AHI President Concludes Successful First-ever Visit to Australia
WASHINGTON, DC — American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis concluded AHI’s first-ever official visit to Australia, March 27 to April 11, 2017, where he met with Greek Australian communities and public officials in four cities: Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. In each city, he delivered a major speech.
President Larigakis began his visit in Canberra where he held discussions with Greek and Cypriot diplomatic representatives and with various Australian members of Parliament as part of the Australian Hellenic Council (AHC) NSW’s lobby day, which is a two-day event. He raised awareness of the pressing issues confronting the eastern Mediterranean with the parliamentarians, including Turkey’s provocations in the Aegean and its intransigence on the Cyprus settlement talks. Larigakis also gave a lecture at the Hellenic Club Woden sponsored by AHC NSW where he reiterated the developments in the eastern Mediterranean and discussed AHI’s work to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus.
“The Australian Hellenic Council applauds the dedication and initiative shown by Nick Larigakis and the American Hellenic Institute in its constant lobbying and advocacy for Greece and wishes them every success in the future,” the organization’s press release stated.
President Larigakis arrived in Melbourne April 2. There, he delivered a lecture to the Greek Australian community on the topic “United States Relations with Greece & Cyprus: The Role of the American Hellenic Institute,” on April 3, at The Greek Centre, a 13-story building. The Greek Community of Melbourne and the Pan-Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria sponsored the lecture. Approximately 150 persons attended. In addition, Larigakis met with various ministers of Victoria, Consul General of Greece in Melbourne Christina Simantirakis, and representatives of the Greek and Cypriot Australian community of Melbourne. While in Melbourne, Larigakis was interviewed by two radio stations, SBS Radio and 3 XY, and a newspaper, Neo Kosmos. Finally, he toured the Hellenic Museum Melbourne and attended a dinner afterwards hosted by the Cypriot community of Melbourne in his honor.
In Perth, The Right Honorable the Lord Mayor of Perth, Lisa Scaffidi, hosted a welcome reception in President Larigakis’ honor and presented him with a commemorative gift, April 6. The reception was held at the city’s Council House, which was lit in blue and white, and attended by 90 persons. In addition, Larigakis spoke to the high school students and teachers of Saint Andrew’s Grammar K-12 School (akin to a Greek charter school) and toured its campus and E & M Petrelis Amphitheater. President Larigakis and 10 leading businessmen were hosted for lunch by the newly elected Member of the Legislative Assembly Mr. Peter Katsambanis at the State Parliament House, April 7. On April 8, President Larigakis delivered a lecture to 80 persons at Alexander the Great Club in Inglewood, which was also sponsored by Australian Hellenic Council of Western Australia. In sum, Larigakis addressed 330 people on topics ranging from the eastern Mediterranean policy and the diaspora’s involvement, to the Cyprus issue, to religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, during his visit to Perth.
President Larigakis’s visit to Australia included two stops in Sydney. The first, March 31 to April 2, included a meeting with Consul General of Greece in Sydney Dr. Stavros Kyrimis; a luncheon with 16 leading Greek Australian businesspersons sponsored by John Azarias, a former Greek diplomat, at the Australia Club; and a tour of the Sydney Jewish Museum. In addition, Commodore of the Royal Motor Yacht Club of New South Wales John Barbouttis, provided Larigakis with a tour of Sydney Harbour.
President Larigakis returned to Sydney, April 9 to 11, where he delivered his fourth major speech of the trip to the Greek Australian community of Sydney at the AHEPA Australia House on April 10. AHEPA Australia and Australian Hellenic Council (AHC) sponsored Larigakis’s presentation. Also on April 10, President Larigakis met with His Eminence Archbishop of Australia Stylianos; and AHC Coordinator George Vellis provided Larigakis with a tour of Sydney. Grand President of AHEPA Grand Lodge of NSW and New Zealand John Kallimanis hosted President Larigakis for a dinner with community leaders on April 9.
Special Acknowledgements & In Gratitude
“I sincerely thank the dynamic members of the Greek Australian community for their generous hospitality and for organizing an impactful itinerary of meetings and events in each of the four cities I visited,” Larigakis said. “I appreciated the opportunity to hold discussions with key officials and to share AHI’s message about the important work the Institute performs regarding policy toward Greece and Cyprus with all audiences.”
President Larigakis added: “My sincere gratitude to George Vellis, George Vardas, Elly Symons of the AHC for helping to organize the Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne portions of my trip. My appreciation also goes to Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Dr. Stavros Kyrimis, for all his invaluable assistance in Sydney. Furthermore, thank you to AHEPA Grand President John Kallimanis and AHEPA Grand Secretary Dr. Panayiotis Diamadis for their hospitality.
“Additionally, thank you to Commodore John Barbouttis for an incredible, breathtaking two-hour tour of Sydney Harbour and to the president of Greek community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, who hosted a welcome dinner upon my arrival in Melbourne and who helped to organize my Melbourne speech.
“Finally, my deepest gratitude and appreciation to Con Barbatis, longtime AHI supporter and representative of the Australian Hellenic Council in Perth, Western Australia, who organized my great visit to Perth, but more importantly, who invited me to Australia and helped to coordinate the entire trip, including for his underwriting for a major portion of my overall trip.”
Press Releases Issued in Australia Summarizing Events
For more details about the meetings and events that transpired during President Nick Larigakis’s visit to Australia, please download the following press releases issued by the AHC.
In sum, five media interviews were conducted during Larigakis’s two-week visit.
The American Hellenic Institute is an independent 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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