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AHI Hosts Ambassador Thomas J. Miller In Washington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
January 23, 2002 No. 2/02 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Ambassador Thomas J. Miller In Washington

On January 18, 2002, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a dinner in honor of U.S. Ambassador to Greece Thomas J. Miller at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. The event drew 100 attendees and provided an opportunity for guests to hear a first-hand account of current issues and developments confronted by the ambassador during the early stages of his newest diplomatic post.

Opening remarks were delivered by AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis with AHI founder Gene Rossides introducing the guest-of-honor. Ambassador Miller proceeded with a frank discussion of the positive political, economic and social transformations evident in Greece since his first tour of diplomatic service in the U.S. Embassy's political section in Athens from 1985-1987.

Regarding Greece's economy, Ambassador Miller remarked that the country's qualified entry into the Eurozone attests to a difficult yet successful transformation and level of stability: "Right now, after all the shocks, after September 11, after what would be a worldwide recession, Greece is still growing at 3.8 percent. That's the highest not only in the [European Union], but also among [Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development] countries. So it's a very, very different economy [than in the mid-1980s]."

Ambassador Miller also discussed the Athens 2004 Olympics, touching on a recent controversial report regarding terrorism and Greece on the CBS television newsmagazine "60 Minutes." While he cited the significant challenges faced by Greece as the smallest country ever to host the Olympics aside from Greece back in 1896, the ambassador also expressed full confidence in the necessary requirements and objectives being achieved. He also pointed out that $600 million had already been dedicated to the Olympics security budget alone, and emphasized that the Greek government is working in close cooperation with the U.S. and six other countries to ensure that the Athens 2004 Olympics provide top security for all those involved.

On the foreign policy front, Ambassador Miller highlighted the high level of coordination between the Greek and U.S. governments, especially as evidenced by Greece's full cooperation and support in the war on terrorism subsequent to the September 11 attacks against the U.S.

Related to the region, the ambassador applauded the closer bilateral relationship developing between Greece and Turkey in recent years, credited in part to the stronger working relationship achieved by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem.

Also regarding the southeastern European region, Ambassador Miller expressed confidence in the possibility of a Cyprus settlement. He stated, "Back [in 1985], there was a perception, there was a belief - widespread - that Cyprus was forever stuck. I've always believed that there is a solution out there." Especially with the imminent prospect of Cyprus accession to the EU, this has been a "major factor in convincing the Turkish side that it had a lot more to lose by stonewalling negotiations." Additionally, a renewed commitment to settlement negotiations on the part of Cyprus' President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is another factor promoting a settlement on Cyprus.

Ambassador Miller next discussed the efforts to root out the terrorist group November 17. He pointed out that a significant tactical error was made when November 17 assassinated Brigadier Stephen Saunders, British military attaché to Greece. This act of murder brought yet another major force - the British - into the counter-terrorism fold. The Greek government is and has been working closely with the U.S. and the United Kingdom to eradicate November 17.

The dinner event concluded with a question and answer session that expanded on many of the topics already addressed by the Ambassador.

The evening's distinguished attendees included: Cyprus Ambassador to the U.S.Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis; Ambassador Alexios Christopoulos representing the Embassy of Greece while Greece's Ambassador to the U.S., Alexander Philon, was in Greece; Constantine Papadakis, President of Drexel University; Manny Stamatakis, Commissioner and Chairman of the Delaware River Port Authority;J.D. Estes, Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison; Don Neese, Director-Western Europe at Lockheed Martin Corporation; Maryland State Senator Perry SfikasGeorge Sifakis, Special Assistant for Congressional Relations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development;Maria Papadopoulos, Editor in Chief of the Hellenic Voice newspaper; Charles Moskos, Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University and Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Visiting Scholars; world-renowned physicist Stamatis KrimigisChristy Stefadouros, Communications Director and Legislative Assistant for U.S. Congressman Michael Bilirakis (R-FL);Andreas Pericli, President of the Pan Cyprian Association; and Aram Hamparian, Executive Director for the Armenian National Committee of America.

For additional information regarding the AHI dinner in honor of Ambassador Thomas J. Miller, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information on AHI, see our Web site athttp://www.ahiworld.org.