AHI Completes Successful Delegation Trip
From May 19-31, 2002, leaders of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) participated in a successful trip to Greece and Cyprus, making stops in Nicosia, Thessaloniki and Athens. The delegation, comprised of AHI founder Gene Rossides, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis, AHI Advisory Committee member Kostas Alexakis, and AHI member Andreas Pericli, Ph.D., held substantive talks with government officials, diplomats, academics and businessmen in all three cities.
The AHI delegation arrived in Nicosia on May 20 for a full schedule of meetings and events, beginning on May 21. Among the many highlights of the Cyprus portion of the trip were meetings held with: Christodoulos Christodoulou, Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus; Ioannis Kasoulidis, Foreign Minister; theU.S. Embassy Country Team; Nicos Anastasiades, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Cyprus House of Representatives; Tassos Papadopoulos, Chairman of the House Committee on European Affairs; Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus; Michael Zampelas, Mayor of Nicosia; George Vassiliou, Chief Negotiator for Cyprus Accession to the European Union (EU); Nicos Rolandis, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism; and Takis Klerides, Minister of Finance.
The agenda for Tuesday, May 21 began with a morning meeting withChristodoulos Christodoulou, Governor of Central Bank of Cyprus, to discuss business cooperation and investment in Cyprus. The delegation next proceeded to a meeting with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides where talks focused on the Cyprus problem, Cyprus' EU accession, and bilateral relations with the U.S. At the U.S. Embassy, the AHI delegation met with four representatives from the Country Team to focus on a diverse array of subjects, including those related to trade, economy, the Cyprus issue, and U.S.-Cyprus relations. Separate discussions held later that morning with Nicos Anastasiades, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Cyprus House of Representatives, and with Tassos Papadopoulos, Chairman of Cyprus' House Committee on European Affairs, focused primarily on the Cyprus issue. The AHI delegation was treated to a luncheon sponsored in their honor by the Ambassador of Greece to CyprusChristos Panagopoulos.
On May 22, the AHI team met first with Michael Zampelas, the new Mayor of Nicosia. Then George Vassiliou, Chief Negotiator for Cyprus Accession to the EU, engaged in a candid discussion with the group regarding Cyprus' EU candidacy and key dates looming on the accession horizon. Early afternoon meetings with Nicos Rolandis, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, andTakis Klerides, Finance Minister, emphasized AHI's potential role in helping to promote commerce and industry in Cyprus from the U.S. end.
While Mr. Larigakis and delegation members had submitted a request to visit the occupied zone of Cyprus, their request was denied by the Turkish Cypriots.
An issue that the AHI delegates repeatedly touched on in their meetings with Cypriot officials, and later with Greek officials, was the foreign policy process in the U.S. and the specific roles the legislative and executive branches of government play in affecting the process.
Arriving in Greece's northern capital of Thessaloniki on May 23, the AHI delegation commenced their program that evening with a dinner sponsored in their honor by the Deputy Mayor of Thessaloniki, Yiannis Zournas.
The following day, the delegation was received by the Mayor of Thessaloniki,Vasilios Papageorgopoulos, at City Hall during which time AHI representatives discussed potential modes of cooperation on promoting Thessaloniki and northern Greece as a center for industry and attracting U.S. businesses to the area. Later that day, the AHI group met with U.S. Consul General to Thessaloniki, John Koenig, where they exchanged views on U.S. interests in Thessaloniki and the Balkans.
The delegation rounded out its visit to Greece and Cyprus in Athens, arriving there on Saturday, May 26. The group's full itinerary in the capital included meetings with: Constantinos Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic; U.S. Ambassador to Greece Thomas J. Miller; Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou; Dimitris Avramopoulos, Mayor of Athens; Yannos Papantoniou, Minister of National Defense; Christos Pahtas, Deputy Minister of National Economy; Ioannis Magriotis, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dionyssis S. Gangas, General Manager of the International Relations Division for the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC); Alexandros Lamnidis, Executive Director for the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce; and Theodoros Karatzas, Governor of the National Bank of Greece.
Starting off the week in Athens on Monday, May 27, members of the AHI delegation met with the Minister of National Defense Yannos Papantoniou. The subjects discussed included Greece's defense perimeter in the region and progress toward realization of an EU Rapid Reaction Force. Mr. Papantoniou reiterated his concerns regarding Turkish intransigence in the Aegean and violations of Greek airspace -- incursions which have increased in recent months.
On May 28, the day began as the delegation met with Ambassador Thomas Miller, who briefed the group on all issues related to the current status of U.S. relations with Greece. Following the delegation's stop at the U.S. Embassy, the group turned their attention to U.S. trade relations with Greece and methods through which AHI might help to boost this relationship. In that capacity, the group met with the Executive Director of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce,Alexandros Lamnidis, and then with Deputy Minister of National EconomyChristos Pahtas. The AHI delegation also met with leaders of the New Democracy opposition party.
The day's activities concluded with a lecture at Panteion University's Institute of International Relations (IIR), presented by Gene Rossides on the topic of "U.S.-Turkish Relations: The Need for a Change." The well-attended presentation was presided over by Professor Dimitri Constas, Director of the IIR.
The AHI delegation met the next day with President Constantinos Stephanopoulos, Foreign Minister George Papandreou, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ioannis Magriotis, with each of whom the group discussed the current status of U.S. relations with Greece, Greco-Turkish rapprochement, Balkan policy and the Cyprus issue.
That day, Gene Rossides and Nick Larigakis both testified in Parliament before theCommittee for Greeks Abroad, headed by Member of Parliament and former Deputy Foreign Minister Grigoris Niotis. The two AHI leaders briefed members of the committee on the many activities of AHI, and to provide them with a better understanding of how AHI plays an effective role in advancing public policy objectives that affect U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus. Following their testimony, Messrs. Rossides and Larigakis engaged in a lively question and answer session with the approximately twenty members of the committee who attended.
The roster of events for May 29 concluded with an elegant evening reception held by Ambassador Miller at his residence in honor of Gene Rossides and AHI.
On Thursday, May 30, the AHI group met with the General Manager of the International Relations Division of ATHOC, Dionyssis S. Gangas, at the organization's new offices. Mr. Gangas and AHI representatives discussed potential areas of future cooperation between both groups in the upcoming months just preceding the onset of the 2004 Olympic Games.
A highlight of the delegation's trip to Greece was a dinner hosted by the AHI Athens Chapter at the NJV Athens Plaza Hotel, held in honor of outgoing chapter president Costas Ioannou. The dinner attendees thanked Mr. Ioannou for initiating the Athens Chapter and presented him an award for his hard work and dedication. A number of leaders from the private and government sectors were present, including Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Ioannis Magriotis, who addressed the audience. Special thanks goes to the new AHI Athens Chapter President Ilias Malevitis, former Member of Parliament, for organizing the dinner and for his overall assistance in planning the Athens itinerary of the delegation's trip to Greece and Cyprus.
To close off a very active and fast-paced week of activities, and a successful overall trip to Greece and Cyprus, the AHI delegation met on Friday, May 31 withTheodore Caratzas, Governor of the National Bank of Greece, and with MayorDimitris Avramopoulos at the City Hall of Athens.
The AHI delegation trip concluded on June 1 with the delegation members returning to Washington, D.C. to begin implementing many of the initiatives discussed over the course of their two weeks in Greece and Cyprus.
For additional information or to obtain digital photographs from the trip, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.
AHI Completes Successful Delegation Trip To Greece And Cyprus