American Hellenic Institute


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December 27, 2016—No. 61 (202) 785-8430

AHI Presentations in Athens, Nicosia Features Cato Senior Fellow

AHI President Meets Top Level Government Officials in Greece, Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted two presentations featuring Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute, in Nicosia, Cyprus, Nov. 28, 2016; and Athens, Greece, Dec. 1, 2016, at the Hotel Grande Bretagne.  Bandow presented on the topic, “The New U.S. President: What Does This Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean?”

“What policy the incoming Trump administration will follow in the Eastern Mediterranean remains unclear, though some outlines are apparent: support for Israel, focus on the Islamic State, pressure for increased allied support,” Bandow said. “Of greatest concern are the comments of some administration designees suggesting that they believe Turkey is America's most important friend in the region. This runs against recent experience, in which Ankara has proved to be inconsistent in combating ISIS, reckless in risking war with Russia, and repressive in dismantling what democratic freedoms its people once enjoyed.”  

He added, “The incoming administration needs to take a more clear-eyed view of a country that unfortunately has become more foe than friend.”

“We thank Doug Bandow for taking the time to address our audiences abroad,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “We appreciated his presentation which provided excellent insight and perspective on where U.S. foreign policy might be headed under a Trump Administration, especially at this early stage of the administration’s formulation.” 

In Athens, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt attended the presentation and offered special greetings to the standing room only audience of more than 160 persons who attended.  Ambassador Pyatt Pyatt conveyed his gratitude to AHI for its help in strengthening U.S.-Greece relations.  

AHI hosted the presentation in Athens in cooperation with its AHI-Athens Chapter.  AHI-Athens President George Economou provided opening remarks.  Alpha-1 TV covered the presentation.  The station’s owner, Dimitri Contominas, also was in attendance.

In Cyprus, AHI hosted the presentation in cooperation with Press and Information Office of Cyprus.  A Q&A with the audience followed both presentations.  

AHI thanks the following sponsors for their support of the presentation and reception:

Major Benefactor: The Libra Group.

Benefactors: G.C. Economou & Associates.

Sponsors: American Community Schools Athens, Lockheed Martin, Olympiacos F.C., The American College of Greece, Greek Dream, Inc., Hotel Grande Bretagne, Epirotiki Cruises, K. Arvanitis S.A., Kapotas S.A., James H. Lagos, Springfield, Ohio; and State Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis, Coventry, R.I.

“We thank all our benefactors and sponsors that helped to make this event a success,” Larigakis said. “We especially are grateful to The Libra Group, our Major Benefactor, for its generosity and support.  I would also like to thank AHI-Athens President George Economou for his assistance in making the presentation a success.”


AHI President Meets with Government Officials in Nicosia

In Nicosia, President Nick Larigakis met with several government officials, Nov. 28 and 29, including: U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Kathleen Doherty, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, Speaker of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris, and Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, chief negotiators of the current Cyprus settlement talks. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Doug Bandow accompanied Larigakis to the meetings.

“I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in relations between the United States and Cyprus as well as the ongoing settlement talks,” Larigakis said. “The talks are approaching a critical timeline in January. In meetings, I reaffirmed AHI’s position on a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue, and AHI’s continued work with policymakers in the United States to ensure the environment provides for successful negotiations.”  

The Cypriot Press and Information Office also hosted a luncheon for President Larigakis, which was sponsored by the office’s acting director, Patricia Hadjisotiriou.  In addition, Journalist Antigoni Drousioti, Phileleftheros, interviewed President Larigakis.

Events in Greece

In Athens, President Larigakis attended a series of meetings with government officials, Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, including: U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, Dec. 7; Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Nov. 30; Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, Dec. 1; and Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, Nov. 30.  He also met with Alternate Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Terrence Quick, Nov. 30.  Additional meetings were held with: Michalis Kokkinos, head of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, and several foreign ministry desk officers for North America, Cyprus, Turkey, and the Balkans, Dec. 2; and Danae Badogianni, special advisor, EU and International Relations Office, General Secretariat of the Prime Minister, Dec. 7.

“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with a wide array of senior Greek government and military officials,” Larigakis said. “We discussed AHI’s programs and initiatives that work to keep Greece at the forefront of policymakers’ agenda in Washington.  We also discussed Greece’s critical role to national security interests in the eastern Mediterranean and the broader region.”

He added, “I also appreciate the generous time Ambassador Pyatt afforded me to discuss issues of mutual interest in the best interest of strengthening relations between the United States and Greece.”

In addition, at the invitation of the chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Georgios Giakoumakis, Larigakis attended a celebration for the Hellenic Navy, which is held on the Feast Day of Saint Nicholas, at the Greek Naval Academy at Piraeus, Dec. 6. Among the officials in attendance was President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

Also during the visit to Greece, President Larigakis also attended an American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce dinner, Nov. 29 and an awards dinner for the Greek shipping industry, Dec. 2.  

Visit to Larissa

President Larigakis travelled to Larissa for the day to visit the headquarters of the Hellenic First Army Unit for the Feast Day of St. Barbara celebration at the invitation of Lt. Gen. Ilias Leontaris, commander, Hellenic First Army Unit, Larissa, Dec. 4.  Saint Barbara is the patron saint of the artillery.  Lt. Gen. Leontaris also hosted the AHI president for a dinner at the Army Headquarters Officers’ Club where several dignitaries from the Larissa community attended.

Also in Larissa, Lt. Gen. Christos Christodoulou of the Chief Hellenic Tactical Air Force invited Larigakis to tour the tactical air base, and he hosted Larigakis for a luncheon at the Air Force Officers’ Club.    

During his stay at Larissa, one of Greece’s oldest newspapers, Eleftheria, interviewed President Larigakis.

“Thank you to Lieutenant General Ilias Leontaris for arranging my visit to the headquarters of a vitally important military unit and to be briefed on recent developments,” Larigakis said. “I also thank Lieutenant General Leontaris and Lieutenant General Christos Christodoulou for their hospitality in hosting a luncheon and dinner on AHI’s behalf.”  

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community. 


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