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Congressman Rob Andrews Addresses Joint AHEPA and AHI Legislative Conference in Philadelphia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: NICK LARIGAKIS
February 1, 2000 No. 05/2000 (202) 785-8430

Congressman Rob Andrews Addresses Joint AHEPA and AHI Legislative Conference in Philadelphia

On January 29, 2000 the American Hellenic Institute and the Order of AHEPA held a legislative conference in Philadelphia. This was the first in a series of joint conferences designed to provide information on issues of key interest to the Greek American community in this important year of presidential and congressional elections. AHEPA and AHI are delighted to foster, in the introductory words of AHEPA Supreme President George J. Dariotis, this "important cooperation" between the two organizations.

The conference covered the following topics:

  1. Cyprus and American Foreign Policy
  2. The E.U. Summit: Implications for U.S. Policy towards Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and the Challenges for the Greek American Community.
  3. Current Legislative Initiatives regarding Cyprus and the Aegean issues for the 2nd Session of the 106th Congress
  4. Workshop on Lobbying

In his greeting remarks at the luncheon, Drexel University President Constantine Papadakis stressed the need for the Greek American community to maintain a vigilant approach to U.S. policy toward Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. It was necessary to "destroy the perception of Turkey as a reliable ally." Dr. Papadakis criticized the U.S. military as being "infatuated" by the Turkish military. He made a strong call for active lobbying by the Greek American community. He congratulated AHI and AHEPA on the clarity and consistency of their positions.

The highlights of Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ)'s remarks were:

  • Following congratulations to Drexel University President Papadakis for its leading position in national research and to Manny Stamatakis, Chairman of the Delaware River Post Authority, Representative Andrews warmly endorsed the sense of "passion" with which AHI and AHEPA approached their mission;
  • He congratulated the Greek government on the statesmanship shown at the December 1999 Helsinki summit of the European Union. He called on the U.S. to "remember its friends such as Greece and Cyprus who had always fought on the U.S. side and who were taking risks for peace." He stated that solutions that were "unacceptable to Greece or Cyprus should also be unacceptable to the U.S.;"
  • Congressman Andrews regretted the 26 years of frustration caused by Turkey's actions over Cyprus, but stated that his sense was that we had reached a "turning point" because of the Helsinki EU Council decisions which put conditions on Turkey's application for candidate status. Congressman Andrews said that he placed his faith in long-term effects of grass roots initiatives, saying that "the harmony of humanity overcomes the resistance of institutions."
  • Congressman Andrews criticized Turkey's "shameful record" shown by its actions over Cyprus, its blockade of Armenia, its oppression of the Kurds and its human rights abuses of its own people. He highlighted the fact that Turkey imprisons the highest number of journalists in the world.
  • Congressman Andrews described as "shameful" the U.S. record of ignoring Turkey's violations of law and human rights abuses. The time had come to recognize Turkey for what it was, namely a "military dictatorship."

In conclusion, Congressman Andrews looked forward to a new era of congressional activism on Turkey. He invited all members of the Greek American community to continue to act as "mentors, friends, teachers and allies" to him and his colleagues.

Mr. Nicholas Chimicles, Chairman of AHIPAC, acted as moderator. He also arranged a private dinner on the evening prior to the conference attended by Congressman Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA). This provided the opportunity to explain AHI and AHEPA policies and legislative priorities to the Congressman, who is a member of the House International Relations Committee.

The next joint conference will take place on February 12, 2000 from 9:00 am- 2:30 pm at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Park Avenue at Grand Central. Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY), Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, will be the luncheon speaker.