November 1, 2008— Volume 35, Number 238
AHI Hosts Fourth Annual Athens Awards Dinner
On June 11, 2008, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted the Fourth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens, Greece. The event, which has become a focal point of AHI’s annual delegation trip to Greece and Cyprus, honored world-renowned composer Vangelis with an AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his “exceptional artistic achievements” as a pioneer in electronic music and for his lifelong dedication to the promotion of Hellenism through the arts. Kitty Kyriacopoulos, honorary chairman of S&B Industrial Minerals S.A., was also honored that evening for her outstanding business achievements, her philanthropy, and for her promotion of Hellenism. Mrs. Kyriacopoulos received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award.
The gala dinner, which was held in cooperation with the AHI-Athens Chapter, began with welcome remarks from the chapter’s president Ilias Malevitis. Greetings were also delivered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Kassimis, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Greece Thomas V. Countryman, Greek Minister of Development Christos Folias, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) U.S.A. Coordinator and Alternate President Theodore Spyropoulos, and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. Serving as the master of ceremonies for the evening was Rena Leousis, and the dinner organizing committee consisted of Ilias Malevitis, George Economou, Katerina Papathanassiou, Lia Kanari, Margarita Karli, and Nick Larigakis. The evening concluded with an enchanting musical interlude performed by Theodosia Stiga.
John Negroponte Meets with AHI
On September 4, 2008, key members of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte at his office at the State Department. The one-hour meeting, which was attended by AHI President and founder Gene Rossides, General Counsel Nicholas G. Karambelas, and Executive Director Nick Larigakis, covered all issues within AHI’s policy agenda, with a major focus on the ongoing Cyprus issue. In his capacity as Deputy Secretary of State, Mr. Negroponte is the number two ranking official in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy and functions as the chief operating officer of the State Department.
AHI specifically urged a number of actions that the U.S. government pressure Turkey to follow through on, including the immediate removal of all Turkish troops from Cyprus, the prompt return to Turkey of the over 160,000 illegal Turkish settlers in Cyprus, the Turkish government’s safeguarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, reopening the Halki Patriarchal School of Theology, and returning church properties illegally seized. AHI also advocated for the United States’ support for Greece on the FYROM name issue, the recognition of the maritime boundary in the Aegean Sea as established by international treaties, and support to stop the violations by Turkey against Greece’s territorial integrity in the Aegean Sea and Greek airspace.
AHI Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus
From June 3-12, 2008, a delegation from the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) participated in the organization’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus to hold substantive talks with government officials and business leaders in both countries.
In Cyprus, the delegation consisted of AHI Advisory Committee member Kostas Alexakis, long-time AHI members Gus Andy, Dr. James Balodimas, Dr. Takey Crist and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. In Athens, the AHI delegation included Messrs. Alexakis, Andy, and Larigakis. They were joined by AHI member Steve Veletsis and AHI President and founder Gene Rossides.
AHI’s delegation visited Nicosia from June 3-6. Over the course of the next four days, the delegation’s discussions focused largely on the unresolved Cyprus issue and on exchanging dialogue with government and community leaders in the country. Meetings were held with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Chairman of Cyprus’ House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Averof Neophytou, Advisor to the Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Charalambos Achniotis, Ambassador Euripides Evriviades, Director of Press and Information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Androula Lanitis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Americas Department Political Division Head Nafsika Kroutsi, former Consul General of Cyprus in New York Martha Mavromatis, Director of the Cyprus Press and Information Office Yiannakis Solomou, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher, leader of the Democratic Rally (DISY) party Nicos Anastasiades, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, former Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Deputy Mayor of Nicosia Stelios Ieronymides, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides, and President of the Cyprus House of Representatives Marios Garoyian.
The delegation continued on to Athens for a series of meetings during the week of June 9, beginning at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over the course of two days while visiting the ministry, AHI’s delegation met with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Theodoros Kassimis, Director of the A2 Cyprus Directorate Dimitris Giannakakis, Director of the A7 Directorate for North America Grigorios Vassilokonstantakis, Director of the A3 Directorate for Southeastern Europe Countries Eleftherios Aggelopoulos, and Director of the A4 Directorate for Relations with Turkey Georgios Kaklikis. Activities on June 10 also included a lunch hosted by the A7 Directorate in honor of AHI.
Also on June 10, AHI leaders met with U.S. Ambassador Speckhard at his residence for a two-hour meeting. That evening also featured the Fourth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner, honoring world-renowned composer Vangelis and Honorary Chairman of S&B Industrial Minerals S.A. Kitty Kyriakopoulos.
The delegation rounded out its trip to Greece and Cyprus on June 12 in meetings with Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food Kostas Kiltidis, President of Hellenic Parliament Demetris Sioufas, Chairman of the Hellenic Parliament’s Committee for Greeks Abroad Nick Tsartsionis and Minister of Culture Michalis Liapis.
Ioannides Appointed AHIF Fellow
On May 14, 2008, the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) announced Dr. Christos P. Ioannides’ appointment as AHIF Fellow of Greek American and Cyprus Studies. Dr. Ioannides is director of the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. Professor Ioannides received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, specializing in Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Affairs.
Professor Charles Moskos: 1934–2008
After a valiant struggle with cancer, Charles Constantine Moskos, AHIF senior fellow in Greek American studies, died peacefully in his sleep on May 31, 2008 at the age of 74 at his home in Santa Monica, California.
On behalf of all our members and staff, we extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his wife Ilca, his children and family. Charles Constantine Moskos will be greatly missed. May his memory be eternal.
AHI Draws Attention to Ongoing Restrictions in Turkey
In its latest effort to raise awareness about Turkey’s continuing restrictions of religious freedom against the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as Turkey’s ongoing destruction of religious heritage in the occupied area of Cyprus, AHI attended a July 8, 2008 forum on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Congressional Human Rights Caucus Task Force on International Religious Freedom. The forum was titled “Religious Freedom in Turkey: With a New Government in Power, Has Anything Changed for Religious Believers?”
During the question and answer segment, AHI’s Nick Larigakis spoke about Turkey’s unlawful treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in violation of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. Similarly, in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, more than 500 Orthodox Churches have been looted, desecrated and in some cases converted to hotels, casinos, stables, mosques and military facilities.
“If Turkey continues on its current path as it relates to the Patriarchate, it is a mathematical certainty that this Holy See will become extinct,” Mr. Larigakis told the audience of about 50 Congressional staffers and advocates.
AHI Supports AHEPAcademy
For the second year in a row, AHI worked with AHEPAcademy to coordinate a day-long program on June 24, 2008 that introduced 15 participating Greek American high school students to Washington’s diplomatic and policymaking world. The day’s activities included a briefing at the Greek Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, and a briefing at the Cyprus Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Andreas Kakouris. The students also attended a dinner at the Capital Hilton later that evening where Congressmen Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) and Zack Space (D-OH) addressed the group.
Sponsored by the Order of AHEPA, AHEPAcademy is a program for Greek American high school students from around the country to participate in an intensive, academic and interactive program that takes place on the campus of George Mason University outside of Washington.
AHI Hosts Forum on Cyprus
On July 16, 2008, AHI hosted a timely forum in Washington titled “Cyprus 34 Years Later: What Is Needed for a Solution?” featuring foreign policy experts from prominent area think tanks and the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Andreas Kakouris. Former U.S. Representative and President Emeritus of New York University Dr. John Brademas moderated the panel discussion.
The panel featured Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for foreign policy and defense studies at the CATO Institute; Doug Bandow, Robert A. Taft fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance; and Gene Rossides, founder and president of AHI.
U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Zack Space (D-OH) also offered their remarks during the forum, both calling for the removal of Turkish troops and settlers, and commending AHI for its contributions to help keep the issue at the forefront in Washington.
Excerpts of the speakers’ remarks can be found at: <http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/072308.html>.
AHI Honors Congressman Space
On July 16, 2008, AHI presented U.S. Congressman Zack Space (D-OH) with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award in recognition of his outstanding commitment to public service and his work in strengthening U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. The award was presented to the congressman following remarks he delivered at AHI’s public policy forum “Cyprus 34 Years Later: What Is Needed for a Solution?”
Congressman Space accepted the award on behalf of his grandfather, a Greek immigrant who realized the American Dream through a hard work ethic, and who continues to serve as an inspiration to him.
AHI Event Commemorates 1922 Smyrna Catastrophe
On September 24, 2008, AHI hosted a Capitol Hill event in cooperation with Greek America Magazine and its publisher Greg Pappas to commemorate the Smyrna catastrophe of 1922. The event featured guest speaker Giles Milton, author of the book Paradise Lost, Smyrna 1922, which revolves around the tragic ethnic cleansing of the Greek and Armenian populations in Smyrna in 1922, and the culminating events leading to the destruction of the city—what Mr. Milton has called “one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the twentieth century.” Mr. Milton is a journalist and New York Times best-selling author.
At the event, greetings were offered by the co-chairs of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Congresswoman Carolyn Malone (D-NY). AHI’s Executive Director Nick Larigakis moderated the event.
AHI Welcomes New Staff
In September 2008, AHI proudly welcomed two new staff members: Vasilios Kotsatos and C. Franciscos Economides. Mr. Kotsatos took the position of administrative assistant. He graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, focusing on world economy and business, and also obtaining a minor in business administration.
Mr. Economides became the new director of media relations for AHI. An alumnus of American University in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public communications and a minor in Spanish. Before joining AHI, his professional experience included working at a television program based in Israel called “Roots and Reflections” and at a law firm in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Mr. Economides interned for Senator George Allen.
AHI Hosts 5th Annual Golf Tournament
On October 17, 2008, AHI hosted its Fifth Annual Benefit Golf Tournament at the Greendale Golf Course in Alexandria, Virginia. The winning team in the scramble format competition consisted of Patrick Bransford, Ray Vanags, Barry Hargreaves and Jamie Dilla. The longest drive went to Thomas Pellicane and the closest to the pin went to Nan Piao.
Lending her support by coming out and participating again in this year’s golf tournament as the “celebrity golfer” was Christine Brennan, USA Today Sports Columnist. This is Christine Brennan’s third appearance at the AHI golf tournament.
“We are pleased that our tournament continuous to grow each year,” said AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “We are especially thankful to our celebrity golfer Christine Brennan, who took the time to join us again for this year’s event. Her presence added greatly to the success of the event.”
In recent months, AHI submitted two rebuttals to inaccurate coverage in The Washington Times. Both items, including one commentary piece and one letter to the editor, were published in the newspaper’s editorial pages. Additionally, eight op-eds written by Gene Rossides were published in a number of Greek American publications (see “Letters to the Editor” and “Op-Eds” sections below for additional details).
Also, in a July 20, 2008 story appearing in the Newark Star Ledger, AHI’s Nick Larigakis praised Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for urging that Greece’s neighboring country be known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) instead of the “Republic of Macedonia.”
Senator Menendez has been “acting in the best interests of the United States to help create stability in a region where Greece is an important player,” Mr. Larigakis told the newspaper. “The issue is not just the name. It’s what the name implies and how that will be interpreted, which Greece sees as an attempt to claim its territory.”
For complete versions of the referenced items in “AHI in the News,” please visit AHI’s web site at <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/>.
Letters to the Editor
May 21, 2008
The Washington Times published the AHI commentary article “Greece is no bully” by Nick Larigakis, which responded to the newspaper’s column about the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) titled “A name to reckon with.” In his commentary, Mr. Larigakis disputes the newspaper’s assertion that FYROM is a small, innocent country being bullied by Greece regarding the name issue by presenting a series of historical facts that outline FYROM’s misappropriation of the name and cultural identity of Macedonia as its own.
August 3, 2008
Nick Larigakis’ letter to the editor, titled “Turkey’s role in Cyprus,” appeared in the August 3 edition of The Washington Times in response to Bruce Fein’s Commentary piece of July 22, titled “Needing an excuse for success.” Mr. Fein’s commentary portrays the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state as the victim in the unresolved Cyprus issue, advocating that the U.S. lift the ongoing embargo on the northern part of the island. According to Mr. Larigakis, “Such a move would be tantamount to the United States legitimizing Turkey’s illegal invasion of Cyprus 34 years ago.” AHI’s executive director outlined Turkey’s numerous violations of international law with respect to Cyprus.
“British and U.S. Responsibility for Turkey’s Aggression in Cyprus”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in Greek News (May 26), The Hellenic Voice (May 28), The National Herald (May 31) and in the Hellenic News of America.
“McCain, Obama & Turkey’s Lobbyists”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in The National Herald (June 21), Greek News (June 23), and in The Greek Star (May 28).
“Obama—McCain and a State Department Shakeup”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in The National Herald, The Hellenic Voice, Greek News, and in Hellenic News of America during July 2008.
“Obama—Sudan, Zimbabwe, Turkey and the Rule of Law”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in The Greek Star (July 24) and in The National Herald (July 26).
“What About Turkey’s War Criminals?”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in The National Herald (August 9) and The Hellenic Voice (August 13).
“State’s Blunders on Georgia and Cyprus Damage U.S. Interests”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in Greek News (September 15) and The National Herald (September 21).
“Support Our Greek American Candidates for Congress”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in The National Herald (October 4) and in Greek News (October 6).
“Does Turkey Want a Cyprus Settlement?”
By Gene Rossides. Appearing in Greek News (October 20) and The National Herald (October 18).
The Fate of the Greeks of Imbros and Tenedos
On May 7, 2008, AHI hosted a Noon Forum on “International Law and Minority Protection: The Fate of the Greeks of Imbros and Tenedos” by Professor Van Coufoudakis, Rector Emeritus at Intercollege in Nicosia, Cyprus and Dean Emeritus of the School of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University.
Dr. Coufoudakis discussed the rights granted to the Greek minority population inhabiting the Aegean islands of Imbros and Tenedos under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, contrasted with current examples of violations of these rights. Dr. Coufoudakis also outlined actions that can be taken today to ensure Greek minority rights on the islands.
College Year in Athens: 45 Years and Running
AHI hosted Alexis Phylactopoulos, president of the College Year in Athens (CYA) program, as its Noon Forum guest speaker on May 28, 2008 to discuss “College Year in Athens: 45 Years in the Service of U.S.- Greek Cultural Relations.” During his presentation, Mr. Phylactopoulos provided a brief history on the CYA program, founded in the early 1960’s for students wishing to study the classics and Greek civilization while “immersing themselves in Greek culture and society.” Since its inception, the program has grown substantially and is housed in a central Athens location.
U.S. Ambassador Designate Frank Urbancic
On July 8, 2008, the U.S. Ambassador Designate to Cyprus Frank C. Urbancic met with AHI leadership and staff at Hellenic House to discuss U.S. relations with Cyprus. During the meeting, AHI representatives emphasized the importance of an equitable and viable solution to the Cyprus problem for the U.S. Mr. Urbancic was accompanied by Terry Netos, Cyprus desk officer at the State Department. AHI attendees included: AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI General Counsel Nick Karambelas, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and staff.
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Deborah McCarthy
The State Department’s new Deputy Chief of Mission to Athens Deborah McCarthy visited AHI on July 21, 2008 for a meeting with the organization’s leadership and staff. AHI representatives voiced their perspective on the FYROM name issue, the Aegean Sea boundary dispute with Turkey, U.S.-Turkey relations, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the status of the U.S. visa waiver program for Greece, and the Cyprus issue. AHI attendees included AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and staff.
Greek Deputy Minister Antonis Bezas
Greece’s Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance Antonis Bezas visited AHI’s Hellenic House on September 15, 2008, accompanied by Greek Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Karolos Gadis. While at Hellenic House the deputy minister met with AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI staff to discuss U.S. relations with Greece and related points of interest on which Minister Bezas and AHI could work together in the future.
Greek Chief of the General Staff Dimitrios Grapsas
On September 16, 2008, General Dimitrios Grapsas, chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, visited AHI Hellenic House accompanied by Brigadier General Alexandros Tsigaras, the director of the General Staff’s Defense Policy Division (DPD), and Colonel Dimitrios Thomaidis. Also accompanying General Grapsas was Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias and Colonel Ilias Leontaris, the Greek Embassy’s defense attaché. While at Hellenic House, the general met with AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI staff. Among the items discussed was Greece’s importance as the United States’ key strategic, political and economic ally in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. Following the meeting, AHI hosted a luncheon at the Capital Hilton in honor of General Grapsas and his delegation.
Greek Deputy Minister of National Defense
On October 22, 2008, Deputy Minister of Greece's National Defense Ioannis Plakiotakis visited Hellenic House. The Deputy Minister was accompanied by Colonel (HA) Panagiotis Farantatos, Director of International Relations; Lieutenant Colonel (HA) Ioannis Tzanidakis, Director of the Military Office; Maria Plakiotaki, Director of the Deputy Minister's Office; and Georgios Papagrigoriou, Director of the Press Information Office and Protocol. Also accompanying the Deputy Minister was Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias and the Embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Ilias Leontaris. While at Hellenic House, the Deputy Minister met with members of the AHI leadership, including AHI Chairman James Marketos, AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI's staff.
The discussion centered around various topics ranging from strengthening U.S. relations with Greece, Greece's role in the Middle-East, Turkish violations of the Hellenic air space over the Aegean Sea, and the continued presence of Turkish troops in Cyprus. Following the meeting, the AHI hosted a luncheon at the Capital Hilton in honor of Deputy Minister Plakiotakis and his delegation.
AHEPA Endorses AHI’s 2008 Policy Statements
On July 25, 2008, AHI issued a statement announcing that Order of AHEPA Supreme President Ike Gulas endorsed AHI’s 2008 Greek American Policy Statements on behalf of AHEPA. In the same statement, AHI took the opportunity to also extend congratulations to Mr. Gulas on his reelection as supreme president of AHEPA.
According to AHI President and lifelong AHEPA member Gene Rossides, “AHEPA’s endorsement of the Policy Statements is critical in our efforts to advance these positions throughout the country with U.S. policy makers and members of Congress.
AHI Urges Restrictions on Turkey in Cyprus Talks
An October 7, 2008 statement issued by AHI urged United Nations officials monitoring Cyprus reunification talks to firmly restrict the Turkish government’s engagement in the process, emphasizing that Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat “must be allowed to represent the best interests of his people, not Turkish officials in Ankara.”
In the same statement, AHI also released a set of principles to guide the talks. These principles underscored that the Turkish government should exert no influence in the negotiations and that concessions should not be offered to Turkey for removal of Turkish troops from Cyprus. Lastly, the agreement between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots should guarantee protection of minority rights and result in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation of Cypriot people in a Cypriot state with single sovereignty.
August 18, 2008
Gene Rossides’ letter to President George W. Bush compared Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008 and Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974. According to Mr. Rossides, “Comments by your administration regarding Russian actions in Georgia and calling for the removal of Russian invasion forces ring hollow when compared to U.S silence in 1974 regarding Turkey’s aggression in Cyprus with the illegal use of American-supplied arms in violation of U.S. laws, the U.N. Charter and the NATO Treaty.” AHI’s president also urged that President Bush call for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers from Cyprus as in the best interests of the U.S and in support of the rule of law. Such an action would give enormous support to Cyprus reunification talks and it would have a favorable impact on the Georgia crisis.
September 15, 2008
AHI sent letters to the campaigns of U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, presenting them with a series of policy statements regarding issues of importance to the Greek American community. The issues included Cyprus, FYROM, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Aegean Sea, and the U.S. visa waiver program for Greece. The goal of the letters was to encourage each candidate to issue an official statement addressing AHI’s core policy issues. The letters were sent to the top foreign policy advisors of both candidates, with copies also going to Greek Americans who are assisting with the respective campaigns.
September 22, 2008
AHI members and friends were urged to contact the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the September 24 confirmation hearing for the next-in-line U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James F. Jeffrey. AHI requested that supporters submit questions to the committee for Mr. Jeffrey that urged a critical review of U.S. policy on Turkey.
Paul P. Sogotis
Greeks and the shipping industry have been closely intertwined throughout the centuries. From the merchants of ancient Greece to high profile shipping tycoons such as Aristotle Onassis, Stavros Niarchos, and Yiannis Latsis, one might say shipping runs in the blood, and oftentimes it also runs in the family. For AHI member Paul P. Sogotis, president and founder of Pacific Coast Maritime Agents, this theory rings true.
It all began in 1963 when Sogotis’ father launched Olympic Ship Supply Company, working as a ship chandler to supply ships coming into port with everything they needed to operate—from food, to cleaning supplies, to engine parts. The younger Sogotis took over the company in 1990 and ran it as a ship chandler until 2002. The industry changed, with smaller ship chandlers being increasingly bought out by larger companies. So he decided to switch gears and his business plan. On November 1, 2004, Pacific Coast Maritime Industries, Inc. was born, converting the business from that of providing ship chandler services to ship agency services.
As a ship agent, “[Pacific Coast Maritime Industries] acts on behalf of owners of the vessels as charterers who handle logistics and handle all needs of their vessels when they come into our respective ports of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Hawaii,” explains Sogotis. For example, if the company is appointed a ship’s agent in charge of discharging the crude oil it is carrying, the company starts the process of contacting the Coast Guard, customs and immigration, pilot boats, tugs, and so forth to bring the vessel in to the refinery. Pacific Coast Maritime Industries then discharges the ship’s cargo in the most timely and economical way. In short, “We handle all the movement of the vessels that come into our respective ports that we have offices in,” says Sogotis.
Headquartered in Orinda, California near the port of San Francisco, Pacific Coast Maritime Industries’ mission is “to provide total and complete vessel operations service at all times” to different charters throughout the world. Asked whether or not the shipping industry runs in the blood, “You have to love this business,” underscores Sogotis. “In the shipping industry, it’s not a nine-to-five job. You’re working eight days a week and it’s 25 hours a day. You have to like it or you’re not going to get into it.”
Sogotis’ father, an immigrant from Romania to United States, initially worked for Aristotle Onassis in New York and then moved to San Francisco in the 1950s. Not only is Sogotis in the shipping industry, but so is one of his three siblings. In this case, shipping is indeed all in the family.
Sogotis, whose mother is from Puerto Rico born of Spanish parents and his father is of Greek descent, grew up in a family with a very strong Greek identity. His background and family has thereby strongly influenced both his choice of careers and his significant involvement in the Greek American community.
According to Sogotis, “I’m especially active with the [Greek Orthodox] Church, and everything else spins off from there. The church is the core.” Sogotis is a Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council member, appointed by Archbishop Demetrios, has served on the Council of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco for over ten years and is a recently installed Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He sits on the Board of the Saint Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, and also served on the Parish Council of San Francisco’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
As a member of the Elios Society, Sogotis supports its mission “to preserve and promote the spirit, values and ideals of our Hellenic culture and heritage,” made possible through the work of its members and through its biennial Hellenic Charity Ball. He is also in command of all the logistics surrounding the Sister City Program between San Francisco and Thessaloniki.
As an AHI member on the West Coast, Sogotis would like to help the organization to raise its visibility in the region. According to Sogotis, “AHI is a very worthwhile organization. I think a lot of people out here on the West Coast either know about it, or it’s an out of sight, out of mind type of thing. But it’s time that they get it in their sight and in their minds.”
From career, to family, to community involvements, Hellenic culture runs strong for this AHI member. Sogotis concludes that, “Being involved in the Greek community is a special thing. It keeps us close to Greece. It keeps us in contact. It keeps our heritage going. It keeps our religion thriving.”
Paul Sogotis is married to Evangelia with whom he has two sons—seven year old Panayioti and six year old Yianni.
EMMANUEL “MANNY” ROUVELAS and K&L Gates Public Policy and Law Group, which he founded, celebrated 35 years in business at an event held in honor of both founder and company on September 16, 2008. Mr. Rouvelas was recently selected by the Legal Times newspaper as a “legal visionary” and one of the “greatest Washington lawyers of the past 30 years.” K&L Gates is currently the sixth largest law and lobbying firm in the United States.
GREGORY C. PAPPAS, founder of Cosmos Communications Group Inc. and publisher of Greek America Magazine, has been selected to join the X PRIZE Foundation’s Advisory Council with the goal of helping the foundation to create deeper roots in the Greek American community. Founded by Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, the X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute that fosters radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. The foundation has a goal of releasing ten new prizes over the next five years, with a combined prize purse amount of $300 million.