AHI Delegation Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus—Hosts 2nd Annual Athens Dinner
From June 5 - June 16, 2006, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) leadership participated in its annual trip to Greece and Cyprus. The delegation held substantive talks with government officials and business leaders in both countries.
In Cyprus, the delegation consisted of AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Advisory Committee members Kostas Alexakis and Nick Karambelas, AHI members Gus Andy, William Ragsdale and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. In Athens, the AHI delegation included Messrs. Rossides, Alexakis, Andy, Ragsdale, Karambelas, and Larigakis. They were joined by AHI Athens Chapter President Ilias Malevitis,AHI Advisory Committee member Ted Spyropoulos, Jim Lagos and Peter C. Pappas, and AHI member Kristi Lauren Glakas, who was Miss Virginia 2005 in the Miss America pageant.
The AHI delegation arrived in Nicosia on June 5. Over the course of the next four activity-filled days, the delegation met with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, Bishop Nikiforos, of the Kykkos Monastery, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, Mayor of Nicosia Michael Zampelas, US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher, Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Minister of Finance, Michalis Sarris, Government Spokesman and Minister of Commerce and Tourism Yiorgos Lillikas, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sotos Zackheos, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Dimitris Rallis, Director of Press and Information Office Ioannis Solomou and Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoulli, Director of Cyprus and Euro-Turkish Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
The first day began early on June 6, when the delegation met with Finance Minister Michalis Sarris. The Minister briefed the delegation on the positive financial impact to the Turkish Cypriots ever since they began working in the government controlled south a few years ago when check points were opened in the “Green Line.”
Later that morning, the delegation proceeded to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher at his residence inside the U.S. Embassy compound in Nicosia. The meeting lasted for over an hour and focused on the Cyprus issue. After, Ambassador Schlicher hosted a reception for the delegation which a number of local luminaries attended.
On June 7 the delegation started a very busy day, once again, very early. The first meeting was with Foreign Minister George Iacovou. The Foreign Minister was kind enough to provide a detail account regarding the current developments in the Cyprus issue. Later in the morning, the delegation met with Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoulli, Director of Cyprus and Euro-Turkish Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The delegation then paid visits to Bishop Nikiforos of the Kykkos Monastery and to the new Greek Ambassador to Cyprus, Dimitris Rallis.
In the afternoon, highlighting the trip to Cyrus, the delegation met for over an hour with President Tassos Papadopoulos at the Presidential Palace. President Papadopoulos warmly welcomed the delegation and expressed his thanks for AHI’s efforts regarding the Cyprus issue. President Papadopulos briefed the delegation on his country’s activities regarding efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
Concluding the long day, Sotos Zackheos, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted a dinner in honor of the delegation.
The third day on Cyprus began with the delegation meeting with the Government Spokesperson and Minister of Commerce and TourismYiorgos Lillikas who was soon to be the new Foreign Minister. The delegation congratulated Mr. Lillikas on his new appointment and wished him well in his new endeavors.
Following this meeting the delegation hosted a press conference that was arranged and moderated by Yiannakis Solomou, Director of the Press & Information Office. Participating on the panel during the press conference were Gene Rossides, Nick Karambelas and Nick Larigakis. The panel participants briefed the reporters on the trip to Cyprus including the many activities that the AHI engages to promote the Cyprus issue.
Following the press conference Mr. Solomou hosted the delegation to a luncheon.
The final day on Cyprus was a short, but very busy one. The day started with a meeting with Michael Zampelas, Mayor of Nicosia. Mr. Zampelas warmly greeted the delegation and briefed them on the challenges of being the Mayor of a divided city. In addition, Mr. Zampelas accompanied the delegation down the street from City Hall to the famous Ledra Gate check point, a dramatic barrier, which divides the capital.
Immediately after, the delegation met for an informative discussion with Demetris Christofias, President of the House of Representatives.
Concluding the trip to Cyprus the delegation had the opportunity to visit the old Nicosia airport inside the UN buffer zone. Later that afternoon the delegation left for Athens.
In Athens, meetings were held during the week of June 13 - June 15 with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries, President of the Greek Parliament Anna Psarouda-Benaki, the Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, and the directors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for North America, Cyprus, Turkey and the Countries of Southeastern Europe.
On Tuesday, June 13, as the delegation met with Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis. Mr. Kassimis welcomed very warmly the delegation which proceeded to have a very informative discussion lasting over an hour and fifteen minutes. Mr. Kassimis expressed his strong gratitude to the AHI for all its tireless dedication in support of strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and issues relating to Hellenism in America.
Later that afternoon the delegation met with the Director of the Cyprus Division of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador George Papadopoulosand the Deputy Director of the Turkish Division, George Poukamissas.
A press conference was also hosted on this day that was organized by the AHI-Athens Chapter Executive Committee member, Katerina Papathanasiou. The press conference was held at the Building for Foreign Press. During the exchange with the reporters, the AHI delegation explained the AHI goals and objectives and the many activities that AHI engages in to promote a strong U.S. relationship with Greece.
2nd Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
The main highlight of June 14 was the Second Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. This year, AHI honored Alexandra Mitsotaki-Gourdain, President of ActionAid Hellas for her “exceptional and tireless work, embodied in the ancient Hellenic tradition of public service, on behalf of the less fortunate people of the world” and Prodromos Emfietzoglou, Chairman of Michaniki Group of Companies for his “outstanding business achievements, dedicated philanthropy, and promotion of the Hellenic culture, education and Orthodox Religion.” The dinner was held in cooperation with the Hellenic American National Council.
The evening began with remarks and greetings by Ilias Malevitis, President of AHI-Athens Chapter, Ambassador Charles Ries, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Theodore Spyropoulos, President of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), and Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director. Serving as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Katerina Papathanassiou.
Following the dinner, Gene Rossides, assisted by Ted Spyropoulos and Ilias Malevitis, presented Alexandra Mitsotaki-Gourdain with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award and Prodromos Emfietzoglou with the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award.
In their remarks, both honorees thanked the American Hellenic Institute for the honor and for its tireless commitment to enhancing U.S.-Greek relations.
The dinner was a complete sell out attended by 300 persons representing all segments of Greek life and received very good press coverage by both the print and TV media.
Also attending the dinner were Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis and Deputy Minister of National Economy Christos Folias. In addition, a number of Members of Parliament attended this event.
Further, a number of AHI and HANC members from the United States attended the dinner.
The evening concluded with a musical interlude by Nadia Weinberg and a special dance performance by the Katerina Rodiou Dance Group.
“There were a number of major sponsors who helped to make this event the success that it was. The AHI wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude for their support” said AHI executive director, Nick Larigakis. The sponsors were:
The Dinner Organizing Committee consisted of Ilias Malevitis, George Economou, Katerina Papathanasiou, Panorea Nikolopoulou, Lia Kanari, Margarita Karli, and Nick Larigakis.
Concluding the two week trip, on June 15, the delegation started the day with an hour meeting with the U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries at the U.S. Embassy in Athens for a discussion focusing in U.S.-Greece relations. The topics discussed were the Aegean, Cyprus, Turkey and the Visa Waiver program.
The delegation then proceeded to the Greek Parliament where Anna Psarouda-Benaki, President of the Greek Parliament welcomed the delegation to this historic building. Immediately after, the delegation met with the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The President engaged the delegation in a round-table discussion on the various issues affecting U.S.-Greek relations and thanked the AHI for all its efforts to promote this relationship over the years.
In the afternoon the delegation had concluding meetings with Ambassador George Nicolaides, Director of the North America Division of the Foreign Ministry and Ambassador Michael Christedes, Director of the Division of Countries in Southeast Europe.
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AHI Delegation Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus—Hosts 2nd Annual Athens Dinner