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House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman Endorses Congressional Hearings On U.S. Policy Toward Turkey At AHEPA and AHI Joint Legislative Conference In New York
February 14, 2000 No. 10/2000 (202) 785-8430

House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman Endorses Congressional Hearings On U.S. Policy Toward Turkey At AHEPA and AHI Joint Legislative Conference In New York

On February 12, 2000 the American Hellenic Institute and the Order of AHEPA held a joint legislative conference in New York City. This was the second in a series of joint conferences designed to provide information on issues of key interest to the Greek American community in this important election year. In the words of AHEPA Supreme President George J. Dariotis, this "unique cooperation" between AHEPA and AHI will deliver "better results" for the community."

The conference covered the following topics:

  1. Cyprus and American Foreign Policy: The Evolving Picture
    Speaker: Professor Van Coufoudakis, Dean School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, Indiana
  2. The Role of the Greek American Media
    Speaker: Mr. Antonis H. Diamataris, Publisher and Editor, The National Herald
  3. The E.U. Summit: Implications for U.S. Policy towards Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and the Challenges for the Greek American Community
    Speaker: Mr. Eugene T. Rossides, President, AHI Foundation
  4. Current Legislative Initiatives regarding Cyprus and the Aegean issues for the 2nd Session of the 106th Congress
    Speaker: Mr. Nick Larigakis, Executive Director, AHI
  5. Workshop on Lobbying
    Speakers: Mr. Jonathan Clarke, Public Affairs Consultant, AHI; Nick Karambelas, Esq., Partner Sfikas Karambelas & Akaras LLP; Mr. Phillip Spyropoulos, Executive Director, American Hellenic Media Project

Following an introuduction from luncheon chairman Dr. Takey Crist, Mr. Pantias D. Eliades, Consul General of Cyprus in New York, delivered greeting remarks. He stressed the need for continued vigilance on Cyprus. Despite the recent warming trend between Greece and Turkey, Turkish attitudes and policy on Cyprus remained unchanged. No Turkish soldier has left Cyprus. He encouraged the Greek American community to remain "focused and united" and congratulated AHI and AHEPA for their leadership.

Chairman Ben Gilman (R-NY) of the House International Relations Committee was the luncheon speaker. The highlights of his remarks were:

  • he congratulated AHEPA and AHI for delivering a "wonderful array" of services and benefits to the Greek American community;
  • he congratulated the Greek government on its statesmanship in a region that was "crying out for leadership";
  • he congratulated Cyprus for establishing itself as a regional center for business and finance. He welcomed the progress being made in Cyprus's accession negotiations with the European Union;
  • in welcoming the progress being made in relations between Greece and Turkey, Chairman Gilman warned that the region remained "volatile" and that events there could change very rapidly;
  • he urged Greek Americans to give their full support to the process of Greek-Turkish reconciliation;
  • he stated that he agreed with the AHI proposal that the House International Relations Committee should hold hearings on U.S. policy toward Turkey; and
  • he stressed the need for Greek Americans "not to be reluctant to focus congressional attention" on their issues. He strongly urged members of the community to contact their representatives on a personal basis. He particularly stressed the need to educate the likely 40-50 incoming new Members of Congress about Greek American interests.

Mr. Chris Pappas, Partner in the firm of Marulli and Huebel P.C. New York, acted as moderator.

The next conference will take place on March 11 from 9:00 am- 2:30 pm at the Four Seasons Hotel, Boston. Mr. George D. Behrakis will act as Honorary Chairman and together with Mr. George Danis and Mr. George Chryssis will hold a fund-raiser for Hellenic House.