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AHI Delegation Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
July 1, 2005—No. 65 (202) 785-8430

AHI Delegation Completes Annual Trip to Greece and Cyprus

From May 29 - June 10, 2004, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) leadership participated in its annual trip to Greece and Cyprus. The delegation held substantive talks with government officials and business leaders in both countries.

In Cyprus, the delegation consisted of AHI President Gene Rossides, AHI Advisory Committee members Kostas Alexakis and Nick Karambelas, and AHI members Costas Alexandrides, Dr. Takey Crist and AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis. In Thessaloniki, the delegation included Messrs. Rossides, Larigakis, Alexakis, and Alexandrides. They were joined by AHI member Elias Papadopoulos. In Athens, the AHI delegation included Messrs. Rossides, Larigakis, Alexakis, Alexandrides, and Papadopoulos. They were joined by AHI Athens Chapter President Ilias Malevitis, AHI Advisory Committee member Ted Spyropoulos and his wife Erica Spyropoulos.

Cyprus

The AHI delegation arrived in Nicosia on May 29. Over the course of the next four activity-filled days, the delegation met with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Christodoulos Christodoulou, Mayor of Nicosia Michael Zampelas, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson, Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos, AHI major benefactor and business leader George Paraskevaides, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives Nicos Anastasiades, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Yiorgos Lillikas, Government Spokesperson Kypros Chrysostomides, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sotos Zackheos, and Director of Press and Information Office Yiannakis Solomou,

The delegation commenced on May 30 with a meeting with Christodoulos Christodoulou, Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus. Governor Christodoulou offered his unique insight into the economic implications of the Annan Plan, and he detailed the grave financial consequences that would result if the current version of the Annan Plan were ever to be implemented on the island.

The delegation proceeded to meet with Michael Zampelas, Mayor of Nicosia. Mr. Zampelas warmly greeted the delegation and briefed them on the challenges of being the Mayor of a divided city.

Later that morning the delegation met for an informative discussion with Demetris Christofias, President of the House of Representatives.

Later Sotos Zackheos, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hosted a luncheon in honor of the delegation whereby a lively discussion ensued on the multiple issues affecting the Cyprus problem.

Concluding an active first day, the AHI delegation attended a meeting with longtime friend and major AHI benefactor George Paraskevaides, founder of Joannou & Paraskevaides, Ltd., a flagship corporation of Cyprus and one of the leading construction companies in the world. During this meeting at the headquarters of J&P in Nicosia, Mr. Paraskevaides emphasized Cyprus’ historical ties with the United States, and he discussed the important role that the Akrotiri military base in Cyprus has played in the U.S.-led campaigns against terrorism in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Paraskevaides thanked AHI for its unwavering commitment to supporting the people of Cyprus.

On May 31, the AHI delegation met with Nicos Anastasiades, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives for a lively discussion. This informative session preceded a luncheon in honor of the delegation hosted by Yiannakis Solomou, Director of the Press and Information Office.

Later that day, the AHI delegation met with Yiorgos Lillikas, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism. Minister Lillikas provided the delegation an educational briefing on the potential for investments and business opportunities that exist in Cyprus.

On June 1, the delegation met with U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia. The discussion centered on the Annan Plan and the visit of the three Members of the U.S. Congress to the illegal occupied north through the illegal Tymbou airport. Members of the delegation addressed their concerns about the Annan Plan’s serious flaws and their dismay over the State Department’s encouragement of travel to the occupied north through Tymbou airport.

Regarding the Annan Plan, Ambassador Klosson did acknowledge that changes would have to be made.

The delegation also called on Greek Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos, during which meeting Ambassador Panagopoulos expounded on the historical ties between Greece and Cyprus and the important role that Greece can play in helping resolve the Cyprus issue.

Later that day, the AHI delegation met with Kypros Chrysostomides, Government Spokesperson for an informative discussion.

Concluding the trip to Cyprus, the delegation met with President Tassos Papadopoulos at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia. President Papadopoulos warmly welcomed the AHI delegation and expressed gratitude for AHI’s tireless dedication and support regarding the Cyprus issue. President Papadopoulos briefed the delegation on his country’s numerous activities in affirming Cyprus’ strong relationship with the United States. He discussed the illegal entry of the U.S. Congressional delegation to the occupied north through the Tymbou airport in violation of international and U.S. law. He also discussed the Annan Plan and why the Cypriot people voted against it. President Papadopoulos was gracious to spend over one hour and a quarter with the delegation, which was accompanied on this visit by Mr. George Paraskevaides.

Thessaloniki

After concluding its visit to Cyprus, the delegation proceeded to Thessaloniki, Greece. In Thessaloniki, meetings were held on June 2 and 3 with U.S. Consul General Demitra Pappas, Mayor of Thessaloniki Vasilios Papageorgopoulos, Managing Director of Helexpo Themis Kartsiotis, Northern Greece Coordinator of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce Nikos Tsavdaroglou, President of Anatolia College Richard Jackson, and President of the American Farm School Manuel Stefanakis.

On the afternoon of June 2, the delegation met for an informative discussion with Demetra Pappas, U.S. Consul General. Immediately after, a meeting was held with Nikos Tsavdaroglou of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce with the discussion centered on the potential for business and investment opportunities in Northern Greece. Later that evening the delegation was hosted to a wonderful dinner by Helexpo Managing Director, Themis Kartsiotis.

The next morning the delegation commenced with an early visit to the Helexpo offices and Trade Fair grounds where the delegation was given a tour followed by detailed discussions on business related matters with Themis Kartsiotis, Managing Director of Helexpo and other members of the board.

The morning concluded with a visit to City Hall and a meeting with Vasilios Papageorgopoulos, Mayor of Thessaloniki. The Mayor welcomed the delegation warmly and thanked the AHI for its continuous efforts to promote U.S.-Greek relations.

The busy and productive week which began Monday in Cyprus concluded Friday afternoon with visits to the American Farm School and Anatolia College.

At the Farm School, President Manuel Stefanakis welcomed the delegation and took its members on a tour of the massive agriculture grounds of the campus aboard a flatbed truck pulled by a tractor. After the very informative tour, President Stefanakis and his wife, hosted a warm reception at their home, situated on the campus. The American Farm School is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year.

Immediately upon leaving the Farm School, the delegation visited Anatolia College where they were welcomed by President and Mrs. Richard Jackson. President Jackson gave a personal tour of the new George Bissell library, an extraordinarily impressive library providing students with the most up-to-date research tools.

Following the tour President and Mrs. Jackson hosted a grand reception at their home on campus for the delegation and Anatolia College Trustee and AHI President, Gene Rossides. The event was attended by over 40 persons.

Athens

After concluding its visit to Thessaloniki, the AHI delegation proceeded to Athens. In Athens, meetings were held during the week of June 5 - June 10 with former President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, Foreign Minister PetrosMolyviatis, Defense Minister Spilios Spilotopoulos, Minister of Public Order Georgios Voulgarakis, Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni, U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries, President of the Greek Parliament Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Chairman of the Parliament Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs Vassilios Magginas, Governor of the National Bank of Greece E.G. Arapoglou, the new Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Alexandros Mallias, and Deputy Foreign MinistersPanagiotis N. Skandalakis and Evripidis Stylianidis.

The delegation was welcomed to Athens with an exceptional brunch reception hosted on the afternoon of Sunday June 5 by AHI Athens members Mr. and Mrs. Philip Morakis at their lovely home. Over 40 guests came out to support AHI and to learn more about the organization.

The official week began on Monday, June 6, as the delegation met with Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis for an enlightening discussion on the recent upgrade in the climate regarding U.S.-Greek relations. Foreign Minister Molyviatis expressed gratitude for all of AHI’s efforts in connection with both Greece and Cyprus.

The delegation next paid a courtesy visit to former President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos where the discussion focused on the current status of U.S.-Greece relations.

In a meeting with Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, the venerable Mayor of Athens discussed how the city is now adapting after the success of the Olympic games. She explained that the opportunities and challenges are many and expressed confidence that the Greek people would succeed once again.

Later that day the delegation concluded its first day in Athens by calling on U.S. Ambassador Charles Ries at the U.S. Embassy in Athens for a discussion of U.S.-Greece relations. During the meeting, Ambassador Ries detailed the significant progress Greece has made in its relations with the U.S. He explained, for instance, the numerous good visits to Washington by top Greek Ministers, capped off most notably by the visit of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in May.

The next day the delegation met with Anna Psarouda-Benaki, President of the Greek Parliament for an informative discussion. Subsequently, the delegation had an extensive working session with Vassilios Magginas, Chairman of the Parliament Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs. Joining Mr. Magginas was PASOK MP Milena Apostolaki.

Upon departing the Parliament, the delegation headed for a meeting with the President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias. The President engaged the delegation in a round-table discussion on the various issues affecting U.S.-Greek relations and thanked the Institute for all its efforts to promote this relationship over the years.

The final meeting of the day was with E.G. Arapoglou, Governor of the National Bank of Greece.

1st Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner

Capping off the productive day was the inaugural AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner held at the Grande Bretagne Hotel. AHI honored former President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stephanopoulos for his exemplary career in public service spanning four decades, for being a distinguished statesman of Modern Greece, and for his indelible mark in forging Greece ahead into this millennium. The dinner was held in cooperation with the Hellenic American National Council.

The evening began with a blessing from Archbishop Demetrios and continued with remarks and greetings by Ilias Malevitis, President of AHI-Athens Chapter, Ambassador Charles Ries, U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Theodore Spyropoulos, President of the Hellenic American National Council (HANC), and Nick Larigakis, AHI Executive Director.

Following the dinner, Gene Rossides introduced President Stephanopoulos and presented him with the AHI Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award. Mr. Ted Spyropoulos presented President Stephanopoulos with the HANC “Medal of Freedom.”

In his remarks, President Stephanopoulos thanked the American Hellenic Institute for this honor and for its tireless commitment to enhancing U.S.-Greek relations.

The dinner was a complete sell out attended by 230 persons representing all segment of Greek life.

Attending the inaugural event were former Ministers Yiannos Papantoniou, Theodoros Pangalos and Grigoris Niotis, and the former President of the Parliament, Apostolos Kaklamanis. In addition, attending from the government were Deputy Foreign Minister Takis Skandalakis and Evripidis Stylianidis. Vassilios Magginas also attended.

From the United States, a number of AHI and HANC members came exclusively for this affair. Also, accompanying Archbishop Demetrios was Greek American businessman and philanthropist Michael Jaharis, Executive Committee Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council.

The evening concluded with a musical interlude by Nadia Weinberg.

On June 8, the delegation met with Defense Minister Spilios Spilotopoulos. Minister Spilotopoulos explained to the delegation that, despite the fact that it is a violation of international law, Turkish aircraft continue to enter Greek airspace airspace routinely. The discussion also focused on the Aegean Sea issue.

The delegation also had a very productive meeting with the newly anointed Greek Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Alexandros Mallias. The discussion centered on U.S.-Greek relations and also the forthcoming initiatives that will be undertaken by the international community regarding the Balkans and specifically Kosovo.

The day ended with a meeting at the offices of Georgios Voulgarakis, Minister of Public Order.

Concluding an extensive week of meetings, the delegation met separately with Panagiotis N. Skandalakis and Evripidis Stylianidis, Deputy Ministers for Foreign Affairs, where the discussions dealt with U.S-Greece relations.

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Photographs from the AHI delegation trip to Greece and Cyprus as well as the 1st Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage and National Public Service Awards Dinner are posted on AHI's Web site.