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AHI Conducts Trip to Greece, Cyprus and Israel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Demetra Atsaloglou
June 12, 2012—No. 39 (202) 785-8430

AHI Conducts Trip to Greece, Cyprus and Israel

Substantive Talks Held with High-Ranking Government Officials to Strengthen Relations between Countries

WASHINGTON, DC —A delegation from the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) successfully completed the organization’s annual leadership trip to Greece and Cyprus where it held substantive meetings with high-ranking government and religious officials and business leaders with the purpose of strengthening relations and addressing issues of mutual concern. The two-week trip, which occurred May 21 to 31, 2012, also included a leg to Israel.

“We had a very productive series of high-visibility meetings in Greece, Cyprus, and Israel,” said President Nick Larigakis. “We accomplished the objectives we set out to achieve, and we received insightful briefings on issues of importance to the Greek American community. We thank all of the leaders who took the time to meet with us to discuss these very important issues.”

Israel: AHI Endeavors to Build Relations

From May 21 to 23, AHI visited Israel to conduct meetings with Israeli government officials, including members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), and business leaders in addition to Greek government officials. Topics of discussion centered on the evolving relationship between Israel and Greece and Cyprus as well as U.S.-Israel relations.

The delegation met with: Ambassador Pinhas Avivi, political director, Multilateral, Global and Strategic Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Col. Dr. Eran Lerman, deputy national security advisor for foreign policy and international affairs, Israeli National Security Council; Dr. Einat Wilf (Haatzma’ut), member, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee; Ambassador Kyriakos Loukakis, ambassador of Greece to Israel; and representatives from the Israeli Defense Ministry. A meeting with Mr. Binyamin Zomer, director, Corporate Affairs-Israel, Noble Energy Mediterranean Ltd., centered on the firm’s efforts to explore for hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean.

In addition, AHI took an emotional tour of Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority on May 21 and traveled to Haifa to tour an Israeli Defense Force Naval Base and a naval vessel on May 22. In addition, the delegation received a briefing from a public affairs naval officer while at the base.

AHI also attended a dinner in honor of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem at the King David Hotel on May 22 hosted by a visiting group of Archons. AHI had a separate audience with His Beatitude on May 23.

The Israeli leg concluded with a dinner-lecture on Israel-U.S. relations hosted by Ambassador Yossi Ben-Aharon, former director general (chief of staff), Prime Minister’s Office.

AHI Works to Address Many Issues Facing Cyprus

The AHI delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the status of the ongoing direct talks for a Cyprus settlement held under UN auspices, Cyprus’ upcoming EU Presidency and Cyprus’ efforts to explore for hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). All throughout the delegation’s meetings in Cyprus, AHI was commended for its past advocacy and current steadfast efforts to keep the Cyprus issue highly visible with key policymakers in the Obama administration and in the U.S. Congress.

During its stay in Cyprus, May 24 to 26, 2012, the delegation met with: Minister of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during a working luncheon session that she graciously hosted, Cypriot Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou, President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou, and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign and European Affairs of the House of Representatives Averof Neophytou. Also attending the luncheon session with Foreign Minister Kozakou-Marcoullis were Minister of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Petros Eftyhiou, Ambassador Andreas Kakouris, director, Division of Cyprus Question and Turkey; Minister Plenipotentiary ag Director-Division of Overseas and Repatriated Cypriots Argyros A. Antoniou, and Androula Laniti, director, Press and Information Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Also in Cyprus, Mr. Miltos Miltiadou, senior press and information officer, Press and Information Office of the Republic of Cyprus, hosted the delegation for a dinner on May 24.

“Our meetings provided us with a very candid assessment of the current developments in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Larigakis. “It is clearly evident that negotiations to seek a just and viable solution to the Cyprus issue since Mr. Eroglu assumed his position have regressed. It is also clear that Turkey continues to be a threat to peace and stability in the region with its bellicose rhetoric.”

He added, “AHI continues to call for the United States to play a constructive role in this process as a member of the UN Security Council and to exercise its influence on Turkey to advance positions that support the rule of law and international law.”

Athens: AHI Holds Meetings with High-level Officials

An audience with President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias and Greece’s Interim Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos and extensive meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were highlights of the delegation’s busy itinerary in Greece from May 27 to 31, 2012. The itinerary also included the 8th Annual AHI Athens Dinner at the Grand Bretagne Hotel, May 30.

“Our meetings covered a broad range of issue topics, including Greece’s economic crisis, the Cyprus issue, and Greece’s relations in the Balkans and with Turkey,” said Larigakis. “We also explored ways in which the Greek American community can strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Greece and the United States.”

AHI met with President Papoulias, Interim Prime Minister Pikrammenos, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Petros Molyviatis all on May 30. Also that day, the delegation met with several directorates of the ministry of Foreign Affairs responsible for various countries and regions, including: Ambassador Yannakakis (Cyprus), Ambassador Touloupas (Turkey), Mr. Kostellanos (FYROM), and Ambassador Aleiferi (North America). Present at these meetings were ministry officials with expertise in aeronautical matters and energy. On May 31, the delegation met with Minister of Defense Fragkos Fragkoulis.

As with the delegation’s meetings in Cyprus, the appreciation for the hard work and dedication of AHI to Hellenic issues was conveyed by Greek government officials.

The itinerary also included meetings with representatives from Greek political parties, including Alexis Tsipras, president, SYRIZA; former Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, candidate with Nea Demokratia and Takis Skandalakis, secretary for Hellenes Abroad, Nea Demokratia.

Moreover, American Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith hosted the delegation at his residency on May 29. Larigakis commended the work of American Ambassador Smith and welcomed the ambassador’s perspective on issues of importance in the region to the Greek American community.

AHI Hosts Gala Affair in Athens, Honors Leaders in Shipping Industry

The Eighth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner was held on May 30. Ms. Angeliki Frangou CEO/Chairman, Navios Maritime Holdings, Inc., and Mr. George Economou, CEO/Chairman, Dryships, Inc., were honored for their professional achievements and contributions to the community. More than 220 AHI friends and supporters attended the dinner at The Grande Bretagne.

“Our honorees have demonstrated excellence in their respective careers,” said Larigakis. “We truly admire their accomplishments and their contributions to society.”

He added, “We are delighted this special event, now in its eighth year, continues to grow. We would like to thank AHI-Greece President Ilias Malevitis and the AHI-Athens Chapter and its president, George Economou, for their hard work.”

AHI Delegation Participants

In Greece, AHI President Nick Larigakis was accompanied by: Kostas Alexakis, member, AHI Board of Directors; AHI-California President Paul Sogotis, AHI Foundation Board Member Gus Andy, and Demetra Atsaloglou, AHI director of media relations and research analyst. AHI Board Member Dr. George P. Tsetsekos, dean, LeBow College of Business, Drexel University, attended the awards dinner and introduced U.S. Ambassador Daniel Smith as the keynote speaker. In Israel and Cyprus, AHI Board Member Leon Andris joined Larigakis, Alexakis, Andy, and Atsaloglou to comprise the delegation.

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) is an independent non-profit Greek American public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.

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For additional information, please contact Demetra Atsaloglou at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.