November 1, 2004 — Volume 31, Number 230
AHI Legislation Introduced in Congress to Allow Americans to Sue Turkey in U.S. Court
On September 14, 2004, Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) introduced the American Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, H.R. 5071, initiated by the American Hellenic Institute. Joining Representative Pallone as original co-sponsors were Representatives Mike Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NJ), the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues.
If passed, this bill will enable U.S. citizens who own property in the Turkish occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus to seek financial remedies with either the current inhabitants of their land or the Turkish government.
This new bill will allow American nationals to seek financial remedies regarding their property through the following three methods:
“AHI considers this bill to be landmark legislation, which for the first time provides American nationals a vehicle whereby they can pursue their legal claims regarding their rightful ownership of property on the illegally occupied portion of Cyprus,” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
3rd Annual Future of Hellenism Conference Hosted
On October 16, 2004, the American Hellenic Institute Foundation held its third annual conference on “The Future of Hellenism in America” in Washington, D.C. The conference featured prominent speakers from the fields of education, law, and the private sector, who identified key challenges facing the Greek American community today.
Opening the conference was James Marketos, Esq., Chairman of AHI. The moderator for the morning session was Dr. Dean C. Lomis, Director Emeritus for the International Center at the University of Delaware. The morning session speakers included: Gene Rossides, President of the American Hellenic Institute Foundation, Ted G. Spyropoulos, President of the Hellenic American National Council, Hercules Mousiades, Professor at the Anatolia College and Managing Principal for Praxi Management Consultants, and Professor Leonidas Polopolus, Co-Director for the Center for Greek Studies at University of Florida. The luncheon speaker was Ambassador Loucas Tsilas, Executive Director for the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, Inc.
The moderator for the afternoon session was Nick Larigakis, Executive Director of the American Hellenic Institute. The afternoon panel speakers included: Thanos Basdekis, Esq., Partner, Reagan, Halperin & Long, Alexander Kitroeff, Professor of History at Haverford College, and Father Charles Joanides, Ph.D.
Panelists spoke on the following topics:
The conference organizer Nick Larigakis stated, “This conference, initiated by AHI three years ago, serves to provide a forum whereby a discussion on the future of Hellenism can ensue. The important thing is to continue to educate ourselves on these very important issues regarding our community. In doing so, it will assist us to provide a critical analysis and realistic recommendations regarding the future needs of Greek Americans. I wish to especially thank the participants, speakers, and benefactors who contributed to a successful 3rd Annual AHIF Conference.”
First Annual AHI Benefit Golf Tournament Hosted
On October 17, 2004, AHI hosted its First Annual AHI Benefit Golf Tournament at the Greendale Golf Course in Alexandria, Virginia. The winning team in the scramble format competition consisted of George Tzaferos, George Lambardakis, Constantine Larigakis, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. Finishing in second place was the team of Nathan Riedel, Demetri Koutrouvelis, Peter Michaels, and Hratch Pakhchanian. Third place went to the team of U.S. Marshals led by Reggie Bradshaw and including Peter Marketos, Michael Miley, and John Stantinos. All of the members of these winning teams were awarded trophies for their outstanding efforts.
Golf Cart Sponsors included Bouras Industries, Inc., Market Development Group, Inc., and T.G.S. Petroleum, Inc. Hole Sponsors for the tournament were Atlantis Family Restaurant, C&R Realty & The Courembis Family, Euclid Financial Group, Mykonos Grill, NICO Properties Group, P.J. Mechanical, Pappas Telecasting Companies, Regan, Halperin & Long, PLLC, Sfikas & Karambelas, LLP, the Stephen G. Yeonas Company, and The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. Tournament Registration Sponsors included including Craig Griffith of State Farm Insurance, Dr. James G. Faller, the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, Inc., Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel, LLP, Olympic Family Restaurant, Pappas Restaurants, Pelonis, USA Ltd., Peter Zikos Insurance, and Tom Sarris Orleans House. AHI Director of Business Development Taryn Sifakis was instrumental in organizing and running the event.
AHI Hosts Seminar on the Future of Cyprus
On May 19, 2004, AHI presented a seminar titled “Cyprus—The Road Ahead and U.S. Interests” at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C. The seminar was moderated by Lt. Colonel Harry Dinella, and the panel included:
Panelists commented on what interests the U.S. should pursue in Cyprus now that Cyprus is a full-fledged member of the European Union. Discussion was placed in the context of the failed political process that aimed at achieving a just resolution of the unlawful occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey.
Greek-American Voters United on Major Issues
The Hellenic Communications Service (HCS) recently released results of an AHI-drafted survey of Greek American voters. With the U.S. elections on the near horizon, the HCS-AHI survey polled Greek Americans on five main issues of concern to the Greek American community, including:
The results of the survey indicated that, on a broad scale, Greek American voters are united in their views on these five issues of concern. The following main conclusions were drawn by the HCS survey team based on responses received:
Full results of the HCS-AHI survey, along with more in-depth analysis, can be found on the Hellenic Communication Service’s Web Site at <www.helleniccomserve.com/votersurveyresults.html>.
Delegation Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus
From May 22–June 4, 2004, 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 was comprised of AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHI Advisory Committee members Kostas Alexakis, Thanos Basdekis, and Nick Karambelas, AHI members Gus Andy and Dr. Takey Crist, AHI Cyprus Chapter President Dr. Van Coufoudakis, and AHI Media Relations Director Vivian H. Basdekis. Dr. Crist served as Chair of the delegation for the Cyprus portion of the visit. In Athens, the AHI delegation included Messrs. Rossides, Larigakis, Alexakis, Andy, Basdekis, Karambelas, and Ms. Basdekis. They were joined by AHI Athens Chapter President Ilias Malevitis and AHI members Aleco Haralambides and Dr. Christine Warnke. Mr. Karambelas served as Chair of the delegation for the Athens portion of the trip.
The AHI delegation arrived in Nicosia on May 23. Over the course of the next four days, the delegation met with President Tassos Papadopoulos, Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Christodoulos Christodoulou, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos, AHI major benefactor and business leader George Paraskevaides, former Cyprus Ambassadors to the United States Andros Nicolaides and Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Cyprus’ House of Representatives Nicos Anastasiades, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign AffairsSotos Zackheos, Director of Press and Information Office Yiannakis Solomou, Government Spokesperson Kypros Chrysostomides, and Deputy Mayor of Nicosia Ms. Lia Tseriotis.
In addition to these meetings, Mr. Rossides was interviewed by Philippos Stylianou of the Cyprus Weekly, discussing AHI’s role in spearheading efforts to generate greater understanding in the U.S. about Cyprus and the inequities of the Annan Plan.
The AHI delegation also attended a meeting with longtime friend and major AHI benefactor George Paraskevaides, the founder of Joannou & Paraskevaides, Ltd. (J&P), during which time they discussed Cyprus’ historic ties with the United States. Mr. Paraskevaidesalso hosted a cocktail reception at the Cyprus Hilton Hotel for the AHI delegation and other guests, where AHI paid tribute to its host for his unparalleled commitment to bettering the lives of all Cypriots.
After concluding its visit to Cyprus, the AHI delegation proceeded to Athens. Meetings there were held during the week of May 28-June 4 with President of the Hellenic Republic Constantine Stephanopoulos, Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Defense Minister of U.S. Affairs Spiliakos Spiliotopoulos, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller, Ambassador Constantina Prifti, Alternate Minister of CultureFani Palli-Petralia, Managing Director of the Cultural Olympiad Georgia Iliopoulou, Cyprus Desk Officer Anna Korka, and former PASOK Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos.
AHI and the AHI-Athens Chapter also sponsored an elegant dinner reception at the Athens Plaza Hotel. The guest speaker for the evening was Deputy Mayor of Athens Kalliopi Bourdara. She spoke in place of Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, who was unable to attend the event. Another highlight of the evening was special guest NBA player Dikembe Mutombo. Mr.Mutombo spoke at the reception about his philanthropic efforts and the upcoming Olympic Games. Over 120 members, friends and supporters attended the event.
For additional photos from the delegation trip, please link to <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/070804.html>.
Executive Director Volunteers for the Athens Olympics
In August 2004, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis participated as one of over 45,000 volunteers for the momentous 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. During Mr. Larigakis’ fourteen-day long volunteer experience, he not only served as a volunteer but also found the time to attend numerous athletic events.
Mr. Larigakis’ official volunteer title was “Protocol Venue Attendant” where he assisted with International Olympic Committee (IOC) relations and protocol. He worked in the Olympic Indoor Hall (OIH), which was located next to the Olympic Stadium. During his volunteer duties, he was in a unique position to witness first-hand all the extraordinary gymnastics and basketball finals, including seeing the gold medal ceremony for Greek gymnast Dimosthenis Tabakos on rings.
During the course of the two weeks at the OIH, Mr. Larigakis met and greeted various athletes and prominent guests, including: the legendary track star Carl Lewis; former Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comenici; former Baseball Commissioner Peter Uberoth; IOC President Jaques Rogge; heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield; U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm; Queen Sophia of Spain; former coach of the Washington Wizards Doug Collins; NBA Commissioner David Stern; U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller; Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki; President of PASOK George Papandreou; Alternate Cultural Minister Fani Palli-Petralia; Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni; and many more.
Nick Larigakis’ has written an extended story regarding his experience as a volunteer. His remarks have been released to a number of Greek American publications, including The Hellenic Voice, and The Hellenic News of America, which has published the account. The story is also available on AHI’s Web Site at <www.ahiworld.org>.
Greece’s Olympics Achievement Recognized by Senate
Paul S. Sarbanes U.S. Senator for the State of Maryland, played a key role in passing S.Res.427 in the U.S. Senate, which congratulates the citizens of Greece, the Olympic Organizing Committee, all the athletes, and all those who participated in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens. The Senator authored the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 39 of his Senate colleagues.
AHI Fundraising Reception Hosted in New Hampshire
On October 7, 2004, AHI members Thanasi and Stephanie Liakos graciously opened their beautiful home in Nashua, New Hampshire for a reception in support of the American Hellenic Institute. Over 40 friends and members attended this gathering, including Constantine Bikas, Greek Counsel General of Boston. The special guest for the evening was AHI Executive Director. In his remarks Mr. Larigakis commented on AHI goals and objectives and also thanked everyone for their support.
AHI Leadership Interviewed
In recent months, AHI founder Gene Rossides and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis have been interviewed by a number of media outlets, both in the U.S. and abroad, regarding AHI’s various activities, events and positions on key issues for the Greek American community. Interviews have included:
The Washington Times Prints AHI Letter
On July 30, 2004, The Washington Times published AHI President Gene Rossides’ letter to the editor responding to Mehmet Ali Talat’s article on Cyprus, titled “Moving Forward on Cyprus.” Mr. Talat is Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (which is recognized only by Turkey). In his article, he asserts incorrectly that the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is the fault of Greek Cypriots. AHI’s letter rebutted this argument, stating that the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots was caused and continues to be caused by the Turkish military’s 35,000 illegal troops in northern occupied Cyprus and the Green Line barbed-wire fence erected by the Turkish military across the face of Cyprus.
Op-Ed by AHI President Published in The National Herald
An op-ed by AHI President Gene Rossides, titled “Greece or Turkey: Who Is Best for U.S. Interests?” appeared in The National Herald on October 16, 2004.The op-ed highlighted Greece’s historic status as a stable and reliable U.S. ally, in contrast to Turkey’s often wavering support of U.S. interests. According to Mr. Rossides, “Greece is a strategic ally of great importance to the U.S. interests, and has proven its reliability.”
AHI Letter to The Post Responds to Op-Ed on Turkey
On September 21, 2004, AHI President Gene Rossides submitted a letter to the editor responding to The Washington Post’s September 21 op-ed titled, “Rejecting Turkey, And the Future,” by Fareed Zakaria. The letter illustrated that “Turkey is far from being eligible for an accession date for negotiations to the EU.”
AHI Letter Responds to New York Times Article
On July 14, 2004, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis submitted a letter to the editor responding to a New York Times article titled, “Athens Seemed Like a Good Idea” (Wednesday, July 14, 2004; Page C13). Mr. Larigakis’ letter rebutted the article’s exaggerated assertions that questioned whether Athens would be prepared on time to host the Olympic Games.
AHI Commemorates “OXI” Day
On October 28, 2004, AHI commemorated the 64th Anniversary of “OXI” Day, Greece’s refusal that same day 64 years earlier (1940) to surrender to Mussolini’s Italian fascist government during World War II. During the noon forum held at the Hellenic House, AHI President Gene Rossides gave a presentation on “OXI Day and the Battle of Greece: The Importance of Greece to the United States Then and Today.” Greece’s heroic resistance played a pivotal role in the ultimate victory of the Allied Forces in World War II. Mr. Rossides’ full remarks from the event are available at <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/press2005.html>.
In conjunction with its noon forum on OXI Day, AHI hosted a reception to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Hellenic House later that evening. Members from the Greek American community were in attendance, including most notably the Ambassador of Cyprus to the U.S. Euripides Evriviades.
AHI Hosts Hill Forum on “Cyprus: 30 Years Later”
On July 7, 2004, the American Hellenic Institute hosted a noon forum on “Cyprus: 30 Years Later—An Assessment of the Annan Plan and Where Do We Go From Here” at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill in remembrance of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and its co-chairs, Representatives Michael Bilirakis(R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
Speakers included Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Rep. Bilirakis, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), journalist and author Christopher Hitchens, President of Global Information Systems, Inc. Gregory Copley, and AHI President Gene Rossides.
Members of Hellenic Parliament Meet AHI Leadership
On October 27, 2004, two members of Hellenic Parliament, along with representatives of the Greek Embassy in Washington, met with AHI leadership and staff to discuss AHI’s mission and to identify areas of future cooperation between the two entities. The Members of Parliament included Petros Efthymiou, who is also a former minister of education, and Panos Kammenos, Head of the Greek Delegation to the OSCE PA. They were accompanied by the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Greek Embassy Eleftherios Anghelopoulos and the Embassy’s Political Counselor Despina Lourbacou. Messrs. Kammenos and Efthymiou were on a visit to the U.S. to observe the November 2nd U.S. Presidential Election proceedings.
The meeting focused in part on the role of education in promoting Hellenism in the U.S., with specific reference to methods for improving Greek school education opportunities. Also discussed was AHI’s role in influencing U.S. policy on key issues of concern to the Greek American community at the legislative and executive branch levels. Finally, the importance of maintaining an open dialogue and continued cooperation between AHI, the Greek American community, and the Greek government was emphasized.
New U.S. Ambassador to Greece Visits Hellenic House
On October 26, 2004, the new U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Charles P. Ries, visited AHI for a one-hour meeting with leadership and staff. The AHI attendees had the opportunity to voice their perspectives on items of mutual interest regarding U.S. relations with Greece, with an emphasis on the need for a solution to the Cyprus issue. Ambassador Ries agreed that a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation is the best answer. Also discussed were the following issues: the Aegean Sea Boundary, Albania, the Macedonia name, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology. Ambassador Ries concluded by saying that he will keep interactive communications with AHI regarding these and other policy issues.
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Discusses U.S.-Greece Business Relations
On September 27, 2004, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Evripidis Stylianidis, Special Advisor Georgios Pandremenos, and Ambassador George Vallantis, accompanied by the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Greek Embassy Eleftherios Anghelopoulos, visited AHI to discuss U.S.-Greece business relations. The Greek officials met with members of the AHI leadership.
During the one-hour meeting, the members of the AHI leadership had the opportunity to review several items of mutual interest concerning U.S. business relations with Greece, including ways to intensify bilateral economic ties, and American investments to Greece and Greek exports to the U.S. The meeting also included a discussion of how to mutually advance these items, as well as a review of AHI’s initiatives in engaging the Greek American community in business ties with Greece.
May 17, 2004
A joint letter to President George W. Bush urged the “termination of the Turkey-Israel military cooperation understanding as not in the best interests of the U.S” and “a critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey.” The letter, which was signed by AHI, the American Kurdish Information Network, the Hellenic American National Council and the American Hellenic Council of California, outlined reasons why continuation of such an alliance has already and will continue to result in failed U.S. foreign policy in that region.
June 21, 2004
Along the same lines of AHI’s June 18 letter to Colin Powell (see “Letters to Government Officials”), AHI sent a letter to President George W. Bush setting the record straight on the Annan Plan, and outlining the cover-up of the State Department’s role in Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus.
July 22, 2004
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis sent a letter to President George W. Bush requesting that he issue a statement outlining his position on key issues of concern to the Greek American community, including: (1) Cyprus, (2) the Ecumenical Patriarchate, (3) Albania, and (4) the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The letter also requested that President Bush respond by outlining his position on these issues.
June 18, 2004
AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to dispute the unseemly and undiplomatic attacks by U.S. officials on the Greek Cypriots for their rejection of the Annan Plan for Cyprus. The letter also highlighted the cover-up of the State Department’s role in Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
August 2, 2004
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis sent a letter to Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator John Kerry outlining the organization’s position on the following issues of concern to the Greek American community: (1) Cyprus, (2) the Ecumenical Patriarchate, (3) Albania, and (4) the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The letter also requested that Senator Kerry detail his position on these issues.
June 25, 2004
AHI President Gene Rossides issued a statement calling for an end to NATO’s policy of appeasement and its double standard on the rule of law with regards to Turkey. The statement asserted that Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus is a stain on NATO’s history and will remain so until Turkey removes its illegal troops and settlers and ends its illegal occupation of Cyprus.
July 20, 2004
AHI issued a statement commemorating the tragic 30-year anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion and illegal occupation of the sovereign country of Cyprus. AHI also noted that, since 1974, U.S. policy on the Cyprus problem has been a foreign policy failure. For years, the U.S. has favored Turkey regarding Cyprus, thereby disregarding its moral obligation and national security interests.
July 26, 2004
AHI issued a statement that denounced the State Department’s publication of inaccurate and misleading data regarding the significant Greek community in Albania, that nation’s largest minority. The statement called for the State Department to revise its incorrect figures as published in the July 2004 Background Note for Albania, prepared by the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the State Department. These figures misrepresent the ethnic Greek population of Albania as 1.17 percent of the total population. The actual percentage of the Greek minority, as reported by numerous international authorities, is considerably higher. According to the Library of CongressCountry Studies latest report on Albania (April 1992), the Greek minority constitutes 8 percent of the population. Similarly, the CIA World Fact Book (1992) records the Greek minority at 8 percent of the total population. Another international organization, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, estimates the Greek minority in Albania to be 280,000 people of a total population of approximately 3,200,000, or roughly 8.75 percent of the population.
October 8, 2004
An AHI action alert sent to AHI members and friends thanked John Kerry and John Edwards for their statement to the Greek American community, but noted shortcomings in their response. The alert also expressed AHI’s disappointment at not having received a response from the Bush/Cheney ticket as of that date. Members and friends were asked to contact presidential and congressional candidates with a questionnaire regarding issues of concern to the Greek American community, requesting that candidates respond with their views on U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.
October 15, 2004
AHI issued an action alert thanking the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign for their statement titled, “Sharing and Supporting Greek American Issues and Values.” However, the alert noted shortcomings in the positions expressed on these issues, and again urged AHI members and friends to contact presidential and congressional candidates with the 2004 Questionnaire to Presidential and Congressional Candidates for their perspectives on issues critical to the Greek American community.
Gene Rossides Honored With “Commander of the Order of the Phoenix” Award
On September 23, 2004, AHI President Gene Rossides was presented with the Commander of the Order of the Phoenix award by the President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos. During a special ceremony held in the Presidential Palace in Athens, Mr. Rossides and 16 other distinguished guests were honored for their efforts concerning Greece in the area of politics, literature and art.
In presenting Mr. Rossides with this award, President Stephanopoulos stated, “Mr. Rossides is a Greek born in the U.S., who has served his American country in a very diverse way, but has never forgotten his Greek and Cypriot heritage. He founded the American Hellenic Institute, which contributes to the best of its abilities towards the solution and promotion of our national problems for decades. Mr. Rossides remains not only the founder, but also the president of the Institute with his continuous efforts.”
AHI Chairman James Marketos stated: “For more than 30 years, Gene Rossides has been the conscience of U.S. public policy in relation to Greece, Cyprus, and their regional neighbors. Through the American Hellenic Institute, the public affairs organization he founded in 1974, Gene has championed the rule of law as the foundation for U.S. foreign policy. With an independent and forceful voice, Gene has exposed double-standards and successfully redressed unjustifiable policy imbalances, never losing sight of the best interests of the U.S. We congratulate Gene on being awarded the Commander of the Order of the Phoenix and look forward to his continuing leadership in public affairs.”
The Commander of the “Order of the Phoenix” was established in 1962 and is one of the four decorations of Greece. These merits were instituted during the Middle Ages by various rulers and presented as either knighthood or religious orders. Today, the symbolism of these distinctions remain.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the AHI members and staff and my family, without whom this award would not have been possible,” said Mr. Rossides. “I particularly mention the late founding members General James A. Van Fleet and George Livanos, and key supporters over the past decades George Paraskevaides, the late A.G. Leventis, the Leventis family, George Spyropoulos, Jim Pedas, Ted Pedas, Jim Lagos, Gus Andy, Ted Spyropoulos, George Behrakis, Angelo Tsakopoulos, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, Savvas Savopoulos, John Rigas, James Nicholas, Nick Chimicles, Julia Booras, Dr. Spyros Kitromilis, Nicholas Bouras, Tim Maniatis, Aris Anagnos, Harry J. Pappas, Dr. Ted Lyras, Dr. Dean C. Lomis, Dr. Takey Crist and the late Stelios Joannou.
“I also want to mention and thank the key Greek American membership organizations: the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Hellenic American Women’s Council, the Pan Macedonian Association, the Pan Cretan Association, the Pan Epirotic Association, and the Cyprus Federation of America for their cooperation and for their support of the annual Greek American Policy Statements.
“This award will give added incentive to the AHI members and staff and to me to redouble our efforts for the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy and strong U.S.–Greece and U.S.–Cyprus relationships as in the best interests of the U.S.”
BUSINESS NETWORK AT WORK
AHI Hosts Business Network Luncheon on “Inheritance Law in Greece”
On September 29, 2004, AHI hosted a business network luncheon on the subject of “Inheritance Law in Greece” at the Capital Hilton Hotel with guest speaker Steven N. Kourtis. Mr. Kourtis is a Partner at Diakopoulos, Mylonogiannis & Kourtis in Athens, Greece, where he represents American companies and individuals doing business in Greece, and Greek companies and individuals doing business in the U.S. The firm’s clients include major U.S. and foreign corporations such as EDS, Benjamin Moore, York International, PNC Bank, Twentieth Century Fox, TGIF Restaurants, Goldman Sachs, and South African Brewery. Recently the firm represented Athens Olympic Broadcasting, which was the company selected to broadcast the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
A transcript of Mr. Kourtis’ presentation is available by sending a $20 check payable to the American Hellenic Institute, 1220 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Promoting Hellenic Culture Through the Cultural Olympiad
The best of Greece was on display for the world to see this summer as the country played host to the historic Games of the 28th Olympiad. And playing a central role in highlighting Greece’s cultural contributions to mankind during the four year (2001-2004) run-up to the Olympics was AHI member Georgia Iliopoulou in her capacity as managing director of the Hellenic Culture Organization (HCO). Better-known as the Cultural Olympiad, this four year period before and during the Games featured various museum shows, concerts, dance performances, theater, and other special events to promote Hellenic culture to the world.
Founded by the 1997 “Institutions, Measures and Actions for Cultural Development” law of the Hellenic Republic, the Hellenic Culture Organization’s mission is to promote the cultural heritage and resources of Greece, as well as to organize and endorse the Cultural Olympiad as part of the policy designed by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture. In her role at the HCO, Ms. Iliopoulou is responsible for cultural events within the framework of the Cultural Olympiad and for the organization’s overall communication strategy.
Over the course of Ms. Iliopoulou’s career, a key focal point has always been the theme of culture. In 1989, she founded the cultural society LAVRIS. She served as its president and managing director until April 2004, at which time she was appointed to her current position at the HCO. During her time at LAVRIS, she was responsible for producing major cultural events, bringing foreign artists and groups to Greece, creating and supervising the organization of cultural institutions, promoting Greek artists abroad, and arranging cultural exchanges with governments and the cultural sections of foreign embassies. She has also taken part in many important international seminars on topics such as cultural management, culture and diplomacy, and has represented Greece through international organizations at international cultural fora and at leading international festivals. In these various capacities, Ms. Iliopoulou has played an active role in Greece’s foreign cultural policy.
In her interview with AHI, Ms. Iliopoulou discussed some of the main challenges in promoting the initiatives of the Cultural Olympiad. “First and foremost, we have to perpetuate the dissemination of the Greek culture and to place it within a multicultural global environment,” she noted. Ms. Iliopoulou also pointed out that, “Greek culture is unique. In order to comprehend its greatness, you need to trace its origins and study them. Once you start doing that, the rewards are immense. You discover the strength of man throughout time, his amazing mind, his power of achievement. You discover yourself. And that is truly the greatest reward.”
When asked about Hellenism in the diaspora, Ms. Iliopoulou stated that, “the Greek communities around the world play a very important role in preserving the Hellenic cultural identity. They can also be the vehicle for spreading the Greek culture abroad.” Ms. Iliopoulou also pointed out that contact with the diaspora communities in the U.S. is a major issue for anyone who has the responsibility of promoting Hellenism and Greek Culture. “You have to be able to cater to their needs, listen to their thoughts, and have an ongoing dialogue. This is [the HCO’s] first and most important initiative,” she said.
Looking ahead as the Cultural Olympiad comes to a close, Ms. Iliopoulou hinted at preparations for a brand new program of cultural events sponsored by the HCO: “At this stage, all I can say is that the main subject of our projects is to point out that Greek culture is not stagnant but is always evolving. And that the art and mind of contemporary Greek artists and scientists is very important and needs to be promoted as a vibrant part of Greek culture—a culture that is trying always to overcome, to exceed everyday life.”
Striving for Transatlantic Cooperation and Understanding
As tensions between the U.S and Europe have increased in recent years, The European Institute, with AHI member Maria Papathanassiou as part of the organization’s leadership, is actively involved in repairing and promoting the transatlantic relationship. The European Institute is the leading Washington-based public policy organization devoted to European-American affairs. It provides an independent forum for U.S. and European government and corporate decision makers, officials and multilateral organizations, foreign and economic policy analysts, and expert journalists to exchange information, develop innovative policy options, and create new professional working relationships.
The Institute’s mission is to facilitate information exchange among leaders and opinion makers from the U.S. and Europe, serving as an early warning system and facilitating conflict resolution. It promotes cooperation between the world’s most prosperous economies by maintaining a constructive dialogue among a powerful network of key individuals meeting informally.
In her multi-faceted role as the Institute’s senior vice president, Ms. Papathanassiou manages the office and the organization’s finances, oversees the development and organization of programs, and serves as the grant administrator. She plays a key role as liaison with the organization’s Board of Directors, Board of Advisors, and members. Adding to the many hats she wears, Ms. Papathanassiou is also the managing editor of the Institute’s quarterly review, European Affairs. She has been with the Institute since its inception, and has been instrumental in its organizational development.
Ms. Papathanassiou’s career path and work at the Institute has its roots in her Hellenic heritage. As a Greek child who came to the U.S. via Belgium, “I’ve wanted to learn more about my own culture and my own background. This created an interest in other cultures and other countries, and the realization that we are not alone in the world,” she noted. The international focus that her career has taken since its very start, and particularly her work at the Institute, perfectly captures and builds on these interests and goals.
Improving U.S.-European ties by increasing this understanding that we live in an increasingly interdependent world is a central building block of The European Institute. Ms. Papathanassiou admitted that the current state of the transatlantic partnership is troubled, in large part because of the war in Iraq. Indeed, there are areas for improvement on both sides. “From the point of view of The European Institute, what we see as the most important thing that Europeans and Americans can do is to really listen to each other…. learn to respect each other’s differences.”
Furthermore, Ms. Papathanassiou pointed out that the nature of the European-American relationship has fundamentally changed over the years. As the European Union continues to grow and develop, “[Europeans] want to be more of an equal partner with the U.S. and the U.S. needs to accept the fact that Europe cannot be dictated to.” Despite areas of discord, “Europe and the United States cooperate a lot more than we think, for example on Homeland Security issues and even in trade negotiations. After all, they are each other’s most important trade partner and until recently, most important ally.”
Continued cooperation and a positive relationship between the U.S. and Greece, specifically, can also be promoted at the individual level. To that end, Ms. Papathanassiou suggested that Greek Americans “really get involved in organizations like AHI and other Greek American organizations where their voice can be heard…. [Be it at] either at your local level, or your state level, or whatever level of political involvement you want to take—it’s important to stay aware and stay involved and stay connected with Greece.” And by staying connected, aware and knowledgeable about both elements of their cultural background, Greek Americans can position themselves as ideal ambassadors to either side because of their unique dual insight.
MARINA ANGEL, professor at Temple University’s School of Law, received the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia on August 8, 2004. This award is given by the ABA’s Commission on Women in the Profession to “recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women lawyers who have excelled in their field and have paved the way to success for other women lawyers.”
LAW: THE BASDEKIS WAY—AHI is pleased to announce that Advisory Board member Thanos Basdekis recently made partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Regan, Halperin & Long PLLC. Mr. Basdekis, who also serves as the President of AHI’s Northern Virginia Chapter, joined the firm in 1999 after graduating from Yale Law School and clerking for the Honorable Leonard B. Sand in the Southern District of New York. Regan, Halperin & Long specializes in medical malpractice and personal injury litigation, and Mr. Basdekis has along with his partners secured numerous multi-million dollar judgments during his tenure at the firm, including a recent $5 million verdict against the District of Columbia in a pool accident case. Mr. Basdekis currently serves as the Governor from the District of Columbia on the Association of Trial Lawyers of America’s National Board of Governors, NLD, and he has been an Adjunct Professor at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law since the fall of 2000.
The legal career of Vivian H. Basdekis, the former media relations director at AHI, is off to a stellar start as well. A first-year student at The George Washington University School of Law, Mrs. Basdekis and her partner, fellow Greek American law student Peter Bazos, emerged as the winners of the prestigious ADR Negotiation Competition entered by 236 of their classmates at the GWU School of Law. As such, Mrs. Basdekis and Mr. Bazos will represent their law school at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals Competition on November 14-16, 2004, and if successful, will continue to Nationals which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah later this year.
SOTIRIOS KOSPANOS, Office Manager at AHI, was interviewed by the Voice of America’s “New American Voices” program, hosted by Oksana Dragan. The focus of the program for the day was the Greek American community, with Mr. Kospanos providing his perspective on the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus, and the Greek American community.
DR. MIHAEL H. POLYMEROPOULOS on May 28, 2004 hosted a ceremony to celebrate the opening of Vanda Pharmaceuticals, located in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Polymeropoulos is the CEO of Vanda, which was founded in 2003 as a venture partnership between Care Capital and the Bio*One Capital of the Singapore Economic Development Board. For additional information on Vanda Pharmaceuticals, link to <www.vandapharma.com>.
ELENI ROSSIDES has been appointed the new Executive Director of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), where she will oversee the Foundation’s unique blend of tennis and educational programs to help change the lives of thousands of at-risk DC youths. Ms. Rossides, a former All-American tennis player who went on to join the women’s professional tennis circuit, stated that, “The chance to join the Foundation and help it to serve even more young people is a wonderful opportunity that allows me to pursue all of my personal passions: kids, tennis, DC and the power of education.”
TED SPYROPOULOS, President of the Hellenic American National Council and AHI Advisory Committee member, became the new publisher of The Greek Press in May 2004. The Greek Press is a monthly newspaper published in Chicago, with subscription information obtainable by contacting (312) 906-8888.
KYRIAKOS TSAKOPOULOS donated $1 million on June 21, 2004 to Columbia University, his alma mater, to endow the Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Chair as a tribute to his late grandfather and namesake. This generous endowment will fund a professor in the University’s Hellenic Studies Program in the Classics Department and will launch an annual lecture series on “Aristotle and the Moderns.”
ORESTES G. VARVITSIOTES has authored the recently-released publication, Ancient Greek Athletics: Myths, History and Culture. In his book, Mr. Varvitsiotes presents a dynamic description of the ideals and history of the ancient Olympic Games and the significance of athletics in ancient Greece. He clearly describes the complex and evolving relationship between athletics and government patterns, religion, poetry and art.
Ancient Greek Athletics is available to AHI members for $27.95, with $10 of proceeds from the sale of each book to be donated to AHI. To order your copy of this special book today, contact AHI Headquarters at (202) 785-8430, or Mr. Varvitsiotes by telephone/fax at (718) 859-4703, or by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Please note that a $1.50 shipping charge per book will by added to your order.
TASOS VATIKIOTIS joins Euclid Mortgage Services, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Euclid Financial Group as a director of the residential mortgage unit. “I believe in Euclid’s future, and I feel very confident working closely with Dr. Andrea Pericli,” said Mr. Vatikiotis.
Mr. Vatikiotis has also excelled in the sports world. After playing for a nationally ranked club team in his youth, he played for the nationally ranked Division 1 program at Loyola College of Baltimore. Mr. Vatikiotis then played professionally in Greece for Ethnikos Asteras, which at the time was in the “A” Division. He has played with and against some of the current players from the Euro 2004 Championship squad, and has gained tremendous experience from an athletic point of view.