AHI Executive Director Completes Annual Trip to Greece
WASHINGTON, DC—On November 29-December 4, 2004, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) Executive Director Nick Larigakis,accompanied by AHI Advisory Board member and legal counsel, Nick Karambelas, completed his Annual trip to Greece. Mr. Larigakis met with many Greek government officials and business leaders and discussed the organization's goals and objectives and focused on engendering new areas of mutual cooperation and development between leaders in Greece and the Greek American community.
On the occasion of Mr. Larigakis’ trip to Greece, the AHI Athens Chapter hosted a reception on December 1, 2004 at the Grande Bretagne Hotel, where the special guest speaker was Kyriakos Mitsotakis, New Democracy Member of Parliament. His presentation was on current "Greek Foreign Policy" issues. "Mr. Mitsotakis truly honored us this evening by his presence. Considering that only two hours prior to being with us he had the misfortune of breaking his wrist, his appearance at the AHI reception here tonight went way beyond the call of duty." said Mr. Larigakis.
The event started with a welcome address by Mr. Ilias Malevitis, President of AHI Athens Chapter. Greetings were given by Nick Karambelas and the evening concluded with Nick Larigakis providing an overview of AHI’s activities during 2004 to the estimated 200 people who attended the event from the government, political, business and media sectors.
The reception was sponsored by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, G.C. Economou & Associates, Greek Dream, Inc., Ted G. Spyropoulos, and Styliannos Zavvos.
From the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs Messrs. Larigakis and Karambelas held separate meetings with Deputy Foreign Ministers Evripidis Stylianidis and Takis Skandalakis. Both meetings were very extensive in both substance and duration. Issues highlighted were current trends in U.S.-Greece relations and also the Greek American community.
Other meetings in the Foreign Ministry were with Ambassador Diana Zogarianou-Prifti, the Director of the Foreign Ministry's division on Greek American Relations, Ambassador Vassilis Pispinis, Director of the A4 Department for Turkish Affairs, Dimitrios Papandreou, Director for U.N. and International Organizations, and Vasilios Costis, counselor of Embassy at the A3 Division, Southeastern Europe.
In addition, Ambassador Zogariannou-Prifti hosted a luncheon along with her colleagues for Messrs. Larigakis and Karambelas. "Ambassador Prifti was extremely helpful in arranging many of our meetings in Athens. She and her staff extended many professional courtesy’s and was most gracious in support of our trip to Athens." said Larigakis.
In separate meetings, Mr. Larigakis met with Georgios Kalos, Deputy Minister of Education, where the discussion centered around Greek language instruction in the United States and with Professor Theodosios Palaskas, Research Director at the Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research. The meeting with Professor Palaskas was "very useful" explained Larigakis, "because it provides us with the opportunity to forge closer ties with a leading Research Foundation in Greece that we can potentially cooperate with in projects of mutual interest."
The AHI group also met with Dimitris Avramopoulos, Minister of Tourism where a lively exchange ensued regarding Greece’s tourism industry.
From the business sector, a meeting was held Dimitrios Miliakos, Governor of the Agricultural Bank of Greece and with Costas S. Mitropoulos,President of KANTOR Management Consultants SA, one of Greece’s leading consulting companies.
Mr. Larigakis also had the opportunity to reacquaint himself with a number of his co-volunteers from the Athens Olympic games. One of these was Annette Katravas, who is the Project Coordinator for an innovative new Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Global Governance Group. The Group is an international initiative which aims to address the challenges of globalization through innovative approaches to global governance. It was founded by Dr. Kimon Valaskakis, former Canadian Ambassador to the OECD and enjoys strong international support from among others, former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali and Jacques Chirac, President of France.
Mr. Larigakis discussed with Mrs. Katravas potential areas of mutual cooperation between AHI and the Global Governance Group.
From the political sphere, Messrs. Larigakis and Karambelas met with Pasok Member of Parliament Grigoris Niotis, and with New Democracy Member of Parliament, Philippos Tsalidis.
From the media sector, Mr. Larigakis was interviewed three different times, twice for TV and once for the print media. The one TV interview conducted in English was for distribution by ERT-SAT TV, which is shown on cable broadcast in North America. The second was a half-hour-detailed interview conducted in Greek for the Greek TV Station ERT. The other interview was, once again, a lengthy half-hour detailed interview in Greek for the monthly political and economic magazine "Prime."
The concluding appointment was with outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas Miller whom Larigakis and Karmbelas hosted to a working breakfast at the Grande Bretagne. The discussion focused on current issues affecting U.S.-Greek relations and the Greek American community. "As always, Ambassador Miller was very candid in his observations and comments, and I have always appreciated that." said Larigakis. Ambassador Miller is leaving the Foreign Service and his post in Athens on December 23. He will assume the CEO position of an NGO based in London working with children around the world.
After the completion of his trip, Mr. Larigakis stated: "Mr. Karambelas and I had a very busy and tiring week in Athens, but we feel that our meetings were very positive and productive. We are also very optimistic about the possibility regarding a number of specific projects that we had the opportunity to discuss that would be of mutual interest between AHI and certain entities in Greece. Following the success of the Olympics, I strongly believe that Greece must now seize the moment and leverage the success and goodwill generated by the games. There are many opportunities that Greece needs to capitalize on, from tourism, business, and political. The time is now. And AHI is looking forward to assisting in any way that we possibly can towards these efforts."
Digital photgraphs from Nick Larigakis' annual trip to Greece are available at
For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.
AHI Executive Director Completes Annual Trip to Greece