American Hellenic Institute

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May 1, 2007— Volume 34, Number 235

GENERAL NEWS

AHI 32nd Annual Dinner Celebrates Distinguished Honorees

On March 10, 2007, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored a distinguished group of Greek Americans and philhellenes at its 32nd Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and the community at-large, this year’s honorees were:

  • Christopher Hitchens, renowned public affairs journalist
  • U.S. Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter, 11th Congressional District of Michigan
  • Margo Catsimatidis, president of MCV Advertising and co-publisher of The Hellenic Times
  • Plato Cacheris, nationally prominent attorney and partner at Trout Cacheris, LLP
  • John P. Calamos, Sr., chairman, CEO and CIO of Calamos Investment Funds

The master of ceremonies for the evening was Vicki Liviakis, who is an anchor and reporter for KRON Channel 4 News in San Francisco.

In his address to the audience, AHI President and Founder Gene Rossides recognized AHI founding member George Spyropoulos, who was instrumental in establishing the current AHI headquarters building—Hellenic House. Mr. Rossides also introduced a video clip of a new documentary on Cyprus on which the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is collaborating with Veras Communications to produce and air on PBS channels nationwide.

The Evening’s Honorees

The recipients of the Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards (L-R) John P. Calamos, Sr., Christopher Hitchens, Margo Catsimatidis and Plato Cacheris at the AHI Annual Dinner (Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter not pictured).

The first award recipient of the evening, Christopher Hitchens, was presented with the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his pursuit of the rule of law and justice for the people of Cyprus and Hellenism through his writings and speeches. In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Hitchens stated, “All we want is for the removal of every single Turkish soldier from Cyprus, as international law demands, the restoration of the sculpture of Phidias [the Parthenon Marbles] as a unity, the same way it was carved, as a tribute to the glories of 5th century Athens and the human culture that it has inspired.”

The second honoree, Congressman Thaddeus G. McCotter, also received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his commitment to public service and his support in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. AHI Advisory Committee member James Lagos delivered the following message from Congressman McCotter, who was unable to be present due to unforeseen circumstances:

“I will continue urging my colleagues in Congress to remain engaged in the effort for a just and lasting reunification of Cyprus, the promotion of the God-given, self-evident, and inalienable rights of all Cypriots to their property, free movement and free settlement.”

Following, Margo Catsimatidis received the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for her dedicated philanthropy and generous support of Hellenism, education, and the Greek American community. Mrs. Catsimatidis underscored that, “To fulfill life, one must always strive to make the world a better place. Be effective. Be practical. It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

(L-R) Tom Lagos, Congressman and Mrs. Zack Space, Jim Lagos and Tina Lagos.

Plato Cacheris was presented the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his unparalleled achievements and excellence in the legal profession. Upon receiving his award, he stated that, “I’m proud to be a first generation Greek American. Both my father and mother came from a little horio (village) called Nafplio in Greece.” He also thanked his wife for their many years together and her steadfast support.

Receiving the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements and pioneering investment strategies, and for his dedicated philanthropy and generous support of the Greek American community was John P. Calamos, Sr. In his acceptance speech Mr. Calamos stated:

“As I’ve gotten older here and I’ve become successful, as I look back, our Greek heritage is so important to us…. One of the things I’ve tried to do is really help the generations behind us remember our heritage. It’s so important.”

Guests were also treated to a special video tribute to Greek American veterans of World War II, featuring the secretGreek American Operational Groups (OGs) and presented by AHI Chairman James L. Marketos, Esq. The OGs were small contingents of uniformed Greek Americans who in 1944 secretly battled the Nazis behind enemy lines in Greece. The video requires additional funding to be produced into a full-length documentary. Mr. Marketos also delivered a public declaration expressing gratitude for the sacrifice and dedication of all Greek Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II.

Throughout the weekend, AHI also hosted several other events to celebrate the honorees’ accomplishments and to promote Hellenism. These included:

(L-R) Ambassador Andreas Kakouris, Nick Larigakis and Ambassador Alexandros Mallias at the AHI Breakfast and Presentation.

Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI

The weekend’s events were kicked off with an elegant dinner at the Greek Embassy on Friday, March 9, 2007, hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias in honor of AHI for its significant contributions to strengthening ties between Greece and the U.S. This event was a tremendous success, attended by the maximum possible number of guests—100 persons. 

Breakfast Briefing by Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus

On the morning of March 10, 2007, AHI hosted a breakfast briefing at the Capital Hilton featuring Ambassador of Greece Alexandros Mallias and Ambassador of Cyprus Andreas Kakouris. Both ambassadors provided the audience with an update on the most recent events related to U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.

American-Owned Property in Cyprus Claims Act Reintroduced

On February 27, 2007, Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) reintroduced the “American-Owned Property In Occupied Cyprus Claims Act,”Senate Bill S. 695. Joining Senator Snowe as an original co-sponsor is Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The companion House bill, H.R. 1456, was reintroduced on March 9, 2007 by Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ).

Since the 1974 invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus, the property of Greek Cypriots and American nationals in northern occupied Cyprus was illegally taken, occupied and used by Turkish authorities and individuals. 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.

AHI Welcomes Newly-Elected Greek American Congressmen

(L-R) AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI President Gene Rossides, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressman Gus Bilirakis, Congressman Zack Space and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

Newly elected Greek American members of U.S. Congress Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Zack Space (D-OH) were welcomed to office by AHI at a dinner held in their honor

on January 17, 2007 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The Congressmen addressed the audience to provide an overview of some of their goals while in office.

In his remarks to guests, Congressman Bilirakis stated, “We have an obligation to protect our community, our Greek community here in the United States, and protect our Ellada (Greece) and our Kypro (Cyprus).”

Congressman Sarbanes told the audience that “We have to embrace everyone in our community. We have so much to offer. And that’s why I’m so proud to represent this community.”

Finally, Congressman Space remarked that, “I will be a very strong advocate for the Greek Americans and for the Greeks in general when it comes to those issues… I’m looking forward to working with Gus (Bilirakis) and with John (Sarbanes) as we approach those issues head on.”

Over 120 persons attended the dinner to welcome the congressmen to their new posts. 

New Greek American Congressmen Join Hellenic Caucus

On December 12, 2007, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) announced freshman Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ (R-FL) appointment as the new Republican co-chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus.

Responding to the news, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis stated, “We congratulate Representative Gus Bilirakis on being named the co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus and we look forward to working with him and Representative Carolyn B. Maloney in the 110th Congress on issues regarding U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.”

Greek Americans also joining the Hellenic Caucus in the new Congressional term are freshman Congressmen Zack Space (D-OH) and John Sarbanes (D-MD).

AHI and AHEPA Host Successful Hellenic American Career Fair

USA Today’s Christine Brennan.

High school and college age youth of the greater Washington Metropolitan area participated in the Hellenic American Career Fair held on January 6, 2007 at the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia. The event was sponsored by the Order of AHEPA Peter N. Derzis Chapter 438 in cooperation with AHI and featured some of the area’s most prominent Hellenic and philhellenic business leaders, corporate representatives and professionals who came together to provide the area’s youth with vital career insights and information. 

The program included career coaching from professional recruiters, and 22 corporations and professionals with booths at the career fair. The program also offered a series of seminars in the following areas:

Gene Rossides.

Law—Gene Rossides, AHI President

Journalism—Christine Brennan, sports journalist for USA TODAY

Diplomatic Service—L. Gabrielle Cowan, senior Greece Desk officer at the U.S. State Department

Real Estate/Mortgage—Andreas Pericli, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Euclid Mortgage Services, LLC

Advertising/Marketing/Public Relations—John Alahouzos, vice president of Market Development Group, Inc.

Medicine—Dr. Constantine Nonas, Surgeon

Hospitality/Tourism—Brian Kelleher, general manager of the Capital Hilton Hotel

Accounting—Tina Ligelis, CPA

Education—Tori Carr, educator at Fairfax County Public Schools

Mr. Rossides gave the event’s keynote address on the importance of supporting Hellenic youth as a means of strengthening the Greek American community and preserving our heritage. Chapter 438 President Jim Stoucker served as master of ceremonies.

AHI Meets with International Religious Freedom Commission

On January 25, 2007, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis was invited to meet with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) regarding his eye-witness account of the mistreatment of American citizens and Greek Orthodox Christians of Turkey by that country’s officials during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Istanbul to meet with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The invitation from the USCIRF stemmed from Mr. Larigakis’ letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of December 18, 2006, whereby he addressed this issue.

Joining Mr. Larigakis via conference call to provide supporting testimony was journalist Harry Moskos, who was reporting from Istanbul during the time of the Pope’s visit.

“I very much welcomed the opportunity to present my observations before this esteemed group regarding the mistreatment that we received as Americans and to also further highlight the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the problems he faces in Turkey today,” said Mr. Larigakis. He also urged the USCIRF to recommend that Turkey be designated a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

AHI Hosts Greek Independence Day Event on Capitol Hill

(L-R) AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHI President Gene Rossides, Minister George Alogoskoufis, Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias.

On March 28, 2007, AHI hosted its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 186th anniversary of Greek Independence and the common democratic ideals held by Greece and the United States. The event was held in cooperation with the Congressional Hellenic Caucus’s co-sponsors, Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The event, which attracted over 200 people, began with the Greek and American national anthems, performed by the children of the Greek School of St. Katherine in Falls Church, Virginia. The special guest speaker was George Alogoskoufis, Greece’s Minister of Economy and Finance.

Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance): Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Joe Wilson (D-SC), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Zack Space (D-OH), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA).

Each of the speakers emphasized their admiration for the Hellenic culture and for the valiant and inspiring struggle for Greek Independence, achieved nearly 200 years ago. They also expressed their wish for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue.

2007 Greek American Policy Statements Released

AHI President Gene Rossides issued the 2007 Greek American Policy Statements on April 18, 2007. The Policy Statements were prepared by AHI and endorsed by the following Greek American membership organizations: Hellenic American National Council (HANC), Cyprus Federation of America, Pan-Macedonian Association of America, Panepirotic Federation of America, PanCretan Association of America, Pan-Pontian Federation of U.S.A. and Canada, American Hellenic Council of California, and Chios Societies of America, Inc.

The issues addressed by the Policy Statements include:

  • Greece:
    – Aegean Sea Boundary
    – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
    – Albania
    – Visa Waiver Program
  • Cyprus:
    – Invite President Tassos Papadopoulos for a State Visit
    – Turkey’s New Threat to Peace
  • Ecumenical Patriarchate and Halki Theological School
  • Critical Review of U.S. Policy Toward Turkey Needed
  • Compensation to Turkey’s Victims

AHI distributed the Policy Statements to approximately 20 high ranking U.S. government officials, including President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Overall, the Policy Statements highlight the significant changes taking place in the political, security and economic landscape of southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. They stress the strategic importance of Greece and Cyprus as regional partners of the U.S. As vigorous, prosperous and stable democracies, these countries are a source of regional leadership and they offer the U.S. an opportunity to advance its national interests in the region.

Under Secretary Replies to Harassment at Patriarchate

On April 27, 2007, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis received a letter from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns regarding the December 18, 2006 letter he sent to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice regarding the mistreatment of American citizens by Turkish officials during the meeting of Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in late November. Mr. Larigakis was in Istanbul as part of the Archon pilgrimage on the occasion of the historic visit between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew.

In Under Secretary Burns’ response, he expressed regret for the difficulties experienced by the Archons. He pointed out that U.S. Consular staff took immediate measures to help resolve any further difficulties as they arose.

Under Secretary Burns also reiterated U.S. support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s rights, pointing out that American authorities continue to urge Turkey to allow the Patriarchate to operate freely, and encourage measures such as reopening the Halki Theological Seminary and protecting its property rights.

AHI IN THE NEWS

Between January 1 and May 1 of 2007, AHI submitted one letter to the editor to respond to inaccuracies in U.S. media reports, while Gene Rossides also had five op-eds published in a number of Greek American publications.

Letters to the Editor

February 28, 2007

The Washington Times published Nick Larigakis’ letter to the editor, titled “Remember the Armenians,” in response to the paper’s editorial “Pelosi’s pandering against Turkey” (February 20). Mr. Larigakis points out numerous inaccuracies in the newspaper’s editorial. He asserts that “U.S. interests can best be served by achieving the goals of genuine democratic freedoms, political stability and economic progress in Turkey. It would be good for Turkey; good for Turkey’s neighbors; and good for U.S. interests.”

Op-Eds

AHI op-eds were published on the following dates in a number of Greek American news media outlets:

January 22, 2007

In his January 22 op-ed “Has the New York Times editorial board lost its way?” Gene Rossides took sharp issue with the New York Times’ editorial of December 30, 2006, titled “Obstacles in Turkey’s Path.” He characterized the editorial as “a flagrantly biased, pro-Turkish, anti-Greek Cypriot and anti-rule of law editorial,” examining in detail the daily’s assertions and omissions. The op-ed was sent to The National HeraldThe Hellenic Voice and The New York Times’ editorial board for their consideration to publish in an upcoming issue. The first two publications published AHI’s submission.

February 7, 2007

Gene Rossides’ op-ed appearing in TheNational Herald and Greek News criticized and analyzed Turkey’s opposition to agreements between the governments of Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt for joint exploration of oil and natural gas in an area 125 miles wide between Cyprus and the Mediterranean’s southern coast. Turkey, asserting that it has rights in the area, has threatened to block exploration.

March 14, 2007

In his op-ed for TheHellenic Voice “Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, a great Senate leader,” Gene Rossides paid tribute to this public servant who played a leading role in Greek American history. Eagleton passed away on March 4, 2007 in Richmond Heights, Missouri at the age of 77. The op-ed overviewed the sequence of events in 1974 when key leaders in the Greek American community secured Eagleton’s support to lead the effort in the U.S. Senate for a rule of law embargo on arms to Turkey.

March-May 2007

The AHI op-ed “State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices in Cyprus Deeply Flawed” responds to and highlights errors in the agency’s annual worldwide Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006, which were released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on March 6, 2007. The op-ed ran inGreek News (March 26), The National Herald (March 31), The Hellenic Voice (April 11) and Hellenic News of America (May 2007).

April-May 2007

Gene Rossides’ op-ed “Support H.Res.106 and S.Res.106 Recognizing the Armenian Genocide” points out that, “If you want to support the rule of law in international affairs; if you want the U.S. Congress officially to recognize the Armenian Genocide, the first holocaust in the 20th century; if you want to publicize genocides so as to help stop current genocides and help prevent future genocides, then support H. Res. 106 and S. Res. 106, the bipartisan resolutions in the House and Senate which recognize the Armenian Genocide.” The AHI op-ed appeared in The National Herald (April 14), Greek News (April 16), The Hellenic Voice (April 25) and Hellenic News of America (May 2007).

BRIEFINGS & NOON FORUMS

Energy in Southeast Europe

Dr. Achilles Adamantiades.

On February 20, 2007, AHI hosted a Noon Forum on “Energy in South-East Europe,” presented by Dr. Achilles Adamantiades, who is an expert consultant focusing on energy and the environment. In his presentation, Dr. Adamantiades highlighted points on energy, environment, economics and politics in Southeast Europe. He also spoke of resource endowment, energy networks and the road ahead for the region.

Forum Features New Book on Cyprus

Dr. Van Coufoudakis.

On February 22, 2007, AHI hosted a Noon Forum featuring Professor Van Coufoudakis, who presented his new book Cyprus: A Contemporary Problem in Historical Perspective. Cou foudakis is rector emeritus at Intercollege in Nicosia, Cyprus and dean emeritus of the School of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University.

De-Balkanizing the Balkans: Greece’s Role

On March 15, 2007, AHI hosted a Noon Forum on “Debalkanizing the Balkans: Is There a Role for Greece?” presented by Professor Theodore Couloumbis, senior visiting scholar for the Onassis Foundation (USA) and a policy scholar with the Southeast Europe Project of the Woodrow Wilson Center. One of the main conclusions drawn by Couloumbis and presented in the forum was that “we can cautiously conclude, therefore, that the gap separating the Balkans from the EU—as in the cases of Greece and Slovenia—will be gradually closing.”

Greece: The Post-Olympics Era

Secretary General Panos Livadas (center) presents a gift to AHI President Gene Rossides (right) and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis (left).

On April 20, 2007, AHI hosted a Noon Forum on “Greece: The Post-Olympics Era” presented by Greek Secretary General of Information Panos Livadas. Livadas provided an overview of progress made in Greece since the Olympics in the areas of the national economy, the shipping and maritime industry, as a financial and business center in the Balkans, in tourism, and in the banking sector. Furthermore, Livadas also highlighted the shift in Greek foreign policy, with the country becoming a more global player, and progress made in combating domestic terrorism with the eradication of the domestic terrorist group November 17.

 

STATEMENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS

AHI Condemns Attack on U.S. Embassy in Athens

On January 16, 2007, AHI issued a statement strongly condemning the attack upon the U.S. Embassy in Athens on January 12, 2007:

“There is no room for tolerance regarding these cowardly acts. The handful of terrorists in any society will never be able to compromise the beliefs of those societies that have as their guiding principles democratic values and the rule of law,” said AHI President Gene Rossides.

“We express our heartfelt support to the people of Greece and the Greek law enforcement authorities in their pursuit of bringing these criminals to justice. I am confident that this incident will not result in any negative fall-out in the current excellent U.S.-Greece relations,” continued Rossides.

ACTION ALERTS

March 14, 2007

On March 9, 2007, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) reintroduced bipartisan legislation: “The American-Owned Property in Cyprus Claims Act, H.R. 1456.” 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. A companion bill had also been introduced in the Senate as Senate Bill S. 695 by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and co-sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

AHI members and friends were asked to contact their representatives in the House and Senate to co-sponsor the legislation.

May 3, 2007

AHI members and friends were asked to contact their representative in the House and urge them to co-sponsor H.Res.356 regarding the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The legislation was introduced by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on May 1, and it urges FYROM to stop utilizing materials that violate provisions of the UN-brokered Interim Agreement between FYROM and Greece regarding “hostile activities or propaganda.” These hostile acts include renaming of the airport in the country’s capital to “Alexander the Great” and teaching students in state-run schools that parts of Greece, including Greek Macedonia, are rightfully part of FYROM. FYROM must work with the UN and Greece to achieve longstanding U.S. and UN policy goals and find a mutually-acceptable official name.

May 4, 2007

On May 3, 2007, Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced H.Res.373 which urges Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The legislation is in response to Turkey’s continued refusal to recognize the Patriarchate as “Ecumenical” Patriarchate, the spiritual leader of over 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide. Turkey closed the Halki Seminary School in 1971, thus crippling its ability to train clergy. Through the years, Turkey has illegally seized property owned and operated by the Patriarchate.

This legislation urges Turkey to grant the Ecumenical Patriarchate appropriate international recognition, rights to train clergy of all nationalities, and respect human rights and property rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. AHI urged members and friends to contact their representative to cosponsor and support H.Res.373.

 

AHI BUSINESS NETWORK AT WORK

 

BUSINESS NETWORK EVENTS

Expert Financial Advice for 2007 Offered at AHI Seminar

The AHI Business Network hosted a seminar and luncheon on “The U.S. Economy in 2007: Where Are the Investment Opportunities?” in cooperation with Euclid Financial Group, Inc. on February 1, 2007 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. The seminar, which was attended by more than 60 professionals, featured expert panelists from the financial industry who covered a range of topics and offered advice on investment opportunities in the year ahead.

Topics and speakers for the seminar included:

  • “The Market Outlook for 2007”—John G. Krimigis, second vice president and wealth management financial planning specialist, Citigroup Smith Barney
  • “Economic and Housing Outlook”—Andreas Pericli, Ph.D., chairman, CEO and CIO of Euclid Financial Group, Inc.
  • “Cyclical Investing and Sector Rotation and Investment Opportunities in Equities (Stocks) for the Year Ahead”—Andreas Christofi, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Economics and Finance at Monmouth University

The luncheon speaker was Steven Abrahams, senior managing director and head of Global Liquid Product Strategies at Bear Stearns, who discussed “The Global Market for U.S. Debt.” The moderator for the seminar portion of the event was James L. Marketos, who is AHI chairman and attorney at the law firm of Berliner, Corcoran and Rowe, LLP, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis provided welcome and closing remarks.

Breakfast Seminar Highlights New Investment Opportunities in Greece

(L-R) Zacharias Kesses, Alex Laios, Nassos Nikolopoulos and Alexandros I. Papasteriopoulos.

On March 30, 2007, the AHI Business Network, in cooperation with the Embassy of Greece and sponsored by PAKLaw Firm (Athens, Greece), presented a breakfast seminar on “New Investment Opportunities in Greece: Alternative Sources of Energy and Real Estate” at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The seminar, which approximately 100 persons attended, began with opening remarks by AHI Executive DirectorNick Larigakis and was moderated by AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas. Greek Ambassador to the U.S.Alexandros Mallias welcomed the guests and gave remarks on investment opportunities in Greece and Southeast Europe.

The keynote speaker was Alexandros I. Papasteriopoulos, LL.B., LL.M, director of PAKLaw, in Athens, Greece. The panel speakers included: Nassos Nikolopoulos, LL.B., LL.M., speaking on “The New Framework of Energy Investments in Greece”; Alex Laios, B.A., J.D., LL.M., presenting on “Step by Step Real Estate Transactions”; andZacharias Kesses, LL.B., speaking on “Tourism Investments in Greece.” Presentations from the event are available on AHI’s Web site at<http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/032907.html>.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHTS

An Ambassador for Hellenism at Home and Abroad

Manny Velivasakis.

When looking at Emmanuel Velivasakis’ long and admirable list of professional and volunteer achievements and involvements, the Greek word arete—or excellence—comes to mind. As a licensed structural engineer and a managing principal of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group, an internationally acclaimed architectural-engineering firm, Velivasakis’ expertise has been sought in projects spanning the globe.

He has been called on to evaluate and restore the U.S. Capitol Dome in Washington, D.C., and the design of mega-structures such as the world’s two tallest buildings—the Petronas Twin-Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Taipei Financial Center in Taipei, Taiwan. He has also conducted emergency response work at the ruins of the 1999 earthquake in Istanbul, Turkey and at the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster site after the September 11 terrorist attack.

Born and raised in Crete, Velivasakis immigrated to the U.S. to pursue undergraduate and graduate studies in civil engineering at the City College of New York, graduating with high honors. But he never forgot his roots, and has worked since his early college days with various Cretan American organizations on a local and national level. It is thus through his professional and volunteer achievements, always wearing his Greek and Cretan identity on his sleeve, that Velivasakis is an ambassador for Hellenism both at home and abroad.

Velivasakis’ most fulfilling professional achievement was his post-9/11 work at the WTC. “My firm and I had the overall command of Ground Zero for safety and structural engineering. We made sure that the work done by thousands of volunteers digging into the debris of the WTC buildings was done safely and without any accidents,” describes Velivasakis. He further notes that, “The Ground Zero involvement was not a project, but rather a mission.”

And in a volunteer capacity, he dedicates a significant portion of his free time to service as the national president of the Pan-Cretan Association (PAA) and the newly-elected president of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), working in close cooperation with the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).

As HANC president, Velivasakis says, “My immediate objective has been since the beginning to calibrate and coordinate HANC to be in synch with SAE. After all, both SAE and HANC serve basically the same constituency!” He has identified three of the community’s most pressing issues.

First, Velivasakis advocates a focus on paideia (education/learning), working to improve Hellenic language schools in the U.S. and promoting charter schools as one possible solution. Second, the Greek community abroad must focus and coordinate its lobbying efforts on the “national issues” related to Greece and Cyprus rather than remain a splintered group.

Finally, Velivasakis asserts that “We must focus on our youth and especially on the young adults. We must find ways to entice our young adults to be involved.” In this area, he hints at a new major initiative to be launched under the auspices of HANC that will focus on networking for young professionals in the community.

The PAA has already been successful on many of these fronts, albeit on a smaller scale. Velivasakis’ experience piloting the PAA’s programs will prove invaluable in engineering a much broader effort to preserve and promote Hellenism in the U.S. After all, “We are the ambassadors of our motherland in this great country. If our fellow citizens are in the dark about the Greek or the Cretan civilization, we have no one but ourselves to blame,” Velivasakis concludes.

Creating Beautiful Smiles

Ana Triliouris.

Dr. Ana M. Triliouris, DDS, has been practicing dentistry for the last 30 years. As the head of her own practice—the Dental Laser Care Center in Merrick, New York—she constantly strives to provide her patients with the best dental care through the latest in technological advances.

“All through the years I’ve been creating beautiful smiles…
and I do it with the latest technological advancements. We are always state of the art and on the leading edge of technology for everything we do,” says Triliouris.

Triliouris, who takes pride in putting caring into dental care and removing the fear factor for patients, incorporated lasers into her practice when they were first approved for dental treatment in 1991. She ensures that her practice secures the latest technological advancements to provide top dental care.

The use of lasers significantly diminishes the need for drilling and for using anesthesia on patients to conduct a wide range of procedures, including treatment of both soft tissues (gums) and hard tissues (teeth and bones) of the mouth.

Triliouris is an active member of a number of professional associations, including the American Dental Association, the Dental Society of the State of New York, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Association of Women Dentist. She is a founder of the Academy of Laser Dentistry, where she is an Executive Board Member, and is a member of both the Hellenic American Dental Association and the Hellenic American Medical Association. She was also involved in the Greek Children’s Cancer Fund with the Sloan Kettering Center.

Fluent in Greek, following the Greek Orthodox faith, and with children who are fluent in both Greek and Spanish, it is a pleasant surprise to find out that Triliouris is not Greek by ancestry but rather through personal will and marriage.

Triliouris was born and raised in Argentina to Spanish parents from Galicia in northern Spain. “I had a very strong European influence,” points out Triliouris. “I believe that Italy, Spain, Greece—they have a very Mediterranean spirit that is very similar.”

It was perhaps this similarity in cultures that helped to forge a strong bond between her and her husband—who was born and raised in Sparta, Greece—when she first met him at the young age of 20. Triliouris and her husband now have two children—one 29-year old daughter and one 22-year old son. But from the early part of their marriage, Triliouris points out that, “It was very important for me to learn the [Greek] traditions and teach my children where they come from…. So I took it upon myself to teach them about the Greek traditions as much as I taught them about my Spanish background.”

And she has succeeded formidably in this endeavor. Both daughter and son feel very comfortable in both cultures, are proud of both their ancestries, speak both Greek and Spanish very well, and can read and write in both languages. According to Triliouris, “It was tough, but it was fun at the same time because it wasn’t forced on me. Nobody asked me to do it. I just wanted to do it.”

Triliouris and her husband are also active in supporting issues important to the Greek American community as they participate in lobbying and awareness efforts. “We have our eyes open. My husband and I work on this together very closely,” she notes.

So while she literally creates beautiful smiles at the office, Triliouris’ commitment to promoting and preserving her own Spanish heritage and the Greek heritage is something that deserves not just a smile, but a standing ovation.

MEMBER NEWS

Takey Crist, a Jacksonville, North Carolina obstetrician/gynecologist, was one of five people honored in April 2007 by the UNC School of Medicine and Medical Alumni Association and one of three physicians who received the Distinguished Service Award this year. The purpose of the award is to honor alumni and other individuals who have significantly enhanced the prestige and reputation of the medical school and university through various professional, service and leadership accomplishments.

Ted G. Spyropoulos, AHI Advisory Committee member, was elected to be the U.S. Regional Coordinator for the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE). His election, along with the election of ten other members of SAE’s U.S. Regional Coordinating Council, took place during the First Regional Convention (U.S. Region) in New York, NY on November 3-5, 2006. Mr. Spyropoulos started his official duties on January 1, 2007 when he stepped down as President of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC).

Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalaki  was appointed a new board member of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, effective January 2007. She will serve an initial two-year term on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The Sacramento Region Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1983 to help people connect with the causes they care about.