American Hellenic Institute

2017GreekHeritagebutton

AHI Calendar

 
Facebook Image

May 1, 2009— Volume 36, Number 239

GENERAL NEWS

 

Honorees from (l-r): George Pelecanos, John G. Rangos, Sr., Cat Cora, Dr. George Tsetsekos, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

34th Annual Awards Dinner Honors Excellence

On March 14, 2009, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) honored a distinguished set of Greek Americans at its 34th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner, held at the Capital Hilton, Washington, DC. Linked by their important career achievements and by their contributions to the Greek American community and society, this year’s honorees were:

  • Cat Cora, acclaimed chef, philanthropist and author
  • Dr. George P. Tsetsekos, dean, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University
  • George Pelecanos, renowned crime novelist
  • U.S. Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis, Ninth Congressional District of Florida
  • John G. Rangos, Sr., philanthropist and successful businessman

These individuals’ many accomplishments were celebrated throughout the evening, and also highlighted in congratulatory letters submitted to AHI by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros P. Mallias, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Andreas S. Kakouris, World Council of Hellenes Abroad USA Region President Ted G. Spyropoulos, and International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus President Philip Christopher.

George Stephanopoulos.

The master of ceremonies for the evening was George Stephanopoulos, ABC News Chief Washington correspondent and anchor of “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” AHI Board of Directors Secretary Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq. introduced Stephanopoulos.

Opening the evening’s program was AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI Founder Gene Rossides welcomed guests. Mr. Rossides also introduced and congratulated his successor, newly elected AHI President, Aleco Haralambides.

Special guests attending the event included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias, and Mrs. Mallias; Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris, and Mrs. Kakouris; former U.S. Ambassador to Greece Tom Miller, and Bonnie Miller; two former U.S. Deputy Chief of Missions from the U.S. Embassy in Athens Tom Countryman and Mike Cleverly, and former U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Patrick Theros.

The Marines of Headquarters Battalion presented the Colors and the American and Greek national anthems were performed by Elena Stavrakas. Father Constantinos Pavlakos, Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, Falls Church, Va., offered the invocation. Music was provided by Apollonia.

The Distinguished Honorees

George Pelecanos received the evening’s first honor. He was presented with the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his literary accomplishments and excellence in his profession. In his acceptance remarks, George Pelecanos spoke about his pride in being Greek American.

“To me Greek American means a rich culture of tradition, family, work ethic, the pleasure of good friends, good food, good drink, and our faith. We are known for being proud. Some might say overly proud; of our heritage, our relatively rapid progress, and success here in America. And to that I say; we have a right to be!”

Dr. George Tsetsekos received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding achievements and innovation strategies in education.

In his acceptance, Tstsekos said, “It’s always wonderful to be recognized for professional achievements, but being recognized by an organization connected to my heritage is something very special to me. Today it is estimated that more than three thousand academics of Hellenic heritage are involved in education and various roles at universities across the United States. They are part of the intellectual fabric of this great country. The Greek ideals of freedom and democracy provided the foundation upon which the West was built. It is in these challenging times it is with honor and distinction that Greek American faculties exemplify our Hellenic ideals in continuing the path of our ancestors to enrich the lives of generations to come.”

Cat Cora received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for her dedication to philanthropy and excellence in her profession. She spoke about the influence and importance her Hellenic heritage has made in her life and profession.

“I am very humbled by this honor for doing simply what I love and that is showing my passion as a Greek American to the world through food, wine, and teaching,” said Cora. “I especially want to say how proud I am of the tireless work of the AHI in upholding the rule of law and matters of U.S. foreign policy, particularly in our nation’s response in dealing with Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and all of Southeastern Europe. They continue to inform and influence leaders, policy makers and citizens like myself.”

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) was the recipient of the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award for his commitment to public service and his efforts to strengthen U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.

“As a member of Congress I feel that it is especially incumbent upon me to do all I can within my power to uphold the rule of law, in matters of U.S. foreign policy, particularly in our nation’s dealings with Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, the articulated mission of AHI,” said Bilirakis.

John G. Rangos, Sr., received the Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award for his outstanding business achievements, philanthropic endeavors, and generous support of education and the Greek-American community. Mr. Rangos spoke about the strength of future Greek American generations, the importance of upholding the values and faith of the Hellenic heritage, and the need to educate the world on Modern Greek history.

“We have so much to work for because we are the Sheppard’s of tomorrow. We must work hard in the stormy waters of today, with what strengths we have, for upcoming generations of Hellenes.”

Gene Rossides addresses the guests during the dinner at the Embassy of Greece.

Greek Embassy Dinner in Honor of AHI

The weekend’s events commenced with an elegant dinner at the Greek Embassy on Friday, March 13, hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Mallias, to honor AHI for its significant contributions to strengthening ties between Greece and the U.S.

Breakfast Presentation by CBS News’ Thalia Assuras

Breakfast presentation with Thalia Assuras, CBS News Correspondent.

On the morning of March 14, AHI hosted a breakfast presentation featuring CBS News Correspondent Thalia Assuras. Her presentation revolved around her life as a broadcast journalist, her Greek heritage, and the challenges one is faced with reporting on Greek issues. Her presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session.

AHI Welcomes New President Alexandros Haralambides

In January 2009, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) welcomed as its new president Alexandros (Aleco) Haralambides, announced his predecessor, Gene Rossides.

Alexandros (Aleco) Haralambides.

“We are pleased to have such a young, vibrant, Greek American professional, who has been a long time supporter of the American Hellenic Institute, as our new president,” said Mr. Rossides. “He shows remarkable interest and knowledge regarding U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. We are pleased to welcome him and look forward to working with him to pursue AHI’s goals and objectives.”

Executive Director Nick Larigakis also offered congratulations to Mr. Haralambides. “I have known Aleco Haralambides for many years and I have had the opportunity to work with him on a number of projects associated with AHI. I am very pleased that he is the new AHI President and look forward to working with him during his tenure.”

Mr. Haralambides said, “I am truly honored to have been elected President of AHI. With the changes in today’s political climate, I think we have a tremendous opportunity to convey our message. The foundation of this message is that the United States should apply the rule of law consistently with respect to all of its allies and particularly when it comes to Turkey and the Balkan countries. This seemingly simple task has been tremendously difficult to implement over the years; however, I am optimistic that we can make significant progress.”

The AHI Board of Directors consists of: President Aleco Haralambides, Vice President James Lagos, Secretary Nick Karambelas, Esq., Kostas Alexakis, Nicholas E. Chimicles, Esq., Nick Larigakis, James L. Marketos, Esq., and Gene Rossides.

Haralambides, a current resident and native of Miami, Fla., initially became involved 12 years ago, following in the footsteps of his father, John, who was an active member of the Greek-American community locally in Miami and nationally. The elder Haralambides became involved with AHI when the whole family began hosting fundraisers for politicians in their Florida community, such as Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Connie Mack, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Gus Bilirakis and Mike Bilirakis.

Asked what prompted him to take on a more active role in the community, Haralambides cites his father’s untimely passing. “My father was involved in a lot of different things,” said Haralambides. “I felt like it was a shame not to continue that involvement and even surpass some of the things he accomplished.” It was on AHI’s 2004 annual delegation trip to Greece where Haralambides’ view of AHI’s importance was reinforced, and the need for getting more people actively involved in the organization emerged.

“I think there’s some apathy and indifference, but there’s also that some people who just don’t know about AHI and how important it is to Greek issues,” he points out. As AHI’s new president, Haralambides’ top priority is to get more young people involved.

“I’ve been trying to impress on people how important it is to have an organization like ours and have it be active because I don’t think you can really be effective politically if you don’t have a fulltime organization like AHI,” he asserts. “You just can’t compete with interests that are clearly against us, and I think that’s another impression that people—especially some of the people who are Greek-American and who don’t follow AHI as closely—they think ‘Who would want to hurt Greece, or who cares about these issues?’ Well there are clearly interests that work against us, so I think our role is vital.”

Of his long-term vision for AHI, Haralambides would like to see it bolster its business network. He points out that AHI could be an excellent vehicle for entities to network domestically and internationally.

On policy issues, Turkey’s mistreatment of its minorities, particularly the Greeks who remain there, is the one that is closest to Haralambides’ heart because his family has roots in Asia Minor. “In the U.S. and in the international community, we’ve got to encourage Turkey to come into the twenty-first century,” he says. “Turkey must change its laws if it really wants to be a true democracy and if it really wants to be a part of the European Union.”

Living in Miami, Haralambides has also encountered many Diaspora Greeks who reside in Latin America. In his role as AHI president, he aspires to reach out to Greeks in Latin America as they are a largely untapped source of support for AHI’s political, business and cultural agenda.

Finally, Haralambides believes that outreach to the Jewish community in the U.S. would be beneficial for AHI and the Greek American community. “I think it’s appropriate to meet with them and see what their concerns are and see how we can work together, because I think it’s long overdue,” he notes.

Haralambides’ father, John, was a native of Syracuse, N.Y. born to Greek immigrant parents from Bursa, Turkey and his mother is a native of Cuba. Growing up, his parents made sure that he was fluent in Greek, as well as Spanish and, as a central part of this emphasis on language, he spent summers in Greece. This has contributed to his identifying equally with both American and Greek culture.

Haralambides received a J.D. from St. Thomas University, winning first prize in Oral Argument. He has worked at numerous litigation firms throughout South Florida before deciding to launch his own practice in 2002. He also founded Advent Title Company in 2002, and in 2004, Aleco founded Aristo Mortgage Investments, which is a licensed mortgage lender and investment firm, focused on the purchase and sale of whole mortgage loans. He remains actively involved in the Greek community serving on the board of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox church in Miami and he also founded the Hellenic Bar Association in Florida.

A passionate believer in the value of the Greek language, Aleco joined a steering committee in 2001 to realize his father’s lifelong goal of starting a charter school focused on Greek language immersion. In 2002, the Archimedean Academy for Mathematics and the Greek Language was successfully launched. Aleco is currently vice president of Archimedean, which today has approximately 700 students who are all taught math and science in Greek, although only nine percent of students are of Greek ethnicity.

In 2005, he married Vasiliki (Vicki) Hioureas and they have a daughter.

—Chrysoula Economopoulos contributed to this article.

AHI Dinner Honors the Greek American Delegation of the 111th Congress

On January 14, 2009, AHI hosted a dinner in honor of the Greek American delegation of the 111th Congress. U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Zack Space (D-OH), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) attended. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) was unable to attend do to a prior engagement.

Opening the evening’s program, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis said, “As Greek Americans, we always take great joy and pride when someone in our community achieves a high pinnacle of success in their chosen field of endeavor. Tonight, the joy and pride is seven-fold as we welcome to Washington two new members who are joining the other five.”

Remarks by Members of Congress

(l-r) Nick Larigakis, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV), Rep. Zack Space (D-OH), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Gene Rossides, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), and Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL).

Following dinner, the seven members of Congress were introduced by Larigakis.

Congressman Bilirakis stated, “It is from my heart and I have a duty and obligation…to discuss and explain to senior members how important the FYROM issue is to us, how important the Patriarchate issue is, and Cyprus; and how these things have not been resolved for so many years.”

Congresswoman Berkley told a heartfelt story regarding here Jewish family in Thessaloniki during WWII. “I am technically not Greek. My family comes from the Jewish community in Thessaloniki…By the time the Nazis finished with us, there were 1,000 Jews left. If it had not been for our Greek neighbors, there would have been no Jews left. And I am very mindful of the sacrifice that our Greek neighbors made in order to keep some of their neighbors alive,” she said.

Congresswoman Kosmas offered, “I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and to be part of this great community of Greek leaders and look forward to working with you on the issues that are important to you in Congress.”

Congressman Sarbanes remarked, “With respect to the issues that are of particular concern to our community you have to have a certain peripheral vision as you embark on these important issues. We understand what an important ally Greece is for the United States and how that relationship has to be cherished and cultivated; and what a strategic ally a unified Cyprus can be for the United States.”

Congressman Space said, “I think it is fitting that the Greek American community would be so responsible for my victory and my ability to hang on to my seat…We all learned growing up in Greek families the value of hard work, oikogenia (family), and personal responsibility…I look forward to working with you all in the future on these issues that are of such importance to all of us.”

Congresswoman Titus offered, “I entered this Congress with a strong Greek heart, and I am looking forward to working with John, Zack, and Gus as my mentors as we face some of the issues that I know you have been working on for so long.”

Congresswoman Tsongas said, “One of the things that prompted me to run for Congress was the fact that it had been 25 years since a woman had been elected to Congress from Massachusetts. As I look around this table, I think we Greek Americans have done very well in sending women to Congress.”

AHIF to Launch Online Policy Journal

The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is pleased to announce the launch of its online AHIF Policy Journal. The first issue will be available online in late spring 2009.

The AHIF Policy Journal will be published twice a year. The issues will generally contain a scholarly article and shorter articles, essays or briefing papers on particular events and policy issues, student notes and book reviews. Its goal is to provide a forum to promote the exchange of ideas and encourage a dialogue on U.S. relations with Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and Southeastern Europe.

Professor Harry Dinella is managing editor and head of the Board of Editors. The members of the Board are: Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., deputy managing editor; Chrysoula Economopoulos, assistant editor; C. Franciscos Economides, assistant to the managing editor; and Yola Pakhchanian, director of publications. The publisher is Gene Rossides.

John Metaxas is the chairman of the Board of Advisors. Its members are:

  • Professor Van Coufoudakis, retired dean of Academics at Indiana-Purdue University, Indiana;
  • Professor Constantine Hatzidimitriou, adjunct professor at St. John’s University in New York;
  • Dr. Christos P. Ioannides, director of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College, City University of New York;
  • Nick Larigakis, executive director, American Hellenic Institute;
  • Professor S. Victor Papacosma, professor of History and director of the Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies at Kent State University;
  • Maria Papathanasiou, managing editor European Affairs;
  • Professor Speros Vryonis, Jr., founding director of the Alexander S. Onassis Center for Hellenic Studies at New York University, from which he retired as emeritus Alexander S. Onassis professor of Hellenic civilization; and
  • Ambassador Clay Constantinou (ret.).

For submission guidelines and publishing information please visit our website at: <http://ahiworld.org/AHIFpolicyjournal/> or following the link from the AHI website at <www.AHIworld.org>.

Larigakis Testifies Before House Appropriations Subcommittee

Nick Larigakis testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs on March 26, 2009.

On March 26, 2009, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs regarding FY10 federal funding levels. U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) presided over the Subcommittee.

AHI’s testimony, stated in the best interests of the United States, opposed:

  1. any military assistance the administration will request for Turkey until Turkey removes its troops and illegal Turkish settlers in Cyprus;
  2. aid the administration will request for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM); and
  3. any reduction that might be introduced in the aid levels for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Mr. Larigakis testified in support of continuing ES Funds for Cyprus as long as it is tied exclusively to bi-communal projects of the island as mandated by U.S. law which states that U.S. funds support only “measures aimed at reunification.”

Visit <www.AHIworld.org> for AHI’s full testimony.

AHI Hosts Annual Congressional Salute to Greek Independence

(l-r) Rep. Michael E. McMahon (D-NY), Amb. Kakouris, Sofia Tsangali, Principal of St. Katherine Sunday School, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Students of Greek School of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Amb. Mallias, and Nick Larigakis.

On April 1, 2009, AHI hosted its annual “Congressional Salute to Greek Independence Day” on Capitol Hill to celebrate the 188th 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,U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis served as Master of Ceremonies. He thanked Reps. Bilirakis and Maloney for their support in organizing the reception, and for their ongoing efforts to promote Hellenic American issues in the U.S. Congress.

Special guest speakers were Alexandros P. Mallias, ambassador of Greece to the United States, and Andreas S. Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States.

Members of Congress attending the reception and addressing the audience included (in order of appearance):Reps. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Michael E. McMahon (D-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Ron Klein (D-FL), Dina Titus (D-NV), Ed Royce (R-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Steve Driehaus (D-OH), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Zack Space (D-OH).

Each of the speakers emphasized their admiration for Hellenic culture and for the valiant and inspirational struggle for Greek Independence achieved nearly 200 years ago. They also expressed their desire for a proper settlement of the Cyprus issue, and stressed their support for Greece over the name issue with FYROM. Excerpts of their remarks can be found at <www.AHIworld.org>.

AHI Congratulates Rep. Bilirakis

AHI congratulated U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) for his selection as ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight, a top congressional watchdog post.

“In such a short time on Capitol Hill, Congressman Bilirakis has displayed exceptional leadership, knowledge and understanding of the workings of Congress,” AHI’s Nick Larigakis said. “He has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serving the people of his district and the interest of the people of the U.S., and this has not gone unnoticed by the leadership of his party.”

AHI Mourns Passing of Dr. Constantine Papadakis

Dr. Constantine Papadakis.

AHI mourned the passing of Dr. Constantine Papadakis, president, Drexel University, who died April 5, 2009 of pulmonary complications. He was 63.

Dr. Papadakis was credited with raising the endowment, enrollment and profile of Drexel University. He was a recipient of the 1999 AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award. In addition, Dr. Papadakis donated his time and talents by participating in a number of conferences over the years, including being a key speaker at the inaugural AHIF conference on The Future of Hellenism in America held October 2002.

AHI Founder Gene Rossides stated, “I have known Constantine Papadakis for many years. He is a great man who did wonderful things for Drexel University, for the Greek American community, and to all those that knew him. His dedication to education is unparalleled and we are grateful for all that he has accomplished. May his memory be eternal.”

“He was a remarkable individual with a true passion for his family, work, life and his Hellenic roots,” AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis said. “We truly are honored and proud to have counted Dr. Papadakis as one of the most prestigious and dedicated members of the American Hellenic Institute. He has influenced the lives of many not only in the Greek American community, but to all those who were around him. May his memory be eternal.”

On behalf of all our members and staff, we extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his wife Eliana, daughter, Maria and family.

Larigakis Attends Greek Independence Day Celebrations in Florida

Nick Larigakis addresses the crowed from the Parade Reviewing Stand while Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) looks on.

AHI’s Nick Larigakis traveled to Florida to participate in the Greek Independence Day celebrations that were held in Tarpon Springs on March 29, 2009. He was invited to be one of the grand marshals of the Greek Independence Day parade. While taking part in the Greek Independence Day parade, Mr. Larigakis was presented with an Award of Appreciation from the Parade Committee. The award was in appreciation for his “outstanding leadership of the AHI over the years in support of Hellenism and in the strengthening of U.S. relations with Greece.”

Ceremony Marks Latest Delivery of F-16’s to Hellenic Air Force

AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis attended a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s facilities on March 19 to commemorate the initial delivery of the latest generation of F-16 fighter aircraft to Greece under an agreement with the United States. Lt. Gen. Ioannis Giagkos, chief, Hellenic Air Force General Staff; and Bruce Lemkin, undersecretary of international affairs, U.S. Air Force; also took part in the ceremony to mark the F-16 Peace Xenia IV program for Greece.

AHI IN THE NEWS

On January 12, 2009, an exclusive interview with Executive Director Nick Larigakis appeared in Greek News. The article “Nourishing the Vibrant Spirit of Hellenism in America” was authored by Vicki James Yiannias and focused on the Future of Hellenism forums hosted by AHIF over the past seven years and the salient issues affecting Hellenism they address.

In addition, The Washington Times published Mr. Larigakis’ letter to the editor in response to an April 24, 2009 article by Andrew Borowiec, “Turkish-Cypriots Vote Threatens Talks on Unification.” Borowiec offers that talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots to unite the island are under threat because of April’s so-called “parliamentary victory” by Turkish-Cypriot hard-liners in occupied Cyprus. However, Mr. Larigakis rebuts that the real threat emanates from Turkey, which calls for a two-state solution.

Moreover, six op-eds, four written by Gene Rossides and two by Mr. Larigakis, were published in a number of Greek-American publications.

For complete versions of the referenced items in “AHI In the News,” please visit AHI’s Web site at <www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/>.

Op-Eds

“The Obama/Biden National Security Team”

By Gene Rossides, December 9, 2008. Appearing in The National Herald, Greek News, and The Hellenic Voice during December 2008 and January 2009.

“End the ‘Special Relationship’ with the UK”

By Gene Rossides, January 6, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (1/10/09) and Greek News (1/12/09).

“An Especially Historic Inauguration”

By Gene Rossides, January 12, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (1/24/09) and Greek News (1/26/09).

“Let’s Show Support for Senator Menendez”

By Nick Larigakis, February 3, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (2/14/09), Greek News (2/9/09), and The Hellenic Voice (2/11/09).

“Obama/Biden and Turkey’s Anti-Semitism”

By Gene Rossides, February 24, 2009. Appearing in The National Herald (3/7/09) and Greek News (3/2/09).

“Greek Independence Day at the White House—Lost Opportunity”

By Nick Larigakis. Appearing in The National Herald (4/4/09), The Hellenic Voice (4/8/09) and Greek News (4/6/09).

AHI NOON FORUMS

Mallias: Greece Will Be “Honest Broker” as OSCE Chair

Greece will play the role of “honest broker” during its chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and is willing to host a summit to discuss proposals for a new European security architecture when the time is right, His Excellency Alexandros Mallias, ambassador of Greece to the United States, said at a policy forum co-hosted by AHI and The Eisenhower Institute on February 18. He added the ongoing crisis in Georgia presents Greece with a major challenge during its 2009 OSCE chairmanship.

Mallias outlined the issues facing Greece as it leads the OSCE:

Greece is concerned by the continuing lack of clarity over the future of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty and added: “We must do everything to retain and improve this fundamental foundation … of military transparency and predictability.”

The OSCE has a key role in observing elections in the region, and 2009 will see important elections, particularly in the Balkans.

The OSCE can help ensure that the global financial crisis does not “cast a very heavy shadow over stability in the region.” Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and chairwoman emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute, said Greece has a unique role to play as OSCE chairman.

VISITORS TO HELLENIC HOUSE

DCM to American Embassy in Nicosia Jonathan R. Cohen

Deputy Chief of Mission Jonathan R. Cohen of the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus visited the American Hellenic Institute’s (AHI) Hellenic House on Feb. 2. Cyprus Desk Officer Terry Netos accompanied Mr. Cohen. While at Hellenic House, DCM Cohen met with AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas, and AHI Staff. The meeting entailed discussions of mutual interest regarding U.S. relations with Cyprus. Mr. Cohen’s bio can be found at <www.AHIworld.org>.

Mayor of Thessaloniki Vassilios Papageorgopoulos receiving a gift from Nick Larigakis.

Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilios Papageorgopoulos

On April 6, 2009, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilios Papageorgopoulos visited Hellenic House. He was accompanied by a delegation of twenty people consisting of members of the City Council of Thessaloniki and mayors of nearby towns surrounding Thessaloniki. While at Hellenic House, Mayor Papageorgopoulos met with AHI’s Nick Larigakis and staff. The delegation was in the U.S. attending the 18th Hermes Expo International Trade Show & Exhibition Seminars in Atlantic City, N.J. Annually, the municipality of Thessaloniki takes part in the trade show. AHI Member Paul Kotrotsios is the founder and president of the Hermes Expo.

 

 

 

STATEMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

AHI Responds to State Dept. Human Rights Report; Condemns Turkey’s Treatment of Ecumenical Patriarchate

AHI responded to the Department of State’s 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights, commenting specifically on Turkey’s country report. AHI condemned Turkey’s restrictions on religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and called on the United States to demand that Turkey immediately adhere to international agreements guaranteeing religious freedom and human and minority rights.

In the department’s country report for Turkey, released Feb. 25, it stated that non-Muslim religious groups in Turkey “continued to face restrictions on practicing their religion openly, owning property and training leaders.” The report noted that the Turkish government did not recognize the ecumenical status of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and that the Ecumenical Patriarchate continued to seek to reopen the Halki seminary closed in 1971.

“Very little progress has been forthcoming on behalf of Turkey safeguarding the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the spiritual leader of approximately 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “On the contrary, in view of Turkey’s aspirations to join the European Union, one can argue that there has been regression regarding any progress concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

He added, “We condemn Turkey’s toleration of assaults against its Greek Orthodox Christian minority, its continuing illegal closure of the Greek Orthodox Halki Patriarchal School of Theology, and its illegal seizure of property of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox minority of Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos.”

Cyprus

Although Turkey’s continued occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus was not mentioned in the State Department report on Turkey, AHI decried the continuing major violations of human rights by Turkey in the occupied territory and called on the United States to demand that Turkey withdraw its 43,000 troops illegally on the island. Moreover, 35 years after the invasion, thousands of Greek Cypriots remain displaced from their homes and deprived of their property, and those Greek Cypriots living in the occupied portion of the island continue to be the subject of human rights violations, according to AHI.

AHIF Launches College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip Abroad

The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) announces the launch of a new program to help young Greek-American leaders understand foreign policy issues important to the Greek-American community.

During the two-week trip, June 25 to July 10, 2009, college students will have the opportunity to gain perspective on foreign policy issues affecting Greece and Cyprus, their relations with the U.S., and the interests of the U.S. in the region. While the schedule will be packed with briefings and meetings with officials the students will also have free time to visit historic and other cultural sites in Greece and Cyprus.

The program is open to undergraduate (rising sophomores and older) and graduate Greek-American students who are currently enrolled fulltime and are in good academic standing with a minimum of 3.0 GPA. It is for students who are studying political science, international relations, history, and foreign affairs. Space is limited, and participation is contingent upon acceptance by the program review board. The program will led by Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

There will be no costs associated with this program while in Greece and Cyprus. This includes accommodations, local transportation associated with the program, and most meals. Transportation to Washington, DC, Cyprus, Greece, and return to the United States, will be the responsibility of each student (approximately $2,000).

To learn more about program, please contact Yola Pakhchanian at <yola@ahiworld.org>, or visit <http://ahiworld.org/announcements/2009_Summer_Program/>.

American Hellenic Institute Foundation Fellows

The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) is pleased to announce its Fellows for 2009: Professor Van Coufoudakis, Chair, Professor Constantine Hatzidimitriou, Dr. Christos P. Ioannides, Professor S. Victor Papacosma, Professor Speros Vryonis, Jr., Ambassador Clay Constantinou (ret.), and Professor Andre Gerolymatos. For complete bios on each Fellow, please visit <www.AHIworld.org>.

LETTERS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

All letters sent to government officials were authored by AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

February 17, 2009

AHI sent a letter to President Barack Obama presenting the Greek-American community’s issues of concern in Southeastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean based on the best interests of the United States. The letter detailed AHI’s position on Cyprus, Turkey’s suppression of religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its violation of rights of non-Muslim communities in Turkey, the Aegean Sea boundary, and the FYROM name-recognition issue. “The issues discussed above and the recommendations presented for their successful resolution are all embodied within the fundamental principles of democracy and are founded on the rule of law,” wrote AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis.

February 19, 2009

AHI sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton prior to her February 25, 2009 meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis. While the letter highlighted the importance of fostering good relations between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and achieving a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, it placed significant emphasis on resolving the ongoing, sensitive issue of finding a mutually-acceptable name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The letter called on Secretary Clinton to use her influence to impress upon FYROM to: “…negotiate in good faith with Greece to resolve the name issue and to cease immediately their irredentist propaganda against Greece, which violates the UN-brokered Interim Accord, as stated in Article 7 paragraph 1 of the Accord, signed in New York on September 13 1995 between FYROM and Greece.”

March 4, 2009

A March 7, 2009 trip to Ankara, Turkey by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton initiated a letter sent to her attention by AHI. The organization advocated its policy positions that underscore support for the rule of law and respect for international law. AHI contended that U.S. interests are not served well by continuing former failed policies that appease Turkey and promote a double standard in applying the rule of law to Turkey. In conclusion, AHI offered that the U.S. should promote Turkey’s emergence as a fully democratic state whether or not she enters the EU. The letter also called for a critical review of past and current U.S. policy toward Turkey.

March 26, 2009

AHI sent a letter to President Barack Obama regarding his April 6-7, 2009 visit to Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey. Similar to the letter sent to Secretary Clinton prior to her visit to Turkey, the March 26 letter advocates AHI’s policy positions with respect to the Eastern Mediterranean. It requests President Obama to raise a number of core issues of concern to the Greek American community during his visit to Turkey, including Cyprus, religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the Aegean Sea boundary. Moreover, the letter called on the president to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate to demonstrate support for the Holy See.

ACTION ALERTS

April 26, 2009

AHI Chapter Presidents, Team Leaders, and Friends were encouraged to write a letter of protest to the New York Times, requesting the publication to retract an April 21, 2009 article that promoted the purchase of illegal property in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. The article “For Sale In…Cyprus,” written by Lisa Keys, appeared in the International Real Estate section. It described several properties situated in occupied Cyprus and explained the process by which one can purchase them. The article failed to mention that the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus has been under Turkish military occupation since the Turkish invasion of 1974, and as such, the illegal secessionist entity in the occupied area of Cyprus does not have jurisdiction to perform valid transfers of property ownership.

AHI Distributes Article on Greek Minorities of Turkey to Congress

Professor Van Coufoudakis giving his book presentation.

In April, AHI distributed a copy of Dr. Van Coufoudakis’ article “International Law and Minority Protection: The Fate of the Greeks of Imbros and Tenedos” to each member of Congress.

The article discusses a long neglected human rights issue in Turkey involving the fate of the population, of Greek origin, on two Turkish islands Imbros (Gokceada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada). Turkey deliberately and systematically ethnically cleansed both islands despite the provisions of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, an international treaty that Turkey has signed and ratified. The fate of this ethnic and religious minority raises important questions about Turkey’s compliance with international law and with the European Convention on Human Rights at a time when Turkey is engaged in accession talks with the EU.

Dr. Coufoudakis’ research focuses on the politics and foreign policies of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus; as well as post-World War II U.S. foreign and defense policy with particular emphasis on Southeastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

The article was published by Mediterranean Quarterly, Volume 19, Number 4, Fall 2008. Dr. Coufoudakis, is rector emeritus at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus; and dean emeritus of the School of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University.

AHI BUSINESS NETWORK AT WORK

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Helen Rouvelas: A Modern-Day Medicine Woman

Helen Rouvelas.

From the young age of five, Helen Rouvelas knew she was destined to become a pediatrician. And as her life unfolded, many influences motivated her to reach her current role as Director of Pediatric Pulmonology at New York Hospital Queens, and concurrently, as owner of a medical practice that focuses on pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics.

Rouvelas recalls, “It was just one of those innate things that I felt when I was very, very young…I was the one running to the medicine cabinet any time anyone got hurt, got a paper cut, getting the alcohol and the iodine and the bandages and stitching everyone up.”

Among several strong sources of career inspiration, Rouvelas cites her older brother, who is also a physician. As a younger sibling, she always heard stories that fascinated her throughout his medical training.

But perhaps most interesting is what Rouvelas calls a “genetic predisposition” for the medical field. In addition to her brother, most of her cousins in Greece—with whom she did not grow up—are physicians, as was her great grandfather. And though one of her great, great grandfathers had completely broken ties with his family in Mani, Greece, even changing his name, Rouvelas uncovered that the original family home was marked with a sign that read “Iatros (Doctor) Ioannis Matouvalos.” So even six generations back, there were doctors in Rouvelas’ family.

Rouvelas is passionate about her work not only because of these key influences, but also because she loves helping patients. “Every patient that improves through the efforts of my treatment, with my hands-on approach, is a victory for me,” she emphasizes.

As if her two concurrent fulltime jobs did not keep her busy enough, Rouvelas is in the process of creating a large asthma center in Flushing, N.Y. The new center will come complete with state-of-the-art equipment and various forms of pulmonary function and allergy testing.

“Coming from a Greek background with immigrant parents that came from very poor beginnings, I was always taught the value of hard work,” says Rouvelas of her drive to succeed and her strong work ethic.

With biology, classical civilization and Hellenic studies majors in college, Rouvelas further underscores the deep role her Greek upbringing played throughout her life: “I was always very passionate about my roots, and as a Greek, I felt I had the responsibility to learn more and educate people about it.”
In addition to doing what she can on an individual basis to promote Hellenism and to support Greek issues, Rouvelas credits AHI for providing the Greek American community with a voice.

Rouvelas is not only a modern-day medicine woman, but the epitome of a renaissance woman, excelling in all that she does.

—Chrysoula Economopoulos