AHI Conducts Annual Trip to Greece, Cyprus
11th Athens Awards Dinner Held
WASHINGTON, DC —A delegation from the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) successfully completed the organization’s annual leadership trip to Greece and Cyprus where it held substantive meetings with high-ranking government, religious, and political officials with the purpose of strengthening relations and addressing issues of mutual concern. The 10-day trip occurred May 18 to 28, 2015.
“We had a very productive series of high-visibility meetings in Greece and Cyprus,” President Nick Larigakis said. “We accomplished the objectives we set out to achieve, and the briefings we received on issues of importance to the Greek American community were insightful and informative. We thank all of the leaders who took the time to meet with us to discuss these very important issues.”
AHI Works to Address Many Issues Facing Cyprus
The AHI delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the resumption of settlement talks for Cyprus under UN auspices; Cyprus’ efforts to explore for hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and the lingering impact of Cyprus’ banking crisis. All throughout the delegation’s meetings in Cyprus, AHI was commended for its past advocacy and current steadfast efforts to keep the Cyprus issue highly visible with key policymakers in the Obama administration and in the U.S. Congress.
During its stay in Cyprus, May 18 to 21, 2015, the delegation met with U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus John Koenig, President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou, His Beatitude the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, Minister of Defense Christoforos Fokaides, Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, the chief negotiator for the current settlement talks; Deputy Director of the PIO Patricia Chatzisotiriou, Deputy Government Spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos; Fotis Fotiou, commissioner to the Presidency for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots; and George Panteli, head of Directorate of Economic Research and EU Affairs. Additional meetings were held with ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, including Amb. Andreas Chatzichrusanthou, director of the Cyprus Question & Turkey Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Leonidas Markidis, director, Agency for Repatriated and Overseas Cypriots
AHI President Larigakis met individually with Cyprus’s Government Spokesperson Nikos Christodoulides.
In addition, meetings were held with elected officials and political figures, including: Prodromos Prodrommou, deputy president, Foreign and European Affairs Committee of Parliament; Andros Kyprianou, secretary general, AKEL; and Nikolas Papadopoulos, leader, DIKO (Dimokratiko Komma, Democratic Party).
“Our meetings provided us with a candid outlook as settlement talks resume and developments in the eastern Mediterranean continue to emerge,” Larigakis said. “AHI believes the United States must emphasize that the interests of Cypriots must be kept at the forefront of a settlement.”
Greece: PM Tsipras, President Pavlopoulos Meetings Top Agenda
Meetings with Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Alexis Tsipras and President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and extensive briefings with foreign ministry and military officials, were highlights of the delegation’s itinerary in Greece from May 22 to 28, 2015. The itinerary also included a day trip to Thessaloniki, May 23, and the 11th Annual AHI Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner at the Grand Bretagne Hotel, May 27.
“Our meetings covered a broad range of issue topics, including Greece’s economic crisis, the Cyprus issue, and Greece’s relations in the Balkans and with Turkey,” Larigakis said. “We also explored ways in which the Greek American community can strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Greece and the United States.”
The delegation’s audience with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos was held May 26 and the meeting with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras occurred May 27. In addition, meetings with high-level ministry officials were held with: Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, May 25; Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, May 27; Alternate Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, May 22; Nikos Fragkos, secretary general for Economic Policy, Ministry of Finance, May 25. General Mikhail Kostarakos, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, provided a briefing to the delegation at the defense ministry, May 25. From the foreign ministry, the delegation met with: Secretary General for International Economic Relations of the ministry of Foreign Affairs G. Tsipras, May 22; Ambassador Ioannis Rizopoulos, director, A7 Directorate for North America; and Periklis Ghicas, first counselor, A7 Directorate of North America, May 28.
Moreover, on May 27, the delegation met with staff at the United States Embassy, including: First Secretary Amy Scanlon, Economic Counselor J. David Lippeatt, Political Officer Darren McMahon, and Karen Grissette from the embassy’s press office.
Also in Athens, AHI President Larigakis conducted a series of individual meetings with: former Prime Minister and current Member of Parliament Kostas Karamanlis, May 29; Amb. Irit Ben-Abba, ambassador of Israel to Greece, May 28; former Member of Parliament Kostas Kiltidis, May 28; and with Evangelos Marinakis. president, Olympiacos FC, May 29.
In a First, Delegation Visits Thrace
The delegation visited Thrace in a fact-finding mission that focused on the issue of the Muslim minority of Thrace. Meetings in Thrace included: Deputy Regional Governor, Regional District of Kavala Alexandroupolis Theodoros Markopoulos; Mayor of Alexandroupolis Vagelis Lambakis, Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, Deputy Mayor of Feres Nikolaos Gotsis, and Sebaidin Karahotza, journalist, Pomak. Over the course of the day, the delegation made stops and attended briefings in Thessaloniki, Kavala, Xanthi, Alexandroupolis and Feres. The delegation was hosted for lunch at Feres Military Base. The group also was hosted for dinner at the Officers’ Club by Lieutenant General Ilias A. Leontaris, commander, C' Army Corps and HQ NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Greece.
“We are grateful to Lieutenant General Leontaris for his unselfish assistance in the coordination and logistical arrangements of our visit,” Larigakis said. “In particular, we thank him for the dinner he hosted for our delegation before we left Thessaloniki.”
AHI Hosts 11th Athens Awards Dinner
The Eleventh Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner was held May 27 at The Grande Bretagne. Honorees were: Constantine Galanis, CEO/president, Quimica Apollo S.A. de C.V. in Mexico City, Mexico and the ACS Athens-American Community Schools. U.S. Ambassador to Greece David Pearce provided the keynote address. More than 270 AHI friends and supporters attended the dinner at The Grande Bretagne.
In his address, Ambassador Pearce spoke about the state of U.S.-Greece relations and the United States’ desire to play a role in stabilizing Greece during the economic crisis.
“[The United States] encourage[s] Greece to continue to work closely and collaboratively with European and IMF partners, to implement credible and concrete reforms that make the economy more competitive, productive, and open to trade and investment, such reforms will be important to unlocking new financial assistance to help Greece through its current equity crisis and beyond,” the ambassador said. “We continue to encourage support projects that will increase Greek and EU energy security, reduce dependence on one supplier of gas, increase competition and reduce prices for consumers.”
The ambassador also emphasized the alliance between the United States and Greece is as strong as ever, adding that regional security, economy, and energy diversification are topics of productive dialogue between the two NATO allies.
Of AHI, Ambassador Pearce said, “AHI not only focuses on public policy, but on achievements on individuals and institutions that strengthen ties between the U.S. and Greece.”
The ambassador also remarked about how the United States is proud to see the American School (ACS), an honoree of the evening, has maintained the American scholarly model in Greece.
Olga Bornozi of Capital Link served exceptionally as Master of Ceremonies. Ilias Malevitis, president, AHI-Greece; George C. Economou, president, AHI-Athens Chapter; Panagiotis Madamopoulos-Moraris, director of Development; and AHI Members Katerina Papathanassiou and Sylvia Gavalla contributed to the dinner’s success.
In addition to Ambassador Pearce, dignitaries in attendance included: Vice Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis H.N., chief, Hellenic Navy General Staff and a number of bipartisan members of Parliament.
“We congratulate our honorees and commend them for their excellence in their respective sector of industry and their contributions to society,” Larigakis said. “We are delighted this special event, now in its eleventh year, continues to grow. We would like to thank the AHI-Athens Chapter for its hard work.”
AHI Delegation Participants
On the trip, AHI President Nick Larigakis was accompanied by: AHI Board Members Leon Andris and Gus Andy; AHI Central and South America representatives Costas and Sophia Galanis, and AHI Legislative Director Georgea Polizos.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
For additional information, please contact Georgea Polizos at (202) 785-8430 or at email@example.com. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at https://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.
AHI Conducts Annual Trip to Greece, Cyprus