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November 2011 Newsletter (Vol. 38 No. 244)

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Students Complete Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus

StudentTrip2011_010Greek Ambassador, Vasilis Kaskarellis meeting with students at the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC.

For the third year in a row, the American Hellenic Institute Foundation (AHIF) College Student Foreign Policy Trip to Greece and Cyprus took place from June 8-23, 2011. Thirteen students from across the United States participated. They received first-hand experience about the foreign policy issues affecting Greece and Cyprus, relations with the U.S., and the interests of the U.S. in the region. The trip began with briefings in Washington on June 8-10, followed by a series of policy briefings and cultural activities in Cyprus from June 12-16, and in Athens from June 17-23.

"Leading such an exceptional group of students to Cyprus and Greece was a wonderful opportunity," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "It was rewarding to see them gain first-hand experience about the foreign policy issues that concern U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. The AHI Foundation looks forward to offering this program annually as interest and support for it has grown and participation nearly doubled since its inception three years ago." He added that this year, AHIF received 27 applications for the program.

StudentTripCyprus2011_047Student delegation with Honorable Yiannakis Omirou, President of the Cyprus House of Representatives.The thirteen students selected to participate were: Irene Adamopoulos, St. Edward's University; Alexi Antoniou, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law; Constance Baroudos, California State University, Fullerton; Aspasia Bartell, University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies; Ariane Centrella, University of Connecticut; Yianni Floropoulos, Montclair State University in New Jersey; Joanna Kocani, Georgetown University; Alexander LaBua, Columbia University; Cassandra Papas, American University; John Petsagourakis, University of Pennsylvania; Margaret Skourlis, Queens College; Maria Trakas, DePaul University College of Law; and Anastasia Tserkonis, Clark University. Nick Larigakis, AHI president, led the trip along with his assistant, Maria Stavrou.

StudentTripCyprus2011_031Meeting with the President of Greece, Karolos Papoulias."The experience certainly changed my life, and gave me a cause worth fighting for. The issues in Greece and Cyprus are serious, and they need more of a voice in the United States. I intend to become a part of that voice, as I know the other students will as well. Hopefully together we can begin to make a difference, and begin to bring these issues to the notice of the American people as well," said Ariane Centrella.

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 view Press Release #60 at <http://www.ahiworld.org/media-center/press-releases/2011.html>.


AHI's Annual Trip to Greece, Cyprus Proves Fruitful 

Cyprus: Negotiations Status, U.S. Investment in Focus

12AHI Delegation in Greece with U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Smith: (L-R) Ilias Malevitis, Ted Spyropoulos, Stavros Veletsis, Kostas Alexakis, Ambassador Daniel Smith, Nick Larigakis George Economou, Demetra Atsaloglou, Prof. Costas Alexandrides.

A delegation from the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) successfully completed the organization's annual leadership trip to Greece and Cyprus from May 22 to June 2, 2011. The two-week trip aimed to strengthen relations with both countries and to work on issues of mutual concern through substantive meetings with high-ranking government and religious officials, and business leaders.

The delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the status of UN-sponsored direct talks held between President of the Republic of Cyprus Demitris Christofias and Dervis Eroglu, who represents the Turkish Cypriot community. Throughout the delegation's meetings in Cyprus, AHI was commended for its past advocacy and current steadfast efforts to keep the Cyprus issue visible with U.S. policymakers.

delegation2AHI Delegation in Cyprus with Presidential Commissioner, Mr. George Iacovou. During its stay in Cyprus from May 22 to 26, the delegation met with: American Ambassador to Cyprus Frank Urbancic, Minister of Foreign Affairs Markos Kyprianou, Minister of Defense Costas Papacostas, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides, Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou, Director of the Presidential Diplomatic Office Ambassador Leonidas Pantelidis, Chief of the National Guard Lt. Gen. Petros Tsalikidis, and Advisor to the Mayor of Nicosia Katia Apegitou. In addition, the delegation met with His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II and Governor of the Central Bank Athanasios Orphanides.

Also in Cyprus, the AHI delegation was hosted to a luncheon by Miltos Miltiadou, senior press and information officer in the Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, on May 23; and to a dinner by Ambassador Andreas Kakouris, director of the Office of the Foreign Minister, and Mrs. Androula Lanitis, director of the press and information division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on May 25.


Athens: High Level Meetings Held

delegation14-tif23AHI Delegation in Greece at the Ministry of Defense.

Highlights of the delegation's busy itinerary in Greece from May 27 to June 3 included meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, and a presentation of the Medal of Hellenic Parliament to AHI President Nick Larigakis by the President of the Hellenic Parliament Phillipos Petsalnikos. The itinerary also included a screening of the documentary "Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure" at Panteion University's Institute of International Relations on May 30, and the Seventh Annual AHI Athens Dinner at the Grand Bretagne Hotel on June 1.

In Athens, AHI met with: American Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith, President of the Hellenic Parliament Phillipos Petsalnikos, Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs Spyros Kouvelis and Dimitris Dollis, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Defense, Foreign Affairs, and Greeks Abroad Konstantinos Vrettos, and Director General of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad Petros Panagiotopoulos. The delegation also met with several directorates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are responsible for Cyprus, Turkey, FYROM, and North America; and several directorates at the Ministry of Defense, including Major General Christos Vaitsis, director of the Strategy and Policy Division, Hellenic National Defense General Staff.


AHI Honors UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in Athens

17-tif11Mrs. Marianna Vardinoyannis receiving the AHI National Public Service Award.

The Seventh Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner was held on June 1. More than 220 AHI friends and supporters attended the dinner at The Grande Bretagne despite the civil unrest that occurred that evening in Syntagma Square.

Unfortunately, the civil unrest prevented the evening's honoree, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, who is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and president of the Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA Hospital, from attending. Mrs. Vardinoyannis was presented with the AHI Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award during a scheduled meeting at the Vardioyannis-ELPIDA Hospital on June 2 instead.

Mrs. Vardinoyannis has spent more than 20 years dedicated to helping children with cancer. The hospital which bears her name is a complex of five buildings that serve as clinics to treat various forms of cancer.

The delegation also toured the Pediatric Oncology Unit of the hospital. Hospital officials honored AHI's collaboration when they inducted the organization into the hospital's "Heaven of Children" program. President Larigakis pledged to assist the hospital and its mission.


AHI President Honored by Hellenic Parliament

nick_award-tif21AHI President Nick Larigakis receives the Medal of Hellenic Parliament from Parliament President Phillipos Petsalnikos.

AHI President Nick Larigakis received the Medal of Hellenic Parliament on May 27, 2011 during AHI's delegation trip to Greece. President of the Hellenic Parliament Phillipos Petsalnikos presented him with the award.

"I was deeply touched, humbled and honored to receive the Medal of Hellenic Parliament from its president, Mr. Petsalnikos," said Larigakis. "This is a unique award that I will cherish. My pledge is to continue to work ceaselessly on behalf of the American Hellenic Institute to strengthen the partnership between the United States and Greece." 

Larigakis was named president of AHI on January 1, 2011 after serving 19 years as the organization's executive director.


TurkeyBookFrontBack18-psd1AHIF Announces New Publication

AHIF is pleased to announce the release of its new publication U.S. Relations with Turkey and Its Impact on Greece and Cyprus. This 102-page volume includes the papers presented at two seminars, including "U.S. Relations with Turkey and Its Impact on Greece and Cyprus" on April 14, 2010 and "U.S. Policy Toward Greece, Turkey and Cyprus: Developments and Prospects in the Obama Administration" on April 26, 2010.

The papers include:

  • "A Chill in the Air: Relations with Washington's Turkish 'Ally' in the 21st Century," by Ted Galen Carpenter
  • "Loose Cannon: Washington's Turkish 'Ally' in the 21st Century," by Ted Galen Carpenter
  • "U.S. Policy Toward Greece, Turkey and Cyprus: Developments and Prospects in the Obama Administration," by Doug Bandow
  • "Black Sea Watershed: How Turkey's New Axis With Russia Affects U.S. Interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and South-Eastern Europe," by Gregory R. Copley
  • "Did Turkey Declare War on Israel…and the West?" by Gregory R. Copley (May/June 2010 Defense and Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy)
  • "U.S.-Turkish Relations—The Continuity of Past Policies," by Dr. Van Coufoudakis
  • "The Greek-Turkish Dispute in the Aegean Sea and the Role of the U.S.," by Theodore C. Kariotis
  • "How Should the U.S. Deal With an Ally Like Turkey?" by Eugene T. Rossides

The publication is available in soft cover, 102 pages, for $15 plus $3 for postage and handling. AHI members receive a 25 percent discount—$11 plus $3 postage and handling. Order online at  or by requesting a book order form by phone or email from: AHIF, 1220 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; Tel: 202-785-8430; Email: <[email protected]>.


AHI Submits House Appropriations Testimony

AHI submitted testimony to the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies on the Obama Administration's foreign aid proposals for FY2012 on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

In the best interests of the United States, AHI's testimony 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.

In addition, the testimony strongly opposed the $7.5 million reduction of Economic Support Fund (ESF) funding for Cyprus. The FY2012 proposed level of funding is $3.5 million. However, AHI testified that it supports continued ESF funding for Cyprus as long as it is tied exclusively to bi-communal projects of the island as mandated by U.S. law. The law states U.S. funds are to support only "measures aimed at reunification."

This House Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX). U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is the ranking member.


Cyprus Documentary Viewed in U.S., Mexico

San-Francisco-2-tif14Nick Theofanou, Frosene Phillips, Nick Karambelas, Vicki Liviakis, Ted Laliotis, Nick Larigakis.

AHI continued its series of "Town Hall Screenings" of the one-hour PBS documentary "Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure" with events held in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, April 27-29, 2011; Portland, Ore., and Phoenix, Ariz., September 12 and 14, respectively; Mexico City, Mexico, September 28, 2011; and Hamilton, N.J. (outside of Trenton), October 22, 2011.

The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, Calif., was the venue for the first screening, April 27. It was held in cooperation with Sofia and Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, and AHI Foundation Board Member Kyriakos Y. Tsakopoulos. A second screening was held in the San Francisco Bay Area, April 28, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, Oakland, Calif., in cooperation with The Hellenic Journal and the United Hellenic American Societies (UHAS). This round of screenings concluded in Los Angeles, April 29, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Los Angeles Airport. The screening was held in cooperation with AHEPA El Camino Real District 20 and the American Hellenic Council.

DSC03370-tif25Honorary Consul Galanis introduces AHI President Larigakis to present the Cyprus documentary.The Portland screening took place at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral, in cooperation with AHEPA Chapter 154, the Justice and Human Rights Council of Portland, and the Hellenic-American Cultural Center & Museum (HACCM). The town hall screening in Phoenix was held at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in cooperation with AHEPA Chapter 219, AHEPA Tri-City Chapter 454, and the Arizona Hellenic Foundation.

The documentary tour continued to Mexico City, Mexico and held in conjunction with a ceremony officiated by Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Mexico, Vasilios Philippou, at which AHI member Constantine Galanis was officially installed as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Cyprus to Toluca, a city located near Mexico City.

October concluded with a screening at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Hamilton, N.J. that included a panel discussion featuring AHI President Larigakis and AHI Board of Directors Secretary Nicholas G. Karambelas. More than 200 persons attended including Consul of Greece in New York Evangelos Kyriakopoulos, Consul General of Cyprus in New York Koula Sophianou, and New Jersey Assemblyman Dan Benson; and personal messages were received from Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).

CY_Screening_NJ-tif24(L-R) Achilleas Antoniades; Dr Spiros Spireas, President AHIF; Nicholas Karambelas; and Nick Larigakis.A whole host of supporting organizations and individuals helped to make the New Jersey event a success, including: Amb. Achilleas Antoniades, who chaired the organizing committee and moderated the panel discussion, AHI Foundation President Dr. Spiro Spireas, and the Parish Council of st. George. The event was held in cooperation with (organization and representative listed): Hellenic Vision, President Dr. Georgia Triantafilou and Amb. Antoniades; and the Order of AHEPA District 5, District Governor Savas Tsivikos; and was co-sponsored by the Cyprus Federation of America, Taso Zampas; International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus-PSEKA, Federation of Hellenic American Organizations of New Jersey, President Tasos Efstradiades; Hellenic Link of New Jersey, President Panos Stavrianides; New Jersey Hellenic American Heritage Commission, Chairman Zenon Christodoulou; and Elytis Chair Fund of Rutgers University, President Prof. Panos Georgopoulos.

AHI previously hosted "Town Hall Screenings" in Clearwater, Fla., New York City, and Ohio. Future screenings are planned for St. Louis, Chicago, and the Tidewater, Va. area. Please visit <www.ahiworld.org> calendar for updates.

Also a highlight, "Cyprus Still Divided" aired on Maryland Public Television on October 17. Nearly 20,000 persons viewed the broadcast.

The documentary, which was produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker George Veras and was made possible by the support of AHI Foundation, first aired on Detroit Public Television on September 13, 2010.

A preview of the documentary can be found on YouTube.


Panelists Affirm Greece's Strategic Importance to U.S. 

StrategicImportance12-tif1PANEL I (L-R) Captain J. Stephen (Steve) Hoefel, Dennys S. Plessas, Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, John Sitilides.

AHI hosted the policy seminar "Greece's Strategic Importance to the United States" on May 3, 2011 in Washington, DC, featuring two panels of experts.

"Given recent events that have transpired in North Africa and the Middle East, we believe that this is an important and timely topic to examine," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "We contend Greece is undervalued as a reliable ally and strategic partner of the United States. Our expert panelists provided us with their insights and analyses in a variety of sectors in which Greece has proven its strategic importance to the United States."

The first panel featured: Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president, Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Dennys S. Plessas, vice president, Business Development Initiatives for Europe, Middle East at Africa, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co./Lockheed Martin International S.A.; and Capt. J. Stephen Hoefel, U.S. Navy (ret.). John Sitilides, principal, Trilogy Advisors LLC, moderated the panel.

StrategicImportance13-tif1PANEL II (L-R) Dr. Achilles G. Adamantiades, Amb. Patrick N. Theros, Doug Bandow, Gene Rossides.The seminar's second panel featured: Doug Bandow, senior fellow, Cato Institute; Achilles G. Adamantiades, energy and environment consultant; and Gene Rossides, founder of AHI. Ambassador Patrick N. Theros, principal, Theros & Theros LLP and former U.S. ambassador to Qatar, moderated the panel.

Introductory remarks for the policy seminar were provided by Ioannis Vrailas, deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Greece, who represented Ambassador Vassilis Kaskarelis; and Col. Taxiarchis Sardellis, defense attaché at the Embassy of Greece. They both stressed Greece's strategic importance due to its location, ability to provide peace and security in the region, and for decades of fighting side-by-side with the United States.


AHI Delaware, Oregon Chapters Meet with Legislators

100_1439-tif26AHI Delaware members and constituents share a moment with Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) following their June meeting.Members of the Delaware and Oregon chapters of AHI met with members of U.S. Congress to discuss policy issues of importance to the Greek American community in June 2011.

"AHI commends the grassroots activity of our members from Delaware and the Pacific Northwest," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "The importance of meeting with legislators in their congressional districts cannot be underestimated. We encourage the Greek American community to undertake similar initiatives to educate members of Congress about the issues affecting the community."

Dr. George Moutsatsos, AHI-Delaware Chapter president, Spiros Mantzavinos, the chapter's vice president, and Constantine Caras, who is chairman of Leadership 100, met with U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on June 29, 2011. Members of the AHI-Oregon Chapter met with U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) on June 9, 2011 and June 28, 2011, respectively. The AHI members who met with Rep. Schrader were: Alex Christy, Bill Aspros, and Dr. George Anadiotis. Christy and Anadiotis were joined by E. John Rumpakis and John Somarakis for the meeting with Rep. Beutler.


37th Anniversary of Turkey's Invasion of Cyprus Observed

CyprusInvasion02-tif17Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee.

AHI observed the 37th anniversary of Turkey's illegal invasion of the Republic of Cyprus by hosting a congressional briefing and forum on Capitol Hill on July 13, 2011 to discuss the current state of affairs on the island.

The briefing, held in cooperation with the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, featured: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), co-chair, Hellenic Caucus and member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs; U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), co-chair, Hellenic Caucus; U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who introduced the AHI-backed bill H.R.2597 that sets forth two distinct and separate processes by which U.S. nationals can seek the fair rental value of their property in Turkish occupied Cyprus; and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ).

Also making presentations were: Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Pavlos Anastasiades; Dr. Van Coufoudakis, dean emeritus, School of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University and rector emeritus, University of Nicosia; Alexis Ghalanos, mayor of the occupied city of Famagusta and former speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives; and AHI Foundation 2011 Foreign Policy Program Participant Dina Baroudos, who recounted her experience on the study abroad trip to Cyprus. AHI President Larigakis moderated the briefing.


Bill to Return Property to U.S. Citizens Introduced

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced a bill backed by AHI—H.R.2597, the American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act—on July 20, 2011. If passed, H.R.2597 will set forth two distinct and separate processes by which U.S. nationals can seek the fair rental value of their property in Turkish occupied Cyprus.

"Passage of this legislation will not only return rights to U.S. citizens but send an important message to Turkey and the international community that the status quo cannot stand," said Pallone.

U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus, are co-sponsors of the bill, as are U.S. Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), and John Sarbanes (D-MD) (as of October 24, 2011).

Moreover, AHI President Nick Larigakis commended the efforts of the Greek American constituents of Congressman McCotter who organized an event under the banner of the American Hellenic Congress on September 27, 2011 and cited it as an example of effective grassroots advocacy that yielded the congressman's eventual co-sponsorship of the bill.

"Frankly, we need more grassroots initiatives like this one by the American Hellenic Congress to spark movement on our issues on Capitol Hill," said Larigakis.


AHI President Meets with U.S. Ambassador in Athens

On July 25, 2011, AHI President Nick Larigakis met with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to review Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's July visit to Greece and Turkey.

"We discussed the content of my recent op-ed that critiqued the secretary's visit to the region," said Larigakis. "I appreciated his thoughts about Secretary Clinton's visit, and I expressed AHI's concern about her reference to 2012 being a year that Turkey believes would be an appropriate time for a Cyprus resolution."

Pertaining to Greece, Larigakis stated Secretary Clinton's words of support for Greece and the reform measures the country has taken were welcomed. He added that the secretary's recognition of Greece's partnership on the core issues of importance to the alliance and Greece's contributions to the values that the U.S. and Greece share were positive statements.


AHI President Briefs AHEPA Journey to Greece Students

On July 25, 2011, AHI President Nick Larigakis provided a briefing to students who are enrolled in a "U.S.-Greece Foreign Relations Policy Class" as part of the AHEPA Journey to Greece Program. The class was made possible with the generous sponsorship of AHIF and held at the University of Indianapolis, Athens campus.

Larigakis covered numerous topics, including Secretary Clinton's July visit to the region, the FYROM name-recognition issue, the Cyprus issue, and the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.

The students also attended a screening of the AHIF-supported documentary "Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure" on July 26.


AHI Meets with State Department Officials

On October 12, 2011, AHI met with State Department officials, including Kathleen H. Allegrone, director, Office of Southern European Affairs; James P. Merz, deputy director, Office of Southern European Affairs; Senior Greece Desk Officer Christopher Snipes; and Cyprus Desk Officer Lindsay Coffey.

"We had a productive meeting about the latest developments in the eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey's provocative actions and threats to U.S. commercial interests and to the Republic of Cyprus off the southern coast of Cyprus," underscored AHI President Nick Larigakis. "We look forward to working with them on U.S. policy in the region during what has become a crucial period of time."

In addition, AHI raised the issues of religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, FYROM name-recognition, and H.R. 2597, the American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, to the State Department officials.

AHI Board of Directors Secretary Nicholas G. Karambelas and AHI Director of Media Relations and Research Analyst Demetra Atsaloglou accompanied Larigakis.


AHI Hosts Eighth Annual Golf Classic

GolfTournament2011_030-tifParticipants in the 8th Annual AHI Benefit Golf Tournament.AHI hosted its Eighth Annual Golf Classic at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Va, on October 17, 2011. Celebrity appearances were made by Larry Michael, Voice of the Washington Redskins, and Christine Brennan, sports columnist at USA Today, both of whom appeared at a morning panel discussion about current events and issues affecting the sporting world. The Tournament Sponsor was Calamos Investments.

"We are very pleased that our Annual Golf Classic continues to grow each year," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "We hope to be able to continue to build on this success. Also, we are grateful to our organizers, all of the generous sponsors and golfers who took the time to support AHI and its programs."

The first place team was comprised of: Peter Marketos, Michael Moore, Thomas Pellicane, and Duane Jahner. Second place honors went to: Michael Abbenante, Paul Hersh, Brigen Winters, and A.J. Leimenstoll. The third place team included: Roger Parks, George Sifakis, Kay Tyler, and Yianni Sianis.


AHI IN THE NEWS

Andy Dabilis' column "The Myth of Greece Lies Within the Greeks," appearing in the July 2-8, 2011 edition of The National Herald, referenced AHI with specific references to an April 25, 2011 op-ed written by AHI President Nick Larigakis titled "Does Anyone Care?"

In addition, participants in the 2011 AHIF Foreign Policy Program also had their experiences published:

  • Constance V. Baroudos, a graduate student from California State University, Fullerton, was published in her university's online publication, Inside CSUF. The article is titled "Peering Through Barbed Wire."
  • Aspasia (Sia) Bartell, a second-year MBA student from the University of Washington, Foster School of Business, was published on September 29, 2011 in the Foster School's blog, Foster Unplugged. The blog post also appeared on the Foster School and UW Global Business Center Facebook pages.
  • Finally, Yiannis Konstandinos Floropoulos, a graduate assistant who is studying Law and Governance at Montclair State University in New Jersey, recounted his experience in the fall 2011 edition of the official publication of AHEPA John G. Thevos District 5, AHEPA Voice.

Op-Eds

During the period covered by this newsletter, three op-eds—one written by Gene Rossides and two by Nick Larigakis—were published in a number of Greek American publications:

"Turkey—Ally or Adversary?"
By Gene Rossides, April 9, 2011. Appearing in The National Herald, Greek News, Hellenic News of America, The Greek Star, and The Hellenic Voice.

"Does Anyone Care?"
By Nick Larigakis, April 25, 2011. Appearing in The National HeraldGreek NewsHellenic News of America, The Greek Star, and The Hellenic Voice.

"Secretary Clinton's Visit to Turkey and Greece: How Did She Do?"
By Nick Larigakis, written July 22, 2011. Appearing in The National Herald (August 6-12), The Hellenic Voice (July 27), and The Greek Star (August 4).

For complete versions of the referenced items in "AHI In the News," please visit AHI's web site at <http://www.ahiworld.org/media-center/press-releases/2011.html>.


NOON FORUMS

Forum Commemorates 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete

AHI hosted a forum at Hellenic House on May 16, 2011 titled "Reassessing Operation Mercur: The Significance of the Battle of Crete, May 1941," featuring Dr. Alexandros Kyrou, associate professor of history and director of the East European and Russian Studies Program at Salem State University. The forum commemorated the 70th anniversary of the 1941 battle between the Allies and Axis forces on Crete. According to Kyrou, the Battle of Crete is historically significant because of the considerable delays it caused on Operation Barbarossa, forcing the Germans to engage the Red Army in the Russian winter and thus contributing to its eventual failure.


Cyprus's New Strategic Importance Examined

AHI hosted a forum at Hellenic House on September, 20 2011 titled "Cyprus: Defining a New Strategic Role," featuring Dr. Farid Mirbagheri, professor of international relations and dialogue chair in Middle Eastern Studies, University of Nicosia, Cyprus. The forum was held in cooperation with Strategy International (Thessaloniki). According to Dr. Mirbagheri, Cyprus's traditional significance has long been defined by its geographic location, its democratic ideals, its ability to house military bases for a nation like Great Britain, and its economic relationship with Russia. However, it is Cyprus's latest developments with respect to gas and oil exploration, in cooperation with U.S. firm Noble Energy, and its emerging relations with Israel that define Cyprus's new strategic role. As a result, "a completely new picture of Cyprus is emerging," he pointed out.


Forum Commemorates 89th Anniversary of Smyrna Catastrophe

AHI hosted a forum titled, "Greeks from Asia Minor: Remembrance of Things Past," presented by Alice James, professor of anthropology at Shippensburg University and visiting research associate at the Asia Minor Study Center in Athens, Greece. The forum was held September 27, 2011 at AHI's Hellenic House to mark the 89th anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922.

In her presentation, James spoke about the research she has conducted since 1989 on Chios, with a special emphasis on the Asia Minor refugees that settled there. According to Professor James, research on memory is particularly interesting in the case of refugees because "for refugees, remembering is a complex emotional journey of anger, nostalgia, pain, and happiness." In addition, her presentation included narratives by the women of Chios who wanted to tell their story.


VISITORS TO HELLENIC HOUSE

New American DCM to Cyprus Visits Hellenic House

Andrew J. Schofer, new deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, visited AHI on July 6, 2011.

"We were pleased to welcome DCM Schofer to Hellenic House," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "We look forward to working with him to strengthen U.S. relations with Cyprus."

Cyprus' geostrategic importance and the United States' position on the current status of settlement negotiations were among topics discussed.

U.S. Department of State Cyprus Desk Officer Adam Scarlatelli accompanied DCM Schofer. AHI Founder Gene Rossides, Board of Directors Secretary Nick Karambelas, and Demetra Atsaloglou, director of media relations and research analyst, participated. Larigakis led the discussion.


Mayor of Occupied City of Famagusta Visits AHI

famagusta_visit-tif27AHI President Larigakis, Ambassador Anastasiades, AHI Founder Rossides, Mayor Ghalanos, Mr. Hadjikakou, and Mr. Ioannou share a moment during the mayor’s visit to Hellenic House.The Honorable Alexis Ghalanos, mayor of the occupied city of Famagusta and former speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives, visited AHI's Hellenic House on July 13, 2011.

"We were honored to have Mayor Ghalanos visit with us," said AHI President Nick Larigakis. "We welcomed his thoughts and perspective on the current situation on the island."

Ambassador Pavlos Anastasiades, Simos Ioannou, leader, AKEL Party, Municipal Council of Famagusta, and Mr. Constantinos Hadjikakou, leader, Democratic Rally Party, Municipal Council of Famagusta, accompanied Mayor Ghalanos. AHI Founder Gene Rossides and AHI Director of Media Relations and Research Analyst Demetra Atsaloglou participated in the meeting.


STATEMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

200-Year-Old Church Demolition Condemned

AHI issued a statement on May 2, 2011 protesting the violation of religious freedom committed in Turkish occupied Cyprus, asserting that, "The American Hellenic Institute strongly condemns the demolition of the Chapel of Saint Thekla, a 200-year-old Orthodox Christian church located in the village of Vokolida in Turkish-occupied Cyprus." AHI also denounced the ongoing illegal occupation and human rights violations by Turkey on the island nation, citing the country's disregard for numerous international treaties, and commended a May 12, 2011 statement issued by the U.S. International Commission on Religious Freedom (USICRF) that expresses concern over the demolition of the Chapel of Saint Thekla. AHI pledged to issue a formal condemnation of this act to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


AHI Congratulates Greek Ambassador on Prestigious Award

kaskarelis-tif19Ambassador Kaskarelis proudly displays his award.On May 13, 2011, AHI issued a statement congratulating Ambassador of Greece to the United States Vassilis Kaskarelis upon being selected "Diplomat of the Year" by the prestigious World Affairs Council. Ambassador Kaskarelis accepted the honor on May 4, 2011, in Los Angeles. He was selected among 180 of his peers currently serving in the United States.


37th Anniversary of Turkish Invasion of Cyprus

AHI issued a statement on July 20, 2011 in remembrance of the 37th anniversary of Turkey's invasion of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. The statement begins:

"On July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus with the illegal use of U.S.-supplied arms and equipment in violation of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the United Nations Charter, the NATO Treaty, and customary international law. Turkey occupied about four percent of Cyprus during the initial phase of its invasion. Turkish pilots flying American planes dropped American-made bombs, including napalm bombs, on Greek Cypriot communities."

AHI also announced the release of a two-minute video trailer for the documentary "Cyprus Still Divided: A U.S. Foreign Policy Failure." The trailer can be viewed on YouTube. The full documentary can be purchased at<http://www.ahiworld.com/bookstore.html>.


AHI Highlights Article Detailing Decline of International Law in Cyprus

In a July 28, 2011 announcement, AHI highlighted the article "Cyprus: The Long Decline of International Law" by Henrik R. Clausen, which was published online at EuropeNews on July 21, 2011. The article was published on the occasion of the 37th anniversary of Turkey's illegal invasion and occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. Clausen's piece provides a detailed, yet concise account of the history of Cyprus. He concludes, "The Cyprus problem is a long series of failures to uphold international law, in letter, in spirit as well as in principle, due mainly to the large powers with interests in and around Cyprus choosing political expediency over legally solid solutions."

To view the article, please visit <http://europenews.dk/en/node/45462>.


Foreign Affairs Committee Passage of Bill a Victory

AHI applauded the passage of a bill by the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs that included favorable provisions on Cyprus, FYROM, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in addition to an amendment that urges Turkey to end religious discrimination, cease all restrictions on gatherings for religious prayer and education, and return illegally confiscated church property. The bill, titled the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY2012, passed 23 to 20 in the committee on July 20, 2011. AHI also called on the House to pass the bill and urged the Senate to include these provisions in its version of the bill.

The amendment urging Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage was based on H.Res.306, introduced by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and U.S. Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The amendment, which had widespread bipartisan support, , including the co-chairs of the Hellenic, Armenian, and Human Rights Caucuses in the House, passed 43 to 1 in committee. The sole vote against the measure was cast by Ron Paul (R-TX).


AHI Corrects Erroneous Statement Regarding Property Bill

AHI issued the following statement on August 14, 2011, in response to an erroneous public statement issued by the Tsimpedes Law Firm on August 4, 2011 in reference to H.R.2597, the American Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act, which is backed by AHI.

The Tsimpedes Law Firm's statement stated that the bill "equates the puppet Turkish administration of the occupied territories with a government," implying that the bill somehow recognizes the legitimacy of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus." The firm's statement also erroneously states, "[The bill] even mandates the U.S. government to negotiate and settle property claims of Greek Cypriots directly with the occupiers and the settlers from Turkey."

The fact is that the bill sets forth two distinct and separate processes by which U.S. nationals can seek the fair rental value of their property in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.


AHI Applauds Foreign Affairs Chair's Statement Cautioning Turkey

On September 23, 2011, AHI applauded House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) September 22 statement cautioning Turkey on its threats to U.S. commercial ships off the coast of Cyprus.

"It is clearly unjustified and indefensible for Turkey to interfere in the lawful agreement between the sovereign Government of Cyprus and the U.S. firm Noble energy to explore the gas fields in Cypriot territorial waters," said Chairman Ros-Lehtinen. She also stated that Turkey's decision to escalate tensions by increasing its military presence in the Mediterranean poses a threat to U.S. citizens and interests in the region.

To view Chairman Ros-Lehtinen's full statement: <http://for eignaffairs.house.gov/press_display.asp?id=1983>.


ACTION ALERTS

July 19, 2011—H.Res.306

AHI chapter presidents, congressional contact team leaders, members and friends were urged to contact members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and ask them to support the Berman-Royce amendment (H.Res.306), which asks for Congress to put pressure on Turkey to safeguard Christian heritage and return confiscated Christian church properties.

July 25, 2011—H.R. 2597

AHI chapter presidents, congressional contact team leaders, members and friends were encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives requesting that they co-sponsor H.R.2597, also known as the American-Owned Property in Occupied Cyprus Claims Act. This legislation, introduced on July 20, 2011 by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), would set forth two distinct and separate processes by which U.S. nationals can seek the fair rental value of their property in Turkish occupied Cyprus.


LETTERS TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

May 18, 2011—Secretary Hillary Clinton

AHI released a letter it sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on May 2, 2011 regarding the demolition of the Chapel of Saint Thekla, a 200-year-old Orthodox Christian church located in the village of Vokolida in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. The letter strongly condemns the demolition of the church and cites other recent instances of violations of religious freedom in Turkish-occupied Cyprus. To view AHI's letter to Secretary Clinton: <http://www.ahiworld.org/pdfs/LettertoClintonMay2011.pdf>.

July 15, 2011—Secretary Hillary Clinton

AHI's July 12, 2011 letter to Secretary Clinton was referenced by a senior state department official in a diplomatic press corps briefing en route to Istanbul on July 14, 2011. The official confirmed "regional issues with Turkey" would be raised by the secretary when she meets with Turkish officials in Turkey on July 14 and 15. A reporter referenced AHI's letter, which prompted the official's reply. To view AHI's letter to Secretary Clinton: <http://www.ahiworld.org/pdfs/Clinton_letter_July2011.pdf>.

July 19, 2011—Letter to Members of Congress

AHI released a July 19, 2011 letter to specific members of Congress expressing concern over their support of a policy that urges the Obama administration "to take a taxpayer bailout of Greece through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) off the table." AHI's letter aimed to clear-up any misperception the legislators had about Greece's economic crisis, including clarifying that Greece is in fact receiving a loan from the IMF at a substantial interest rate and not a bailout. In addition, the letter outlined Greece's strategic importance to, and partnership with, the United States. To view AHI's letter to the legislators: <http://www.ahiworld.org/pdfs/SenateLetter_GreeceIMF.pdf>.


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT

Ioannis Vrailas: Representing the EU at the UN

IoannisVrailas-tif28Ioannis Vrailas.

"Representing my country, whether in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, is a major reward and honor in itself," asserts Ioannis Vrailas, a member of Greece's diplomatic corps. Until mid-2011, Vrailas served as the deputy chief of mission (DCM) at the Greek Embassy in Washington, D.C. He switched hats to represent the European Union (EU) on July 16, 2011, where he now serves as the deputy head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

In this new role, Vrailas has three areas of responsibility. The first covers the smooth and effective functioning of the delegation, where Vrailas focuses on instilling team spirit and making the collective output of delegation members larger than the sum of their individual parts.

His second area of responsibility is to contribute operational coordination for the activities of the EU and its member states. Vrailas points out that, "We want to be seen as being accessible, transparent and helpful and as representing real added value compared to what we had before the Lisbon Treaty." The Treaty of Lisbon, put in force in 2009, is a plan for further consolidating the EU's role and streamlining its bureaucracy.

Vrailas' third main responsibility is to effectively represent the EU in meetings at the UN and in interactions with officials from the UN Secretariat and other UN member states.

"As you can see, I am faced with a tall order, but it is a very challenging and exciting task, and I am honored, as a Greek diplomat, to be part of this ongoing effort at enhancing the EU's effectiveness and credibility," he points out.

Asked about the challenges and main priorities of the EU Delegation given the current economic crisis, Vrailas underscored the importance of working with other countries.

"The central element of the European Union's action remains its commitment to effective multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core," noted Vrailas. "The global crises, challenges and threats faced by the international community are such and so many that only an efficient multilateral system, founded on universal rights and values, will allow us to respond successfully to them."

Nevertheless, there is a new and increased emphasis on budgetary discipline and financial accountability, with the emphasis on looking for ways to be equally or more effective with fewer resources.

The economic crisis was a central issue that Vrailas dealt with during his two years as DCM at the Greek Embassy.

"The Greek Embassy had a visibility that it may otherwise not have had, as everybody was interested to hear our views and learn about how Athens was dealing with the crisis," points out Vrailas. "The most testing part of the job was reminding everyone that Greece should not be singled out. The overwhelming majority of Western societies have been spending way above what they have been earning. Greece represents only 2 percent of the EU's [gross domestic product]. When such a small share is allowed to have such a disproportionately massive impact on the European and the world economies, it means that the latter also have a real problem, not just simply Greece."

Many Greek Americans and the Greek diaspora at large are asking how they might support Greece during these trying economic times. Vrailas noted several areas where Greeks of the diaspora might lend a hand:

"Visiting Greece and encouraging your friends to travel to what remains an extraordinary country—a unique combination of incredible natural beauty and of an extraordinarily historic and cultural heritage, which has had such an influence on the development and the fundamental values of the U.S. Engaging at all levels—in business or otherwise. Reminding your political leaders of the geostrategic importance of Greece, especially against the current backdrop of uncertainty and instability in the south Mediterranean and the Middle East," are just some ways to help.

Vrailas also points out, "Greeks need to regain some self-confidence at this stage, and Greek Americans can greatly inspire them by reminding them what a talented nation we are and how successful we can be."

While challenging, Vrailas' duties as DCM were also rewarding, including his interaction with the Greek American community. He focused in particular on outreach to the younger generations of Greek Americans, impressed by their strong ties to their ancestral roots.

Also of note, Vrailas highlighted that, "Under the leadership of Ambassador [Vassilis] Kaskarelis, we took some important steps to strengthen the cooperation between the Greek American academia and their counterparts from the Greek universities."

Vrailas points out that diplomats must play a delicate balancing act between a range of issues versus prioritizing any issue or issues in particular:

"Everything is important today, and diplomats must be as well-versed as they can be on a very vast array of issues—from illegal migration and human trafficking to climate change and sustainable development, from human rights and disarmament to crisis management and the fight against terrorism and organized crime, to mention but a few," notes Vrailas. "Jacks of all trades—but, paradoxically, in the very complicated and complex world of 2011, the surest way to be masters of none is to start prioritizing or cherry-picking what issues and tasks befit a diplomat."

Asked what one piece of advice he might give to aspiring young diplomats, Vrailas advises, "Count your blessings and always focus on the part of the glass that is full and not on that which is empty—and make sure that, by the end of a posting, you have filled it yourself with a lot more water compared to what you had when you first got there."