November 1, 2010— Volume 37, Number 242
Detroit Public TV Airs AHIF-Supported Cyprus Documentary
Detroit Public Television, WTVS Channel 56, premiered the one-hour documentary, “Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure,” on Mon., Sept. 13, 2010, announced the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF), which financially supported the project. All PBS affiliate stations received the feed for “Cyprus Still Divided” on September 12 and have the ability to air the documentary.
“Cyprus Still Divided” reveals the web of domestic politics, the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger, and repeated refusal of successive U.S. presidents to demand that the rule of law and fundamental human rights be upheld in Cyprus. For example, the documentary presents a recently declassified 1974 State Department memorandum that clearly indicts Secretary of State Kissinger, who wrote, “There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus.”
The documentary also looks to the future of the divided island in the context of the ongoing settlement negotiations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Cypriot community that began in September 2008. The documentary says: “By abandoning the rule of law and its principles, the United States had a role in causing the present division of Cyprus. It remains to be seen whether the U.S. can perform a role in reunifying Cyprus.”
“Cyprus Still Divided” was produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, George Veras and made possible by solicited financial support through the AHI Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, tax-exempt educational and research organization. The DVD is available for purchase at $24.95 plus $3.50 for shipping and handling from <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Annual Trip Features Historic Address at Hellenic Parliament
A delegation from the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) successfully completed the organization’s annual leadership trip to Greece and Cyprus where it held substantive meetings with high-ranking government and religious officials and business leaders. The AHI delegation was led by President Aleco Haralambides and included Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHIF Board Member Gus Andy, AHI-California President Paul Sogotis and staff Vasilios Kotsatos. In Athens the delegation was joined by AHIF Board Member Theodore Spyropoulos and AHI members Dr. George Tsetsekos, Dean, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University and George Mermelas, Co-Owner of the 24/7 Radio Program in Florida, “Greek Voice Radio.” Also, in a first, AHI representatives addressed the Hellenic Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on the Diaspora, chaired by Elpida Tsouri. The two-week overseas trip aimed to strengthen relations with both countries, and to work on issues of mutual concern, occurred May 22 to June 4, 2010.
Cyprus: Delegation Briefed on Negotiations Status
The AHI delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the status of the ongoing direct talks held under UN auspices between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demitris Christofias and Mr. Dervis Eroglu, who represents the Turkish Cypriot community. All throughout the delegation’s meetings in Cyprus, AHI was commended for its unwavering efforts to keep the Cyprus issue highly visible with key policymakers in the Obama administration and in the U.S. Congress.
During its stay in Cyprus, May 22 to 27, 2010, the delegation met with: American Ambassador to Cyprus Frank Urbancic, Director of the Presidential Diplomatic Office Leonidas Pantelidis, Deputy Mayor of Nicosia Soula Kollakidou, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Director of the Permanent Secretary’s Office of Foreign Affairs, Yiorgos Christofides, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives Averof Neophyou, and Senior Press and Information Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Androulla Lanitis. Also, Ambassador Antonis Toumazis, director, Overseas and Repatriated Cypriots, and Senior Press and Information Officer Miltos Miltiadou each hosted their own luncheon for AHI. In addition, the delegation met with His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Governor of the Central Bank Athanasios Orphanides. It also conducted a day-trip to occupied northern Cyprus to survey areas where Cyprus’s cultural and religious heritage has been vandalized or destroyed.
Athens: Papandreou Tells AHI Greece Will Overcome Crisis
Meetings with Prime Minister George Papandreou on May 31 and President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on June 3, and an AHI address at the Hellenic Parliament, were highlights of the delegation’s fast-paced itinerary in Greece from May 31 to June 4, 2010. The itinerary also included talks with many cabinet ministers.
In addition to Prime Minister Papandreou and President Papoulias, AHI met with: Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Head of the Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Diaspora Elpida Tsouri, Minister of National Defense Evangelos Venizelos, Minister of Economy, Competitiveness and Mercantile Marine Louka Katseli, President of the Hellenic Parliament Phillipos Petsalnikos. Moreover, the delegation met with several directorates of the ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the American Embassy Deborah McCarthy. Meetings with Minister of Culture Panos Geroulanos and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Spyros Kouvelis were held with Executive Director Larigakis. As with the delegation’s meetings in Cyprus, the appreciation for the hard work and dedication of AHI to Hellenic issues was conveyed by Greek government officials.
A First: AHI Addresses Hellenic Parliament Committee in Historic “Senate” Chamber
In a historic first, three AHI representatives addressed the Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on the Diaspora about its perspective on United States-Greece relations and what it does on a daily basis to enhance those relations. President Haralambides, Executive Director Larigakis, and AHIF Board Member Ted Sypropoulos provided the address, which was organized and chaired by President of the Committee Elpida Tsouri. Greece’s version of “C-SPAN” carried the address live. It took place at the historic old “Senate” chamber of the Greek Parliament.
AHI Honors Excellence at Gala Affair in Athens
The Sixth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner was held on June 2 to honor distinguished Hellenes Niki L. Goulandris, public servant and environmentalist; and Professor Dimitrios Pandermanlis, president, New Acropolis Museum, for their excellence in public service and their professions. In their remarks, both honorees thanked AHI for the honor of receiving their respective awards and for the organization’s tireless commitment to enhancing U.S.-Greece relations. The event was a major highlight of AHI’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus. More than 200 AHI members and supporters attended the dinner at The Grande Bretagne hotel.
Landmark Conference Marks Republic of Cyprus’s 50th Anniversary
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) hosted a landmark two-day conference “Fifty Year Anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus” on Oct. 4-5, 2010, in Washington. The comprehensive conference featured prominent academics, ambassadors, and policy analysts who, through a series of seven panels, examined historical and contemporary topics that spanned the Republic of Cyprus’s 50-year history, including its economic development, geopolitical importance, cultural and religious heritage and human rights issues, and prospects for a settlement.
AHI Foundation President Eugene T. Rossides was the conference chairman and opened the conference with remarks. The Keynote Speaker was Ambassador Andreas Jacovides, former Cypriot ambassador to the U.S.
“Tribute is due to the American Hellenic Institute Foundation for organizing this great conference to mark the half century anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus, and to the Greek American community for all you have done for the cause of Cyprus over the years,” said the former ambassador at the conference dinner, which was chaired by Ambassador Clay Constantinou. “In light of the eventful and turbulent experiences of the past 50 years, it can be stated with conviction that statehood and independence, even subject to the limitations imposed by the Zurich-London Agreements, has been an asset to be treasured and defended against the constant attempts to diminish and destroy it.”
Conference attendees also heard special remarks from former U.S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes, former U.S. Representative and President Emeritus of New York University Dr. John Brademas, and Jess Baily, director, Office of Southern European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at a conference luncheon chaired by AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. Also, Cypriot Ambassador to the U.S. Pavlos Anastasiades, Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Vassilis Kaskarelis, Philip Christopher, president, PSEKA, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus; Tasos Zambas, chairman, Justice Committee, Cyprus Federation of America, and AHEPA Supreme Governor Dr. Pete Nickolas all addressed the conference at the dinner.
The conference was held in cooperation with PSEKA, International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus; and the Cyprus Federation of America.
For a complete account of the conference proceedings, please visit <http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/2010_063.html>.
Second Annual AHIF Foreign Policy Study Abroad a Success
The American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) sponsored a group of seven Greek American college students for the second annual AHIF College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus, June 17-July 2, 2010. This second year program aims to introduce future Greek American leaders to the core foreign policy issues important to the Greek American community and their impact on U.S. interests in the southeastern Mediterranean region. The trip began with briefings in Washington on June 17 and 18, which were followed by a series of activities and briefings in Cyprus (June 19-24) and Athens (June 25 - July 2).
“I was honored once again to have had this wonderful opportunity to lead such an exceptional group of Greek American students to Greece and Cyprus for a hands-on experience and introduce them to the foreign policy issues concerning the U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus,” said Larigakis regarding the successful outcome of the trip. “The AHIF looks forward to continuing to offer this program as long as there is continued interest and support. I feel certain there will be both.”
The seven students selected to participate were: Arviri (Roula) Adonakis, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Leah Barkoukis, Georgetown University; John Papaspanos, Seton Hall; Georgea Polizos, Florida State University; Alfonso Romero, University of Cincinnati; Michael Savvas, San Diego State and Ellen Youssios, Queens College, QUNY. AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and AHI Director of Government Affairs and Media Relations C. Franciscos Economides led the group on its trip.
“The opportunities which we had to meet with and question various officials of such a high caliber such as foreign ministers, current and former ambassadors, the Archbishops of both Greece and Cyprus, and even the President of Greece himself, Mr. Papoulias, were priceless,” said Georgea Polizos. “Visiting the Turkish-occupied territory of Cyprus and witnessing first-hand the churches and cemeteries that have been desecrated was extremely humbling for me. It is one thing to research and read about a topic extensively, but it is a completely different experience to be able to see injustices such as these directly in front of you.”
The program is open to Greek American and Cypriot American college students in good academic standing who are studying political science, international relations, history, and/or foreign affairs.
For a complete review of the program’s itinerary in Washington, Cyprus, and Greece, please visit <http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/2010_055.html>.
AHI Portland, Oregon Members Meet with Senator Merkley
AHI members from Portland, Oregon, met with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) on May 28, 2010. They presented the senator with AHI’s 2010 Policy Statements and reviewed all relevant issues affecting the Greek American community.
AHI Participates at NIC 2010, Haralambides Receives Honor
AHI was a proud participant at the inaugural National Innovative Conference 2010 (NIC 2010) hosted by the Greek America Foundation on Saturday, June 12, 2010, in Chicago. The conference featured global leaders and corporate giants who presented their “ideas worth sharing” about how they incorporate innovation in their various endeavors. AHI Member Gregory Pappas organized this groundbreaking conference at which AHI President Aleco Haralambides was honored as one of Greek America Foundation’s “40 Under 40” for having accomplished great success in his professional career and personal life.
Organizations Come Together to Bid Farewell to Amb. Kakouris
Four Greek American organizations came together to bid farewell to His Excellency Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., and his family, by hosting a dinner in the ambassador’s honor on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, at the Capital Hilton, Washington.
The American Hellenic Institute (AHI), American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), Hellenic American National Council (HANC), and SAE-USA paid homage to Cyprus’s leading diplomat with remarks that reflected upon Ambassador Kakouris’ dedication and effectiveness, eloquence, and humble demeanor that he displayed during his three-and-a-half-year tenure in Washington. All of these qualities that made his tenure a success came out during Ambassador Kakouris’ address to an intimate gathering of community leaders, colleagues and friends. The ambassador stressed that the community must reinvigorate its efforts to keep Cyprus on the radar. He reemphasized the Cyprus issue is one about the rule of law and the violation of human rights.
“Peace is not the absence of war,” said the ambassador, displaying his eloquence. “Peace is the presence of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
The ambassador made special mention of AHI Founder Eugene T. Rossides, thanking him for his “fighting spirit.” A presentation from AHI was made to the Kakouris family by Founder Rossides, Board of Directors Secretary Nick Karambelas, Board Member James Marketos, Esq., and Executive Director Nick Larigakis.
Congressional Candidate Questionnaire Findings Released
AHI released the results from its 2010 Congressional Candidate Questionnaire on October 25, 2010. In September, AHI mailed the questionnaire to the campaign offices of congressional candidates from the two major parties and select independent candidates who are running for congress.
“The questionnaire surveyed the candidates on issues that are of great importance to the Greek American community that involve U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus, as well as Southeastern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean region,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis “This includes issues such as the Aegean Sea Boundary, FYROM’s name-recognition, a just and viable Cyprus solution, religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a critical review of U.S. policy toward Turkey.”
AHI received 47 responses of which 21 candidates stated they do not complete surveys or questionnaires. Twenty-six candidates did submit responses. The overwhelming majority of respondents were in agreement with each of the nine policy questions asked by AHI. Please visit <http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/2010_065.html> to view the findings.
Letters to the Editor
On August 2, 2010, The Washington Times published Mr. Larigakis’ letter to the editor “Turkish-occupied Cyprus no city upon a hill” in response to a July 26, 2010 letter written by a representative of the so-called “TRNC” titled “Cyprus is not Gaza.” Larigakis conveyed the indisputable facts surrounding Turkey’s invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. “Turkey’s military action against Cyprus on July 20, 1974, was not an ‘intervention’ but an illegal invasion of another sovereign nation with the illegal use of U.S.-supplied arms,” he wrote. In addition, Larigakis detailed human rights violations committed by Turkey as reported by the European Commission on Human Rights.
On September 17, 2010, The Washington Times published Mr. Larigakis’ letter to the editor “Gratitude due Greece, not just Macedonia” that rebutted Jason Miko’s September 7, 2010 commentary “A place at the table for Macedonia?” Miko claimed FYROM is a loyal ally that has been disrespected by the United States. In rebuttal, Larigakis argued that Miko misidentified the loyal alley that has been disrespected by the United States. “Mr. Miko’s attempt to demonstrate how the United States favors Greece over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is flawed,” he wrote. As an example, Larigakis cited the November 2004 decision by the United States to irresponsibly recognize FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia” in total disregard of Greece, a longstanding NATO ally. In addition, Larigakis refuted Miko’s argument that FYROM has contributed more to the war in Afghanistan than Greece.
In sum, eight op-eds, two written by Gene Rossides, five by Nick Larigakis, and one by Aleco Haralambides were published in a number of Greek American publications.
“Obama: “…A Duty to Do What’s Right.” Will He?”
By Nick Larigakis, April 12, 2010. Appearing in The National Herald (5/17/10), The Hellenic Voice (5/21/10), The Greek Star(5/22/10), and Greek News (5/25/10).
“The Greek Crisis: Help Us Help You”
By Nick Larigakis, May 11, 2010. Appearing in Greek News (5/17/10), The Hellenic Voice (5/19/10), The Greek Star(5/20/10), and The National Herald (5/21/10).
“Turkey’s Verbal Attacks and Actions against Israel Provide Opportunity for a Critical Review of U.S.-Turkey Relations”
By Gene Rossides, May 23, 2010. Appearing in Hellenic News of America (5/23/10), The Greek Star (5/27/10), The National Herald (5/28/10), Greek News (5/31/10), and The Hellenic Voice (6/16/10).
“Reflections at Fifty”
By Nick Larigakis, June 15, 2010. Appearing in Greek News (6/21/10), The Hellenic Voice (6/23/10), The Greek Star(6/24/10), and The National Herald (7/2/10).
“Are You Ready to Make a Difference?”
By Nick Larigakis, July 23, 2010. Appearing in Hellenic News of America (7/25/10), The Hellenic Voice (8/4/10), and The National Herald (8/6/10).
“The Sick Man of Europe Unveiled”
By Aleco Haralambides, August 13, 2010. Appearing in The National Herald (8/28/10), The Hellenic News of America(9/10/10), and Greek News (9/12/10).
“Support Dean Scontras for Congress”
By Gene Rossides, August 28, 2010. Appearing in The Hellenic News of America (8/28/10), Greek News (9/5/10), and The Hellenic Voice (9/8/10).
“Why the U.S. Should Care about a Cyprus Solution?”
By Nick Larigakis, October 9, 2010. Appearing in The Hellenic News of America (10/9/10), The National Herald (10/15/10),Greek News (10/19/10), and The Hellenic Voice (10/20/10).
For complete versions of the referenced items in “AHI In the News,” please visit AHI’s web site at<www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/>.
U.S. Policy in Eastern Mediterranean under Obama Administration Examined
AHI examined United States policy in the eastern Mediterranean under the Obama administration by hosting the policy forum “U.S. Policy toward Greece, Turkey and Cyprus: Developments and Prospects in the Obama Administration,” at the Press and Communication Office, Permanent Mission of Greece to the U.N. in New York City on April 26, 2010. The panel of distinguished experts included: Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute; and Dimitris Dimas, Washington editor, Eleftherotypia. Executive Director Nick Larigakis moderated the panel.
The panel concluded that little, if any, change has occurred in U.S. policy toward Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey under the current administration. For example, Dr. Carpenter offered, “There is little indication that the Obama administration is becoming more critical of Turkey’s stance regarding Cyprus and nor have there been productive changes in U.S. policy regarding Turkey’s provocative claims to Greek islands in the Aegean and the repeated and increasing over-flights of Greek territory by Turkish air force jets.”
Mr. Michael Bapis, Dr. John Brademas and Dr. George Carayannopoulos were all sponsors of the forum.
Capitol Hill Forum Observes 36th Anniversary of Turkish Invasion
On July 21, 2010, AHI observed the 36th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by debuting a documentary sponsored by the AHI Foundation titled “Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure” to a Capitol Hill audience. The documentary premiered on Detroit’s PBS affiliate on Monday, September 13, 2010.
Four members of Congress were in attendance to view the documentary, two of which are members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. They were U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Albio Sires (D-NJ). The other two were U.S. Reps. Zack Space (D-OH) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ). The members expressed their confidence that the documentary would serve as an important means to educate policymakers and the public about the Cyprus issue.
Also in attendance were Andreas Kakouris, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S., who addressed the audience; Vassilis Kaskarelis, ambassador of Greece to the U.S.; and many congressional aides. A forum followed the documentary presentation at which many of these dignitaries addressed the Cyprus issue.
Battle of Crete Commemorated with Book Presentation by Blytas
On Wednesday May 12, 2010, the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) in cooperation with the Pancretan Association of America held a book presentation and reception at the Hellenic House for the release of AHIF’s latest publication, “The First Victory: Greece in the Second World War,” by George C. Blytas. The book is published jointly with Cosmos Publishing. “The First Victory” provides a broad explanation of Greece’s vital role in the Second World War, including its resistance against the invading Axis powers that resulted in the first Allied victory. Detailed descriptions and maps are used in Blytas’s account of the events leading up to the war as well as the diplomatic and military progressions which further strengthened the role of Greece, helping her to attain the first victory. Ted Manousakis, president, Pancreatan Association of America, provided introductory remarks before Author George Blytas presented on the book.
Book Presentation Chronicles Dramatic Rescue at Smyrna 1922
AHI hosted a book presentation on “The Ships of Mercy: The True Story of the Rescue of the Greeks, Smyrna, September 1922” authored by Christos Papoutsy at Hellenic House. The book presentation was held October 14, 2010 in commemoration of the 88th anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922. The essence of their presentation focused on their research that documents the heroism and sacrifice that went into the rescue of the Greek refugees, including the valiant actions of an unexpected hero, Asa Jennings, who was appalled at the plight of the refugees. “The Ships of Mercy” provides vintage photographs, naval war diaries, and captains’ logs that corroborate what happened at Smyrna, all of which help to definitely answer the age-old mystery of “Who rescued the Greeks of Smyrna in September 1922?” A video stream is available at <www.ahiworld.org> to view the presentation.
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Visits Hellenic House
Greece’s Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis visited Hellenic House on July 9, 2010 and met with AHI Founder Gene Rossides, AHI Legal Counsel Nick Karambelas Esq., AHI Board Members Kostas Alexakis and James Marketos Esq., AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, and AHI staff. The meeting entailed a detailed discussion of mutual interest regarding U.S. relations with Greece, developments in economic diplomacy and opportunities to invest in Greece. AHI proposed different ways that it could help facilitate bringing increased business and tourism to Greece. AHI has a history of promoting investment in Greece and has published a two edition volume titled “Doing Business in Greece.” Deputy Minister Kouvelis was accompanied by a delegation from Greece’s Foreign Ministry and the Embassy of Greece.
New American Ambassador to Greece Meets with AHI
The new American Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith visited Hellenic House on September 8, 2010 as part of his preparations before he departed for his new post that weekend. The discussion focused on a wide array of topics, including: initiatives to strengthen U.S. relations with Greece, the reunification of Cyprus, the FYROM name dispute issue, the Greek economy, Greece’s important role as the United States’ key strategic, political and economic ally in southeast Europe and the eastern Mediterranean; and the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Christopher Snipes, Senior Greece Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State, accompanied the ambassador. AHI Founder Gene Rossides, Executive Director Nick Larigakis, Board of Directors James L. Marketos, Esq., and Kostas Alexakis, and AHI staff met with Ambassador Smith.
Education Minister, Finance Officials Visit Hellenic House
AHI welcomed high-level education, finance and banking officials from Greece and Cyprus to Hellenic House in October. Greek Minister of Education Anna Diamantopoulou visited October 15, 2010, and Mr. Yiannis Drimousis, secretary general, Greek ministry of Finance, and president, “Invest in Greece,” visited October 8, 2010. In addition, Mr. Athanasios Orphanides, governor, Central Bank of Cyprus, visited Hellenic House on October 9, 2010. Minister Diamantopoulou spoke about the broad challenges of education issues and complimented AHI on its newly-established foreign policy study abroad program, which recently completed its second year. Finally, AHI briefed the minister on its upcoming Ninth Annual “Future of Hellenism Conference” to be held November 20, 2010, in Los Angeles. Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the U.S. Vassilis Kaskarelis and Deputy Chief of Mission Ioannis Vrailas accompanied the minister. Mr. Drimousis and Mr. Orphanides updated AHI on the status of each economy in Greece and Cyprus. In meetings with both officials, AHI looked to identify helpful ways to promote business opportunities and investment abroad.
New Cypriot Ambassador to U.S. Meets with AHI
His Excellency Pavlos Anastasiades, ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States, visited Hellenic House on October 21, 2010. The ambassador thanked AHI for its efforts to promote and advance Greek American policy issues in Washington, citing AHI Foundation’s landmark conference on the 50th anniversary of Cyprus’s independence held October 4-5 as an example. AHI Founder Gene Rossides, Board of Directors Secretary Nicholas Karambelas, and Board of Directors Member James Marketos also participated. Following the meeting, AHI hosted the ambassador for a luncheon. Ambassador Anastasiades presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on September 16, 2010.
AHI Applauded Calls to Rescind Wilson Center’s Honor to Turkish Foreign Minister
In June, AHI welcomed criticism of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ decision to honor Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu from U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Donald Wilson Bush, a descendant of President Woodrow Wilson. Rep. Ackerman, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, described Turkey’s foreign policy under Davutoglu’s leadership as “rife with illegality, irresponsibility, and hypocrisy” in a letter he sent to WWC President Lee Hamilton on June 15, 2010. Wilson Bush, a conservative writer, stated that presenting the award to Foreign Minister Davutoglu “contradicts Wilsonian ideals and the mission of the Center” in an article he wrote in the June 6, 2010 edition of “USA Armenian Life.” The scrutiny of the center’s decision came from both sides of the political spectrum and followed AHI’s call to rescind the honor on May 21, 2010.
AHI Commends Legislators for Cyprus Invasion Anniversary Statements
AHI applauded the members of Congress who submitted remarks or commentary for the public record on the occasion of the somber 36th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus. Excerpts from the public remarks or commentary of U.S. Reps. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), Zack Space (D-OH), and John Sarbanes (D-MD) are found at <http://www.ahiworld.org/press_releases/2010_049.html>.
“We appreciate the members of Congress who took the time to observe the tragic events of July 20, 1974, when Turkey illegally invaded the Republic of Cyprus, and to this day, continues to illegally occupy 37 percent of the island nation,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis. “Their statements reaffirm the call for a just and viable solution to the division of Cyprus; a solution that must be arrived at by Cypriots for Cypriots. Their statements also correctly identify that Ankara must support the peace process and that the United States, in its best interests, should exert its influence to encourage Ankara to do so.”
AHI Lauds House Passage of Resolution Protecting Religious Sites, Artifacts in Cyprus
AHI applauded the passage of a congressional resolution, H.Res.1631, by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 28, 2010. The resolution, introduced by Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), calls for the protection of religious sites and artifacts from and in Turkish-occupied Cyprus as well as general respect for religious freedom. H.Res.1631 had 27 co-sponsors, including House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Rep. Bilirakis introduced it on September 16, 2010.
The resolution urges the government of Turkey to: implement immediately the United Nations Security Council Resolutions relevant to Cyprus as well as the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights; work to retrieve and restore all lost artifacts and immediately halt destruction on religious sites, illegal archaeological excavations, and traffic in icons and antiquities; and allow for the proper preservation and reconstruction of destroyed or altered religious sites and immediately cease all restrictions on freedom of religion for the enclaved Cypriots.
AHI Congratulates Greek American Candidates for Public Office
AHI congratulates all Greek Americans who ran for public office and were successful in their bids. The organization especially congratulates AHI Member Mariyana Spyropoulos for her victory to become Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner. AHI commends all Greek Americans who sought public office in November.
May 21, 2010
Mr. Lee H. Hamilton, president and director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, received a letter from AHI that requested the Center to rescind its decision to present Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu with the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Public Service Award in June. In the letter, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis provides a series of facts since the foreign minister took office May 1, 2009 that demonstrates why he is unworthy of the honor. “We strongly contend that Minister Davutoglu is undeserving of the honor based upon the spirit of the award and the ideals President Woodrow Wilson championed,” he wrote.
July 19, 2010
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee received a letter from AHI that presented a series of questions for committee members to consider asking the Honorable Francis Joseph Ricciardone, Jr., who was nominated to be the next American ambassador to the Republic of Turkey. The letter outlined Turkey’s international law violations and policy failures and called for a reevaluation of U.S. relations with Turkey. AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis authored the letter.
October 25, 2010
AHI sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing the Institute’s disagreement with an October 1, 2010 sent to the president by 19 members of Congress. The legislators claimed that NATO membership for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should not be “negatively affected by bilateral issues with Greece,” in reference to the name dispute issue, as NATO prepares to meet for the Lisbon Summit in November. Of the 19 congressional members who signed the letter, six are members of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues. In addition, the AHI letter commended the Obama administration for not supporting the legislators’ position. AHI President Aleco Haralambides and Executive Director Nick Larigakis authored the letter.
September 8, 2010—AHI chapter presidents, team leaders, and friends were encouraged to contact their local PBS affiliates asking them to air the AHI Foundation-sponsored documentary “Cyprus Still Divided: A Foreign Policy Failure.” All PBS affiliates received the feed for the documentary on September 12, 2010. The documentary reveals a tangled web of domestic politics, the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger, and refusal of successive U.S. presidents to enforce the rule of law in Cyprus.
September 20, 2010—AHI chapter presidents, team leaders, and friends were encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives requesting that they co-sponsor H.Res.1631, a resolution introduced by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) that calls for the protection of religious sites and artifacts from and in Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus as well as for general respect for religious freedom. The resolution eventually passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 28, 2010 by voice vote.
September 27, 2010—AHI chapter presidents, team leaders, and friends were encouraged to contact their congressional candidates urging them to complete AHI’s congressional candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire was mailed to candidates seeking election to Congress (house and senate) from the two major parties (and select independents). The questionnaire explores issues that are of great importance to the Greek American community that involve U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus, as well as southeastern Europe and eastern Mediterranean region.
October 26, 2010—AHI chapter presidents, team leaders, and friends were encouraged to contact the 19 U.S. representatives who signed a letter to President Barack Obama and protest the legislators’ position that NATO allies offer FYROM a formal invitation to become a NATO member despite not coming to an agreement with Greece on its name dispute issue. Of the 19 U.S. representatives who signed the letter, six of them are members of the Hellenic Caucus.
Demetri Argyropoulos, CEO, Prima Worldwide, and AHI member, received the 2010 Gusi Peace Prize on November 24 in Manila, Philippines. The award recognizes brilliant examples of those working toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity. Argyropoulos received the award for his contributions to peace and human rights in economics and leadership. The Guzi Peace Prize was established in 2002 and has flourished as the Asian region’s foremost awarding body, closely compared to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Seventh Annual AHI Golf Classic a Success
AHI hosted its Seventh Annual Golf Classic at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Va., on October 18, 2010. The first place team was comprised of: Steve Bernstein, Paul Hersh, A.J. Leimenstoll, and Michael Abbenante. AHI is grateful to the golfers who participated, and especially to all the sponsors, including tournament sponsor Compuware Corp., and its CEO/President Peter Karmanos, Jr.
Reaching the Top of the Travel World
By Chrysoula Economopoulos
AHI member Niki Leondakis is president and chief operating officer of Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants—a pioneer in the boutique hotel concept. She oversees all U.S. hotel and restaurant operations at 51 locations including, sales and marketing, revenue and distribution, public relations, technology, human resources, sustainability and social responsibility initiatives.
Through her work, Leondakis has earned industry and community-wide recognition as both a businessperson and a woman of power. Every year since 2002, she has been named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” by the San Francisco Business Times. Also in 2002,Nation’s Restaurant News listed her among the “30 Women Power Players” while Travel Agent Magazine called her one of the “Most Powerful Women in Travel.” Moreover, she received AHI’s Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award in March.
As a woman of power, Leondakis’ passion is to empower other women and minorities through innovative and transformational workplace and community initiatives. For instance, the Kimpton Diversity Initiative, which she launched in 2003, fosters a culture that celebrates, promotes and accepts differences among people.
A look back at Leondakis’ upbringing and professional experience reveals how she achieved so much success, and at the same time, why she is so passionate about giving back to others and promoting diversity.
Leondakis grew up in West Springfield, Mass., in a “very Greek household.” She notes, “My parents were very intent on raising us with an appreciation of our Greek heritage.” But with that, there were also challenges as her family was a minority among the neighbors, and though quite different, the Leondakis children naturally just wanted to fit in.
“The effect it had on me was that I went through a period of my early adulthood and into the earlier part of my professional career dissociating from my Greek heritage,” she said.
Similarly, as a woman in the workplace, she grew up professionally having all men as role models as opposed to women. “[So as a result,] I forced myself to go gender blind and gender neutral,” she said.
But as Leondakis came into her own professionally and personally, having already attained considerable success, she began to embrace and celebrate her unique cultural heritage and qualities as a woman. In fact, she differentiated herself through these qualities.
“Going through early adulthood, I came into my own and started developing a stronger sense of self, and when I started finding out who I really was as a person, I really learned to embrace and actually cherish my heritage,” explained Leondakis.
She realized her heritage and upbringing were the basis of her personal and professional values. Her parents influenced her to be proud of her heritage and of herself.
“I had to really do some hard personal work to look at how to integrate all those parts of myself—including the Greek part [and] my feminine qualities. Those qualities were uniquely me in the business world,” says Leondakis of this crucial period in her career. “Once I started integrating all those different aspects of myself into my work, and being more my authentic self, that was really when I started to thrive.”
What Leondakis is most proud of in her career is the relationship that Kimpton has forged with Dress for Success Worldwide, an organization that provides job interview suites and career development assistance to low-income women. She serves as chair of the worldwide board of directors, while women from her company serve on local boards of directors. Leondakis plans to evolve Kimpton’s philanthropic efforts further, with the goal of becoming “a business model for others to see how good corporate citizenship in the global community benefits both the corporation and the community.”
With regard to Hellenic issues, she is most passionate about Greece’s current economic crisis, the ongoing violations in Cyprus, environmental opportunities in the country, and gender equality issues. As with her professional life, all seem to be intertwined with her personal philosophy.
“I’m interested in what opportunities are presented in Greece with the environmental issues…. The idea that the integration of environmental goals and solutions as part of the rebuilding is particularly interesting to me,” notes Leondakis.
For Leondakis, the ongoing violations in Cyprus are about fundamental human rights. “That is something that is core to me and it intertwines with the work I do with women. It’s all connected—human rights, gender rights, the rights of minorities,” she points out.
Similarly, she would like to see equality of pay and representation of women in high-ranking political and business positions in Greece—something she also would like to see more of here in the U.S. That being said, Leondakis underscores that “[It] starts with the attitudes of women. Yes, the attitudes of men play a big part, but if women do not think they can or believe they should [be equal], there’s nothing else anyone can do.”
Consistent with her professional and personal record, the one piece of advice Leondakis offers to other women as they are advancing in their careers is this: “To be yourself. To embrace who you truly are with pride, and to be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you are not.”
Important and hard-fought words of wisdom from one of the most powerful women in the travel world.
Leading a Philanthropic Life
By Chrysoula Economopoulos
John Alahouzos’ professional and personal life revolves around philanthropy. As founding partner and executive vice president of Market Development Group Incorporated (MDG), this AHI member’s work is synonymous with innovative direct mail and capital campaign fundraising efforts to a diverse group of nonprofit clients around the world. MDG coordinates hundreds of fundraising campaigns, membership programs and special initiatives each year, and works with organizations in need of strategic assistance. Clients include the Humane Society of the United States, the National Federation of the Blind, and St. Augustine Church, to name a few.
On a volunteer basis, Alahouzos’ passion for helping others covers a wide range of causes in which his level of involvement is equally deep. He is a member of the University of Maryland College Park Foundation Board of Trustees since 2009. A dedicated fan to his alma mater, he also served as past president, vice president and secretary of the University of Maryland’s student-athlete scholarship fund, the Terrapin Club, and with his wife established the John and Diane Alahouzos Men’s Basketball Scholarship Endowment in 2004.
Yet Alahouzos’ main volunteer efforts for the past 34 years have focused on diabetes research, beginning when his business partner’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of two. Alahouzos ramped up his involvement in the cause 17 years ago when he and his partner founded the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation (DRWF), for which he serves as chairman of the board of trustees. He also sits on the organization’s affiliate boards in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Sweden.
According to Alahouzos, “[DWRF] has probably 300,000 worldwide supporters and has raised in excess of $90 million for diabetes research over the last 17 years,” attesting to how much the foundation has grown.
Alahouzos’ involvement in the Greek American community has been recognized by His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, who in 2009 named him an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Locally, he was on the board of trustees for Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C. for six years.
Asked what motivates his philanthropy, Alahouzos notes, “Coming from a [professional] background where I am asking people to be philanthropic—because that is the type of marketing we do—I believe I became philanthropic at a younger age.”
Additionally, his mother was an inspiration to him: “[She] was always telling me about the school that she went to on the small island of Kalymnos in Greece that was named after a Dr. Zervou [who] gave the money to build the school. That kind of thing is something that struck me from a very early age.”
As an active member and supporter of AHI, Alahouzos’ priority Hellenic issue is the Cyprus problem, underscoring that “When people are denied their legal rights, when the rule of law is just totally disregarded by a nation-state, this is something that we all have to speak out against.”
So from his career to his numerous and dedicated efforts on a volunteer basis, John Alahouzos is a role model for successfully integrating philanthropy into all aspects of his life, significantly impacting the lives of others.