AHI Noon Forum held May 28, 2009, featuring Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris, defense attaché, Embassy of Greece in Washington. Brigadier General Leontaris detailed the geostrategic context of Crete, the historical and political context of WWII before the German invasion of Greece and Yugoslavia, Great Britain’s role in Crete, the German attack of Crete, the strategic impact of the battle for Greece and Crete, and the importance of the battle of Crete to the outcome of WWII. He also quoted world and military leaders, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Field Marshall Georgy Constantinovich Zhoukov, who both commented on the heroism of the Greeks. The Battle of Crete lasted from May 20 to 30, 1941.
OXI Day Heroics Recounted 69 Years Later
AHI hosted a Noon Forum at the Hellenic House commemorating the 69th Anniversary of OXI Day that featured guest speaker Colonel Taxiarchis Sardellis, defense attaché, Embassy of Greece.
Colonel Taxiarchis Sardellis began his presentation by explaining the historical significance of OXI Day and how on October 28, 1940 Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas truly interpreted the feelings and sentiments of the Greek people when he said “OXI” (No!) to Mussolini’s surrender ultimatum. Col. Sardellis stated, “The answer the Italian ambassador received reflected primarily the will of the Greek people, but it was the call of history and selfless duty, it was the call of Greece.” As a result, Greece’s courageous defiance played a pivotal role in the eventual victory of the Allied Forces in World War II. Moreover, Greece’s heroic efforts against the fascist Italian army resulted in the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II.
New Greek Ambassador to U.S. Makes First Visit to AHI
Newly appointed Ambassador of Greece to the United States Vassilis Kaskarelis made his first visit to AHI’s Hellenic House on October 7, 2009. The ambassador met with AHI’s leadership, including: AHI Founder Gene Rossides, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas Esq., AHI Board Members Kostas Alexakis and James Marketos Esq.; AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI staff. Ambassador Kaskarelis stated how pleased he was to visit AHI because he has “heard so many great words regarding the great work that AHI does and has done for so many years.” A thorough discussion of U.S. relations with Greece ensued. “We were honored to have Ambassador Kaskarelis visit Hellenic House,” said Larigakis. “We also greatly appreciated the candid discussion. We look forward to working with Ambassador Kaskarelis in the future to pursue common objectives and strengthen U.S. relations with Greece.” The ambassador’s bio can be viewed at <www.ahiworld.org>.
Greek Military Delegation Visits Hellenic House
A seven-member Greek military delegation led by Lt. Gen. Dimitrios Lymperis visited Hellenic House on September 24, 2009. Col. Taxiarchis Sardellis, defense attaché, Embassy of Greece; and Lt. Col. George Tsastas, military attaché, Embassy of Greece; joined the delegation. AHI Founder Gene Rossides, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and AHI staff met with the delegation. U.S. relations with Greece, Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean Sea, and the Greek military’s deployment in a multitude of theatres around the world were topics discussed. “We were honored to have such a high ranking Greek military delegation visit Hellenic House. We look forward to working with them in the future to continue strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and pursuing common goals,” said Larigakis.
AHI Hosts Greek Cypriot Mayors from Occupied Cyprus
Five Greek Cypriot mayors from cities and towns located in occupied northern Cyprus visited Hellenic House on May 22, 2009. The delegation, a historic first of its kind to visit Hellenic House, included: Hon. Alexis Galanos, mayor of Farmagusta; Hon. Michalis Pilikos, mayor of Lefkoniko; Hon. Savvas Savvides, mayor of Akanthou; Hon. Charalambos Charalambous, deputy mayor of Morphou; and Hon. Charalambos Ioannides, director, Department of Overseas Cypriots. His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., and Second Secretary and Consul Demetra Christodoulou accompanied the delegation, which met with AHI Founder Gene Rossides and AHI staff. U.S. relations with Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey were discussed. Turkish violations of human rights in Cyprus, including its occupation and destruction of religious sites and personal properties; Turkish-E.U. relations, and the plan for reunification of the island were issues examined. AHI also hosted a luncheon for the delegation.
Greece’s Army Chief Welcomed to Hellenic House
AHI hosted Greece’s Chief of the Army Lt. Gen. Dimitrios Voulgaris for a meeting at Hellenic House followed by a luncheon in his honor on May 11, 2009. Brigadier General Ilias Leontaris, defense attaché, Embassy of Greece and a delegation of Army officers accompanied Lt. Gen. Voulgaris. “We were honored to have Lieutenant General Dimitrios Voulgaris and delegation visit Hellenic House. We look forward to working with the in the Lieutenant General in the future to continue strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and pursue common goals and objectives,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
Former Greek Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Meets with AHI Leadership
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Miltiades Varvitsiotis visited Hellenic House on April 28, 2009. Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias, and his embassy staff, accompanied Deputy Foreign Minister Varvitsiotis. Deputy Foreign Minister Varvitsiotis met with AHI Founder Gene Rossides, Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Board Members Nick Karambelas, Esq., James Marketos, Esq., Professor Van Coufoudakis, and Kostas Alexakis; and AHI Staff. The meeting covered a broad range of issues pertaining to U.S.-Greece relations, including Greece’s importance as the United States’ key strategic, political and economic ally in southeast Europe and eastern Mediterranean. Greece’s role in the Middle East was also discussed.
Vice Admiral of the Hellenic Navy Visits AHI
On April 28, 2009, Vice Admiral of the Hellenic Navy Dimitrios Elefsiniotis visited Hellenic House. Col. Taxiarchis Sardelis from the International Relations Division of the Greek Ministry of National Defense and defense attaché designate to the Embassy of Greece in Washington accompanied him. The topics discussed were: U.S. relations with Greece, Greece’s role in the Middle East, Turkish violations of Greek airspace over the Aegean Sea, and Greece’s global military deployment. Vice Admiral Elefsiniotis and Col. Sardelis were in Washington on the occasion of Greek Minister of National Defense Vangelis Meimarakis’ meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
AHI Publishes 2009 Greek American Policy Statements
On May 29, 2009, the American Hellenic Institute released its 2009 Greek American Policy Statements, which discuss issues affecting the Greek American community as they pertain to United States relations with Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey. The policy statements are approved by several membership-based organizations including:
The policy statements serve as a guide to the Greek-American community in conveying our positions to U.S. policy makers and the media. The positions are based on the best interests of the United States. AHI strongly urges everyone to utilize these statements to their full potential. Visit <www.ahiworld.org> to download a copy.
AHIF Debuts Online Policy Journal
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) announced the debut of its online AHIF Policy Journal in July 2009.
“The purpose of the online Journal is to offer a forum for our readers, including the members of Congress and other government officials, by which they can examine issues concerning the United States, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey in that is more comprehensive and detailed than many of our traditional press releases and letters.” wrote Gene Rossides in the foreword.
The Summer 2009 issue includes the article “The Case for Cyprus Transforms as Turkey Abandons the West in Favor of an Alliance With Moscow” by Gregory R. Copley; “Cyprus: Destruction of Cultural Property in the Northern Part of Cyprus and Violations of International Law” (LL File No. 2008-01356), which is an April 2009 Report for Congress by The Law Library of Congress; and the article “Apostolides v. Orams: An American Perspective” by Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq.
The AHIF Policy Journal invites authors to submit articles on recent policy and historical developments that affect U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, southeastern Europe, and eastern Mediterranean. Authors are encouraged to submit completed articles to C. Franciscos Economides via email, <AHIFPolicyJournal@ahiworld.org> To view the AHIF Policy Journal, please visit <https://ahiworld.org/AHIFpolicyjournal/>.
AHI Statement on 54th Anniversary of Istanbul Pogrom
September 6-7, 2009 marked the 54th anniversary of the 1955 planned destruction of the Greek Orthodox Christian community of Istanbul by the Turkish government. AHI memorialized the victims of the Turkish government’s atrocities and called for full compensation for its victims and their heirs from the Turkish government. AHI also recounted events that transpired in 1955, citing a June 1956 article that appeared in Harper’s Magazine. Moreover, in its statement, AHI expressed concern about the present-day situation of 2,500 members of the Greek Orthodox Christian community residing in Istanbul. Comprised mostly of elderly citizens, the remaining Greek Orthodox Christian population is still under threat and is subject to serious oppression by the Turkish state 54 years later. AHI’s statement cites the annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), published May 2009, which states, “The existent governmental and societal obstacles place important restrictions upon the Greek Orthodox population’s property and ownership rights within the Turkish state.” In its findings, the Commission notes that contrary to 1923 Treaty of Lausanne provisions, Turkey has specifically failed to implement the guarantees and protections granted for all non-Muslim religious minorities. To read AHI’s full statement, please visit <www.ahiworld.org>.
AHI's Capital Report is Launched
A good portion of policy formulation in Washington, DC is influenced by analysts and academics of think-tank institutions. 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.
Accordingly, in October, the American Hellenic Institute introduced AHI’s Capital Report, a timely synopsis of policy discussions in Washington to keep its members abreast of latest developments in the public policy arena. The first edition of AHI’s Capital Report can be viewed at <https://www.ahiworld.org/2009capital_reports.html>.
June 9, 2009
AHI sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the negotiations between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Government of Turkey for additional loans to fund an estimated 7 percent deficit in the Turkish national budget in 2009. “The deficit is partly the result of expenditures Turkey makes to support and perpetuate its continuing and illegal occupation of approximately 36 percent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus,” wrote AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis. In addition to Turkey’s policy on Cyprus, Haralambides and Larigakis cited three additional reasons to deny the loans, including a Global Corruption Survey that found 68 percent of international firm executives who believe that bribery and corruption measures are not sufficiently strong in Turkey.
July 21, 2009
AHI Chapter Presidents, Team Leaders, and Friends were encouraged to contact their U.S. representative, asking him or her to sign two “Dear Colleague” letters being circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives that expressed support for current efforts to reunify Cyprus. One letter, initiated by U.S. Reps Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), was addressed to President Barack Obama. A second letter, initiated by U.S. Reps. Bilirakis and Albio Sires (D-NJ), was addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Visit <www.ahiworld.org> for copies of the letters.
October 23, 2009
AHI Chapter Presidents, Team Leaders, and Friends were encouraged to contact the president of the University of Utah, Michael K. Young, and urge him to reconsider the university’s hosting a conference titled “7th Macedonian-North American Conference on Macedonian Studies” held Nov. 5-9, 2009. The conference offered topics such as “Alexander the Great and mythic Homelands.” It also featured revisionist academics Professor Emilija Crvenkovska, University of Skopje, who is funded by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and professor Loring Danforth who has written a number of revisionist history books that question Greek historical facts relating to ancient and modern Macedonia and who adheres to Marshal Tito’s falsehoods and revisionist claims. View <www.ahiworld.org> to download a copy of AHI’s letter to President Young.
October 23, 2009
AHI Chapter Presidents, Congressional Team Leaders, and Friends were contacted and urged to encourage their U.S. representatives to co-sponsor H.Res.838, a congressional resolution welcoming His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to the United States. The resolution, introduced by U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), also urged religious freedom in Turkey. The legislation passed by a vote of 424-0 on Oct. 28, 2009. It had 51 co-sponsors.
DR. TAKEY CRIST, longtime AHI member and successful obstetrician, gynecologist and the founder of the Crist Clinic for Women, donated a large collection of Cypriot artifacts and rare books to support the Greek studies program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). Dr. Crist is a UNC alumnus. The Crist Collection at UNC consists of approximately 150 rare books on Cypriot and eastern Mediterranean history, and 40 artifacts consisting mostly of pottery and sculptures from the Early Bronze Age to the Classical period, representing roughly 2,000 years of Cypriot history. “My second steadfast commitment in life is the preservation of my Cypriot heritage,” he said. Dr. Crist is the founder of the Cyprus Museum in Jacksonville, N.C.
PETER C. PAPPAS, AHI Advisory Board member of Washington DC, was appointed by the White House to be Counselor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property. In this role, Pappas oversees communications strategy and legislative and interagency affairs and is deeply involved in the effort to pass sweeping patent reform legislation affecting critical sectors of the economy like biotech, pharmaceuticals, and high technology.
Pappas, an attorney, was executive vice president at Pappas Telecasting Companies, and previously served in the Clinton Administration in several key positions: as Assistant Counsel to the President, as Deputy Director of Communications at the State Department and as Associate Chief of the International Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.
THEODORE G. SPYROPOULOS, president of SAE-USA and longtime AHI member and supporter, participated in a group of civic leaders led by President Barack Obama, Governor Pat Quinn, and Mayor Richard Daley, that represented Chicago before the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen to advocate for the city’s hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games.
KYRIAKOS TSAKOPOULOS, an AHIF board member, was named President & CEO of AKT Development Corporation and its affiliated group of companies. AKT is a diversified, family-owned, land development company headquartered in Sacramento, California, operating real estate, farming, ranching, water and minerals, building, and land development projects throughout North and Central California. “I am delighted and honored to be entrusted with the leadership of our family companies. I look forward to continuing to work closely with our Founder & Chairman, Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, as I have been since grade school,” he said.
Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis has been nominated Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary by President Barack Obama. Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis is a Northern California businesswoman, civic leader and philanthropist. As president of AKT Development Corporation, one of California’s largest land development firms, Mrs. Kounalakis has spearheaded major projects that are now home to thousands of families. She is a first generation American and an active member of the national Greek-American community. She was the Pan-Arcadian Federation of America’s 2006 person of the year, and was recently awarded the medal of St. Paul, the Greek Orthodox Church of America’s highest honor.
ALKIS PANAGOULIAS, a longtime AHI member and former head coach of the U.S. National Soccer Team and Greece’s National Soccer Team, was inducted into the Virginia and Washington, DC Soccer Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognized Panagoulias for his dedication to the sport and for his extensive accomplishments to advance the interest of soccer in the region. Alkis received his Hall of Fame plaque in a moving presentation ceremony prior to a DC United game on June 13, 2009. The memorable ceremony was displayed on the stadium’s jumbo video screen.
SOTIRIOS VAHAVIOLOS, founder and CEO, Mistras Group Inc., rang The Opening Bell on NYSE’s trading floor to celebrate the company’s initial public offering on October 8, 2009. Mistras Group is a New Jersey-based company that specializes in nondestructive testing of infrastructure primarily for the energy market.
AHI CONGRATULATES TWO GREEK-AMERICANS NOMINATED BY OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
AHI congratulated George Apostolakis and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis for being nominated by President Barack Obama to key positions in the administration. Apostolakis was nominated commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. President Obama announced their nominations on Oct. 13, 2009.
The NRC was created in 1974 to regulate commercial nuclear plants and how radioactive materials are used, stored and disposed. A Cretan-born risk assessment expert, Apostolakis would be one of five NRC commissioners serving a five-year terms if he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
A renowned Democratic fundraiser, civic leader, and philanthropist, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis is one of the latest Democratic supporters to be named to an ambassadorship by President Obama. Her husband, Markos Kounalakis, is president of Washington Monthly, a magazine dedicated to politics and public affairs.
For their complete bios, please visit <www.ahiworld.org>.
Fighting for the Rights of the Underdog
AHI Board of Directors member Nicholas Chimicles has built his more than 35-year legal career on righting injustices. He is co-founder and senior partner of Chimicles & Tikellis LLP (C&T), a leading class action law firm practicing nationwide, with its principal office located in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb.
Chimicles’ firm, comprising 20 lawyers, represents clients who have been wronged in areas including securities fraud, corporate transactions impacting investors, employee compensation and benefit plans, consumer fraud and antitrust violations.
After completing undergraduate studies with honors at the University of Pennsylvania and obtaining his J.D. at the University of Virginia Law School, he joined a major Philadelphia law firm. There, he sharpened his skills and handled significant complex litigation cases at a relatively junior level.
Entrepreneurially driven, Chimicles struck out with another lawyer in 1981 to form a small firm specializing in complex litigation, this time solely on the side of plaintiffs. The firm grew and in 1994, Pamela Tikellis replaced his original partner. Ms. Tikellis heads the firm’s office in Wilmington, Delaware.
Asked what spurred his interest in plaintiff-side class action practice, Chimicles points out that it is an entrepreneurial type of law practice. “We are in a position to get involved in cases that we want to get involved in… whereas if you represent a corporation, you have to take the case.”
Second, “I like representing the underdog, and in virtually every one of these cases that we’ve handled over the years and currently, we are litigating against the biggest firms in the country,” Chimicles says.
Finally, many of the cases C&T has worked on have changed the way corporate America works. “We’ve had a lot of success in cases that have had a ripple effect…. So we’ve seen an impact on the way corporations operate, how corporate governance is implemented, and it has also obviously benefitted the investing public,” he notes.
Of the impact of his Hellenic background on his life, Chimicles says, “We take great pride in education, not only of ourselves but of our children. [Though not unique], it is nevertheless a significant characteristic of our Greek cultural group.” This was something instilled in him as a young man. His mother, born to Greek immigrants, was keen on her son receiving an Ivy League education. His father, born in the U.S. but reared in Greece, instilled in him a strong values set.
Among his favorite AHI activities is preparing for the organization’s annual awards dinner, including selection of the worthiest honorees who have promoted Hellenism in the U.S.
“All of those activities are humbling because there are so many prominent people who have contributed so much, and they are edifying because they demonstrate the disparate ways Greek-Americans and Philhellenes who we’re honoring have contributed to the overall promotion of our culture,” concludes Chimicles.
George Demos: On Track to be New York’s First Greek Congressman
George Demos is a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement attorney who may soon become the first Greek-American to represent the state of New York in the U.S. Congress. He started at the SEC in 2002 just after receiving his law degree from Fordham Law School. Demos left the SEC in September to formally launch his campaign, filing for candidacy the week of October 12. With a background like Demos’s, and the current political environment in his congressional district, the outlook is bright.
Demos is the Republican challenger to the Democratic incumbent in New York’s first district. This district, covering eastern Long Island, is traditionally a Republican stronghold with a three-to-two Republican advantage in registration.
According to Demos, “The current congressman is a captive of the Washington insiders. He votes in lockstep with the Democratic leadership on issues of raising taxes, increasing the deficit, and increasing the size of government… and that’s not the direction people want to go in.” These are the issues Demos will emphasize during his campaign.
“Our campaign is getting a fantastic response,” says Demos. “People are interested in my work as an enforcement attorney at the SEC, prosecuting some of the major frauds, so that’s getting us a lot of attention.”
Among the highest profile cases that Demos has worked on is the Bernard Madoff case during 2009. He and his colleagues worked to build a case around Madoff and other key players for their involvement in the largest investment fraud in Wall Street history.
But according to Demos, “A lot of the cases that are the most rewarding are the ones that never really made the headlines. The ones where you have innocent victims defrauded, and you’re the only one that can stand between them losing their life savings, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.” Demos is elevating his commitment to public service by running for Congress.
As a member of the Greek Orthodox Church’s Archdiocesan Council, Leadership 100 and his church in Southampton, N.Y., Demos is particularly attuned to the challenges faced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.
“We must do all we can in the U.S. Congress to push the issue of religious freedom to ensure that the Patriarchate and His All Holiness can operate and function and administrate as the Patriarchate has for nearly two thousand years,” asserts Demos.
Other issues he cites at the top of his Greek-American agenda are Cyprus and the Macedonia name issue. In all of these areas, Demos underscores the importance of advancing these issues in a bipartisan manner, and of working with AHI “both on the campaign trail and in Congress.”
He has the team and background to make it happen. Demos asserts that, “I have a great political team in place and I think that with a background that speaks to helping people and having served in the government before against a vulnerable incumbent, we will win this race.”