Volume 26 Number 221 — Dec. 3, 2000
AHI GENERAL NEWS
MESSAGE FROM AHI FOUNDER
With the elections behind us, I had hoped that the way ahead would be clearer. Regrettably, the extraordinary events surrounding the result (at this time of writing we still do not know the full outcome) have created a period of confusion. All that we can say for certain is that with the presidency achieved on so slender a margin and narrow Republican majorities in the Senate and House, the business of governing and legislating is not going to be easy.
This state of affairs sets up a very interesting challenge for the community. Instead of seeking to score immediate touchdowns, we need to concentrate on moving the ball steadily up the field by working with the new administration and Congress. The incoming administration will be assessing its priorities. Foreign affairs will probably not be high on the agenda. To ensure that our issues do not get lost in the mix, AHI will be taking steps to project them in the most creative way. Our emphasis will be on the potential for progress and the great advantages that the U.S. will derive from settlements in the Aegean and over Cyprus.
On Capitol Hill, we start with some major assets in the form of good connections with both parties and a set of clear forward-looking policies. We want to foster the closest possible relations between the U.S., Greece and Cyprus. These cover all fields such as politics, business, culture, and tourism. We will therefore be emphasizing Greece’s enormous potential for regional leadership and the positive steps taken by Greece toward regional stability. The upcoming Olympic Games provide exciting opportunities for Greek-American cooperation. We will keep the focus on Cyprus at a time when the Cyprus talks are reaching an important juncture, with substantive issues out on the table. AHI’s visit to Cyprus and Greece from November 26¯December 9 in December will provide us with briefings in both countries.
Alongside AHI’s own activities in Washington, I never forget that our greatest strength is in our members. The current political divisions in Washington put new emphasis on the potential for grass-roots activism. Members of Congress will be more than usually open to the opinions of their constituents. It is thus important that we use our nationwide membership to the best possible effect. We have instituted a new process of more frequent mailings to keep you up-to-date. I urge you to consider how you can use these for local action. Please feel free to contact us with any ideas.
May I conclude by sending all of you and your families my best wishes for Christmas and for a healthy and prosperous New Year. I look forward to greeting as many of you as possible at our annual dinner on March 3, 2001.
Eugene T. Rossides
GREEK AMERICANS REELECTED TO CONGRESS WITH STRONG MANDATE
The AHI congratulates the reelection of Senators Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and the reelection in the House of Representatives of Mike Bilirakis(R-9th FL), George Gekas (R-17th PA) and Shelley Berkley (D-1st NV).
In the closest national elections in over a hundred years, these five candidates were reelected by a solid majority of the electorate in their respective states and districts. Their popular reelections means that thy will return to Washington with a strong mandate from their constituents. We wish them luck as they continue their good work for their constituents and for the country as a whole. The American Hellenic Institute looks forward to engaging the legislators on the many issues of concern to the Greek American community once the 107th Congress convenes.
2000 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN
As a service to AHI members and the Greek American community in general during the 2000 presidential campaign, the American Hellenic Institute Public Affairs Committee (AHIPAC) sent letters to all presidential candidates seeking their responses to a questionnaire drawing on three central issues of (1) Greece’s role as the key partner for advancing U.S. regional interests; (2)The search for a just resolution of the Cyprus problem in accordance with democratic principles and U.N. Security Council resolutions; and (3) Turkey’s failure to abide by the rule of law and democratic norms, both in its relations with Greece and Cyprus, and in its domestic affairs regarding minority and human rights.
AHIPAC received a reply from the Gore campaign. The text may be found on the AHI Web site. The highlights are:
AHIPAC Chairman Nicholas E. Chimicles commented:
“We are pleased to receive this response from the Gore campaign. We welcome Mr. Gore’s commitment to a close relationship with Greece and to the search for a settlement of the Cyprus problem. We regret, however, that his statement is very general in nature and that it does not provide specific answers to the questions posed in our questionnaire. This is regrettable. After eight years in office, Mr. Gore should have been well placed to offer concrete responses to our questions.”
AHI also sent a questionnaire to Members of Congress and their challengers. The questionnaire asked six questions of the Candidates on issues of concern to the Greek American community. As a service to the community, the AHI has posted all the results it received on its Web site at www.ahiworld.org. AHI further urges its members and all Greek Americans to review the results to see how their representatives answered as part of a grass roots information campaign.
SENATOR TIM JOHNSON (D-SD) ADDRESSES AHI NOON FORUM AT HELLENIC HOUSE
At the AHI Noon Forum held on June 14, 2000 Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) discussed the Senate agenda for the remaining session of the 106th Congress. He also reviewed U.S. relations with Greece and Cyprus.
Following an introduction by Mr. Manny Rouvelas, partner in Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP, Senator Johnson started his remarks by drawing on his experience as a member of the Budget Committee. He noted that the reality of large budget surpluses had created a philosophic debate between the two parties about the course of public spending. In general Democrats preferred to use the additional funds for infrastructure spending while the Republicans favored tax cuts.
Turning to international affairs, Senator Johnson highlighted his support for Permanent Normal trade Relations with China. He hoped the Senate would have an early opportunity to vote on this issue. He further hoped that in the forthcoming appropriations round adequate resources for the U.S.’ international operations would be voted.
With reference to Greece, Senator Johnson emphasized Greece’s importance in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Europe. Recalling his own visit to Greece in 1999, he stated that his main impression was that Greece was “on the cusp of achieving full economic prosperity and political maturity.” A strong prosperous Greece was in the American interest.
On regional matters, Senator Johnson said that he was encouraged by Greece’s warmer relations with Turkey. He hoped that this would provide favorable conditions for a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Recently he had co-signed a letter to President Clinton urging the Administration to give a high priority to Cyprus. Other signatories were Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Charles Robb (D-VA).
In a lively Q & A session, topics raised included Cyprus, the Aegean, Kosovo and terrorism.
AHI was pleased to welcome among the participants Ms. Chrysa Arapagolou, MP for Thessaloniki in the Greek Parliament, Minister Alexis Christopoulos of the Greek Embassy and Mr. George Chacalli of the Embassy of Cyprus.
SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL EMISSARY FOR CYPRUS AND SPECIAL CYPRUS COORDINATOR VISIT HELLENIC HOUSE
In preparation for the fifth round of proximity talks that started in Geneva on November 1 Special Presidential Emissary for Cyprus Ambassador Al Moses and Special Cyprus Coordinator Ambassador Thomas Weston visited Hellenic House on October 24 to present a briefing on the current status and prospects for the talks. Following the discussion at Hellenic House, Ambassador Weston was entertained to luncheon at the Washington Hilton where he answered roundtable questions on the current status of the Cyprus settlement negotiations.
Both Ambassadors reemphasized the U.S.’ commitment to a Cyprus solution based on pertinent U.N. Security Council Resolutions. In addition, in forthright, off-record remarks, both officials addressed aspects of the current status of negotiations and the potential for success in further proximity talks.
AHIPAC Chairman Nick Chimicles acted as host for the occasion. Other attendees were Minister Alexis Christopoulos and Achilles Paparsenos, Embassy of Greece, Mr.George Chacalli and Ms. Elena Panayides, Embassy of Cyprus, Roger Fontaine, Washington Times, Professor Van Coufoudakis, Dean of Studies, Indiana University Purdue, AHI Counsel Nick Karambelas, AHEPA Public Affairs Director Andy Kaffes, Hellenic American Women’s Council President Dora Hancock, Pancyprians of Metropolitan Washington President Andreas Periclis, other AHI members, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis and AHI staff.
AHI Position On Cyprus: Cyprus represents the founding mission of the AHI. We advocate a settlement based on international law and democratic principles. Full details of the AHI position may be found in the Greek American Policy Statements and the AHI Cyprus Guide which are available on the AHI Web site www.ahiworld.org.
AHI HONORS GREEK COMPOSER MIKIS THEODORAKIS AT AWARDS DINNER IN NEW YORK CITY
On Saturday, June 10, 2000, the AHI honored legendary Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis with its Hellenic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award. The gala dinner, held at the Grand Hyatt in New York, drew over 200 distinguished guests and featured Ms. Thalia Assuras, anchor of the CBS Saturday Early Show, as Master of Ceremonies.
Ms. Assuras opened the evening’s proceedings with a short biography of Mikis Theodorakis’ life, highlighting his work as a composer and political activist. She went on to note the work of AHI in its pursuit of the same ideals of justice, democracy and the rule of law.
Dinner Chairman, Mr. Peter J. Pappas, CEO of P.J. Mechanical Corp., congratulated Mikis Theodorakis and congratulated AHI for its 26 years of dedication to the Greek American community in consistently voicing the concerns and positions of Greek Americans to policymakers in Washington.
Following Mr. Pappas’ remarks, Maestro Peter Tiboris, who on Sunday, June 11 performed the U.S. premiere of Mikis Theodorakis’ opera ELECTRA at Carnegie Hall, presented remarks on “Classical Music Among World Hellenes: Myth or Reality. What is the Future?”
Following this informative speech, the guests were treated to a musical presentation of Mr. Theodorakis’ songs. Performing the selected works were Ms. Stephanie Chigas, mezzo-soprano, accompanied by Ms. Kathy Olsen on piano.
The evening’s main and final event, the presentation of the Hellenic Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. Theodorakis, followed the performance. Presenting the award to Mr. Theodorakis, Mr. Eugene Rossides spoke of the composer who had become “a symbol of democracy and resistance to the 1967-1974 junta in Greece.”
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Theodorakis spoke of the many contributions of Greek Americans to Hellenism. He expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome he has received from so many in the Greek American community since entering the United States.
The Dinner Committee for the event included a number of Greek Americans from throughout the county. Serving as Honorary Chairman was John Rigas of Pennsylvania, the Chairman and CEO of Adelphi Cable.
THE KOKKALIS PROGRAM ON SOUTHEASTERN AND EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE
In an on-going effort by the AHI to provide information on new opportunities for students and scholars alike, the Institute would like to bring your attention to the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The program has greatly enriched the scholarship on this crucial region of the world by sponsoring seminars and conducting valuable research. The program offers 3-4 fellowships per year for masters level study at Harvard. For full details on the Kokkalis program please visit www.ksg.harvard.edu/kokkalis.
AHI QUOTED BY TIME MAGAZINE AND AHI LETTERS IN NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST AND WASHINGTON TIMES
AHI is pleased to have enjoyed some success with the national media recently. On May 22, 2000 Time Magazine quoted AHI as the lead Greek-American organization in the fight against the proposed $4 billion sale of U.S. attack helicopters to Turkey. We have also had three letters published recently in the national media. They are:
Washington Post October 28, 2000
“The Oct. 20 news story “Hastert Withdraws ‘Genocide’ Resolution” revealed an extraordinary setback for American diplomatic credibility.
The Armenian genocide resolution enjoyed broad bipartisan support, and there is academic unanimity about this issue. It is thus extremely disturbing that the Clinton administration has capitulated to blackmail by a foreign state and prevailed upon Congress to accede to that blackmail.
The administration’s weak-kneed surrender to Turkey’s belligerence has sent a clear message to the world: Duress, threats and bluster work.
All those who wish this country ill will duly take note.”
New York Times October 23, 2000
“House Backs Off on Condemning Turks’ Killing of Armenians” (news article, Oct. 20) revealed an extraordinary setback for American diplomatic credibility. Whatever one’s individual views about the Armenian genocide issue, all Americans should be disturbed that the Clinton administration has capitulated to pressure by a foreign state and then prevailed upon Congress to do the same.
The administration’s surrender to Turkey’s belligerence has sent a clear message to the world: duress, threats and bluster work. All those who wish this country ill will duly take note.”
Washington Times September 30, 2000
“Congratulations on your decision to run Elif Unal’s article “Military Fears Breakup in EU-required Reforms” (September 7, 2000). This usefully draws attention to the fact that the Turkish military occupies a highly anomalous position in Turkish governance. Contrary to practice in the U.S. and in all the other democratic members of the European Union which it aspires to join, the Turkish military enjoys a constitutionally-embedded control over foreign and security policy and a pervasive influence over domestic policy.”
As the article points out, the military does not hesitate to use this power either to mount coups or to remove governments of which it disapproves. Today, the military is using its muscle to engineer a purge of the civil service.
These facts show the great distance Turkey has to travel before it qualifies as a democratic country. This is the principal challenge facing Turkey. Some analysts suggest that Turkey’s main problem is Islamic fundamentalism. This is wrong. Turkey’s most important need is for a transition to democracy by placing the military under civilian control. Mr. Unal’s article makes this clear. I encourage you to publish further articles on this theme.”
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY HONORS AHI FOUNDER EUGENE ROSSIDES
On October 16, Columbia University released its football “Team of the Century” naming Eugene Rossides as a member. The citation reads: “Gene Rossides was an outstanding athlete who passed, ran, returned punts and kickoffs and played defense…one of the heroes of the historic 1947 victory over Army, directing the Columbia offense all day and hitting 18 of 27 passes…completed 168 of 323 passes in his career, 52 percent, for 2,632 yards and a record 29 touchdowns…as a senior averaged 20.5 yards per kickoff return and 16.2 yards per punt return…scored five touchdowns vs. Cornell in 1945…1949 game captain.”
In addition to honoring Mr. Rossides, two other Greek Americans were among the twenty-four named to the University’s “Team of the Century.” Ted Gregory ’74, a “brilliant” defensive back and Paul Kaliades ’73, “a celebrated middle linebacker,” were honored with the coveted distinction.
Three AHI interns worked diligently for AHI this summer. They contributed to a number of projects such as the latest edition of the Handbook on United States Relations with Greece and Cyprus, which was just published. They also worked on the 2000 election Congressional questionnaire and regularly attended congressional hearings and other Washington events.
Panorea Nikolopoulou was born in Athens. She has finished law school and is now completing a Masters on international law in France. She is going to work on a second Masters in international business law in London. Panorea appreciated the contribution of AHI to Greek and Cypriot causes.
Mihalis Stephanides is from Louisville. Kentucky and is a senior at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia. He is majoring in political science and plans to pursue a graduate degree in international relations. His father is from Nicosia and his mother is from Tampa.
Matthew Fontaine is a sophomore at the University of Valparaiso in Indiana. He is majoring in political science and foreign relations. Despite the fact that he is not Greek, Hellenic issues have always fostered his sympathy and support. After graduation, Matthew plans to go to graduate school close to his native Arlington, Virginia.
AHI EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ON THE MOVE
Visit to Athens
From October 10-13, 2000, the U.S. Embassy in Athens in association with AHEPA hosted a series of events under the title “Celebration of the U.S.-Greek Relationship.” At the invitation of U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis participated in the events.
Events in Athens included: a joint press conference featuring Ambassador Burns and AHEPA Supreme President Johnny Economy; briefings from Ambassador Burns and Embassy staff; reception with Mayor Avramopoulos; AHEPA reception at the Grande Bretagne Hotel; rededication of the Philhellenes Obelisk and “Plant Your Roots in Greece” tree planting ceremony. The highlight of the celebration was the unveiling of the statue of George C. Marshall followed by an Embassy Reception. Mr. Larigakis also took part in a VIP breakfast and dinner with Ambassador Burns.
Following these events, a conference was held to discuss issues pertaining to the future of U.S.-Greek relations.
Antenna TV Interview
On October 19, 2000 Mr. Larigakis took part in a round table discussion at Antenna TV. Entitled “Hellenes on Capitol Hill,” this was part of a series profiling Greek American candidates for federal office in the forthcoming election. The discussion focused on the importance of the Greek American vote and the significance of the community’s political involvement, the current status of Greek and Cypriot issues, the contributions of Greek American elected officials and the possible effect of the presidential election on foreign policy issues of special interest to the Greek American community. The discussion gave Mr. Larigakis the opportunity to highlight the vital role played by the Greek American community in the political life of the U.S.
The program was moderated by Mr. Tom Ellis, Antenna Washington Bureau Chief and Ms. Alexandra Spyridaki, News Director. The program aired on the evening of Sunday November 5 on the Antenna cable channel.
AHI HOLDS HELLENIC HOUSE FUND-RAISER IN SAN FRANCISCO
On June 25 approximately 100 Northern California friends of AHI attended a dinner fundraiser to support the AHI’s headquarters: Hellenic House. The event was hosted byJim and Kathy Marinos and Jim and Virginia Lagiss, who welcomed all the attendees to the reception that preceded the seated Greek dinner. The Special guest wasDorie Klissas, the Emmy Award winning producer of NBC’s Today Show, who captivated her audience with an interesting and entertaining view of her work with celebrity television anchors.
Dorie has an extensive list of credits. Her many achievements include reporting and producing stories for the nationally syndicated television show, “Business This Morning,” the 1989 and 1990 Economic Summits, the 1985 Reagan/Gorbachev Geneva Summit and NBC’s “Weekend Nightly News.” After her graduation from Harvard, she interned for former Governor Michael Dukakis and at the Greek Embassy in Washington. She was a Rotary Scholar at the Graduate School of International Affairs in Geneva.
AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis also gave a presentation on AHI’s activities and on how its mission has developed in the twenty-five years since its inception. The gala event in Woodside produced approximately $14,000 in donations that will go directly to paying the mortgage on Hellenic House, the AHI headquarters in Washington.
JOURNALISTS TO GREECE
In addition to his public affairs consultancy work for AHI, Jonathan Clarke is also associated with the American Journalism Foundation, the mission of which is to facilitate overseas travel for American journalists. Over the past two years, the Foundation has operated a program in Greece in cooperation with the National Bank of Greece. Under the program 24 journalists from leading U.S. newspapers have visited Greece since its inception.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Keeping the Cyprus problem in the forefront of the policy debate is one of AHI’s key objectives. We closely monitor developments and issues statements as appropriate. On October 4 we issued the following statement:
“On October 4, 2000 the European Parliament voted (483 to 12 with 33 abstentions) to approve the resolution introduced by the Rapporteur of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defense Policy, Mr. Jacques Poos.
The resolution notes the capacity of the European Union to make a vital contribution to the security of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities within the framework of a peace settlement and the demilitarization of the island. It states that the EU can help resolve the problem of the controlled return of refugees and the repatriation of the settlers, and that it can make a dynamic contribution to the development of the northern part of Cyprus, once reunification has taken place. It also believes that the accession of Cyprus will strengthen stability in the eastern Mediterranean.
The resolution supports early accession for Cyprus on the understanding agreed at the December 1999 Helsinki summit that a solution to the Cyprus problem is not a precondition for accession.
The resolution further deplores the lack of goodwill on the part of the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkey in reaching a political agreement on the future of the island on the basis of the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions. It urges the Turkish Cypriot community unconditionally to join the delegation of the legal government of Cyprus. It also deplores the action of Turkish troops in Cyprus who in September illegally advanced troops within the buffer zone in the Strovilia area.
AHI welcomes this resolution, especially its reaffirmation that the accession of Cyprus to the EU is not conditional on the settlement of the Cyprus problem and its call for the settlement to be on the basis of the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions.”
On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus and continuing occupation, we issued the following statement of its position on Cyprus.
“The Cyprus problem has been on the international agenda for many years and most prominently since Turkey’s illegal 1974 invasion. Years of negotiation and international initiatives have foundered on the barrier of the military-controlled Turkish government’s intransigence. The absence of progress damages important national interests of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean and compromises fundamental American values such as rejection of aggression and respect for the rule of law. The time has come for a realistic approach in which the U.S. engages the true issues.
Turkish obstructionism is not the only guilty party. Faulty U.S. policy is also responsible for the damaging failure to produce a settlement. It is time to recognize that the U.S. approach adopted since 1974 of treating Cyprus as a traditional diplomatic problem where ‘meet-in-the-middle’ negotiations involving compromises by each side has failed. Despite compromises made by Cyprus, Turkey has not reciprocated. To break the deadlock, the U.S. must follow a realistic approach based on the fundamentally clear and straightforward issues underlying the Cyprus problem. These are:
TURKEY: EUROPEAN UNION COMPLIANCE and ARMS SALES
On October 1 we issued the latest of our updates on Turkish compliance with the conditions established by the European Union in December 1999 in accepting Turkey as a candidate for accession. AHI believes that it vitally important to focus attention on Turkey’s compliance with these conditions. For this purpose and as an aid for policy-makers in the Executive Branch and Congress, AHI will issue six monthly overviews of Turkey’s compliance record based on events taking place during the period. The analysis may be found on our Web site www.ahiworld.org.
Reports are in that Turkey has selected the American defense contractor Bell-Textron to supply Turkey with 145 attack helicopters for an estimated $4 billion. A contract between Bell-Textron and the Republic of Turkey is expected to be signed and submitted to the U.S. government for the approval of an export license early next year.
Since September 1999, AHI has pursued a vigorous campaign to stop the impending arms sale on the grounds that such a sale will have a destabilizing effect on the entire region, and particularly because of Turkey’s horrendous human rights abuses and past use of attack helicopter gunships against civilian Kurdish populations. AHI, along with human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have vowed to fight the approval of an export license.
AHI has on numerous occasions sent letters to government officials and members of Congress urging them to oppose the arms sale. News reports coming in that Turkey has once again taken up arms against its Kurdish minority in the Southeast is fueling a renewed urgency to stop the deal from going through. Furthermore, according to the European Commission, Turkey has made no progress on its outstanding human rights problems, which many claim are among the world’s worst. In Germany, ruling party SPD president Peter Struck voiced his government’s commitment to block a $7.1 billion tank deal because of Turkey’s human rights problems.
At present, AHI officers and staff are preparing a large grass-roots campaign to stop the deal. By educating the public on the dangers these weapons pose for Kurds and the region as a whole, AHI is confident that the Congress can be persuaded to stop this human rights abomination. Please visit the AHI’s Web site at www.ahiworld.organd click on its “action alerts” page to view more information about this issue.
GREECE AND TERRORISM
Greece has been the object of some sustained criticism on the terrorism issue. While AHI understands the full seriousness of the terrorism problem in Greece, particularly the November 17th group, we took steps to defend Greece’s record by writing regular letters to the administration, Congress and media. AHI applauds the increased level of cooperation between Greek and American law enforcement in the wake of the memorandum recently signed by Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoides and Attorney General Janet Reno. Next year the AHI hopes that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will approve a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Greece that will further strengthen the already productive cooperation between Greek and U.S. law enforcement agencies.
BUSINESS NETWORK AT WORK
AHI HOLDS ANNUAL SEMINARS ON "CYPRUS: AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS, FINANCE, AND SHIPPING CENTER"
In June, the AHI presented its annual seminars on Cyprus: An International Business, Financial and Shipping Center. This year’s seminars were held in two cities: Miami on June 23 and New York on June 28 and 29.
The seminars once again focused on the advantages of Cyprus as an international business center for companies who want to conduct their regional affairs from a business friendly environment. This year’s seminars did add emphasis to Cyprus’ fast-growing banking and shipping industries.
Many of the world’s leading multinationals have expressed their confidence in Cyprus as an ideal location in which to manage their regional affairs. These include Coca Cola Near East, Reuters, Siemens, NCR, Ericsson, R.J. Reynolds, Moody’s, and Smithkline Beecham, to name but a few.
The Central Bank of Cyprus believes that American banks, financial institutions, and American companies in general are not adequately informed of the business opportunities that exist in Cyprus. The seminars gave the opportunity to inform officials of the business opportunities that exist in conducting their international operations through Cyprus.
In the Footsteps of Pericles
On November 3, 1999, Steven J. Corodemus was re-elected to his fifth-term as New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District representative to the State Assembly. Decisively elected by his constituency, which is comprised of 22 Monmouth County municipalities, Corodemus has been a dedicated public servant for much of his adult career.
The son of Greek immigrants from Mani, who imbued a strong work ethic in their son, Steve graduated from Rutgers University and became a lawyer. Soon afterward, however, the young man decided to seek public office because he felt he had the “leadership abilities necessary to solve many of New Jersey’s problems… which consisted mainly of over-taxation, inadequate health care, education and missed business incentives and opportunities.”
In his first term as Assemblyman, Corodemus was elected into leadership by his peers as Assistant Majority Whip for the Republican Party. The following term, his peers once again chose him for a leadership role, but this time as Majority Whip. According to the assemblyman, as a leader you “have to sit like a judge, weighing all the opinions from all sides. You must listen and come up with solutions.”
Presently, Assemblyman Corodemus serves as Chairman of the Assembly Environment Committee, a position which he has held for three terms. He also serves as a member of the Assembly Budget Committee. As Chairman of the Assembly Environment Committee, Corodemus holds a strong belief in protecting the environment. That is why he sponsored the 1992 law that created the Shore Protection Fund, which dedicated $115 million per year to shore replenishment projects in an effort to preserve the state’s coastline.
Balancing strong environmentalist and pro-business views requires patience and dedication, according to Corodemus (he approximates that he puts in about 70-80 work hours a week). Coming up with creative solutions that benefit both industries is what sets Corodemus apart from common special-interest politics. He cites his work recently in mediating a tug-of-war between the environmentalist and shipping community concerning dumping off New Jersey’s shore. Through negotiation and creative diplomacy, he and the concerned parties were able to find cost-effective alternatives to dumping, thereby protecting New Jersey’s important shipping industry and simultaneously protecting the fragile environment of the State’s shores and marine life.
Assemblyman Corodemus has also been a strong advocate for patients and protecting their rights with managed care organizations, which he demonstrated by introducing A-1606, the Health Care Accountability Act of 1998. In addition, the Assemblyman was also the prime sponsor of “A-1 million,” which designated over a million acres of land around New Jersey for open space preservation.
Since taking office, Corodemus has also sponsored and co-sponsored tax relief programs, most notably the $1 billion “New Jersey Saver Program,” which he says have created great business incentives. As a result that state has experienced exceptional economic growth of late, and now boasts the 17th largest world economy, with an annual GDP of $330 billion (roughly 2-1/2 times that of Greece).
In addition to bolstering New Jersey’s domestic trade and homegrown industry, Corodemus is determined to increase New Jersey’s trade with the world. Pursuant to this initiative, Corodemus led the effort to establish a permanent trade representation in Thessaloniki and Athens, Greece. The State of New Jersey is currently the only state in the Union with permanent trade representation in Greece.
Corodemus is confident that through forward-looking and sensible policies, the State of New Jersey will continue its renaissance—expanding business and reclaiming its beautiful ecosystem.
Heating the World
In 1990, a young graduate named Sam Pelonis from California State University came to New York in hopes of starting his career. The young Business Administration major saw his opportunity after meeting with a Canadian businessman who had patented a remarkable new heater. Immediately Pelonis saw the potential for this product in the United States.
A decade later, the company Pelonis formed to market the original, small ceramic home heater has grown astronomically into a mature, diversified enterprise that is among the largest manufacturers in the country for electric consumer heating products, industrial fans and motors. Although Sam Pelonis affectionately states that the 6-inch ceramic space heater that launched his company is still his “pride and joy,” Pelonis USA is now also manufacturing industrial equipment such as oilfield radiators and components for everything from computers to nuclear power plants. As a result, Pelonis USA Ltd. currently has annual sales in the U.S. market of approximately $15 million annually.
In addition, through Pelonis’ personal acumen and business initiative, his company has created a number of joint ventures in markets around the world: in Canada, Australia, Japan, France, Israel, Greece, the Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics. In fact, Pelonis USA was one of the first countries to venture into the newly opened markets after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and as a result, the company is well-known and highly regarded in that industry.
In 1996, Pelonis and his company reached a milestone when some of his heating appliances were selected by NASA to be used on the Space Shuttle Columbia’s launch in for some experiments that were done on the Neurolab project.
The backbone for Pelonis USA, however, has always been consumer heating products. In the home heating market, Pelonis sees a bright future for electric heating products, as rising oil prices and an expected cold winter this year may likely keep many Americans wishing they invested in electricity rather than petrochemicals. After this winter, he says, people will be looking for alternatives. You can learn more about Pelonis USA, Ltd. by visiting them on the web at www.pelonis.com.
Drexel’s Hippocratic Design
The cooperation agreement between MCP Hahnemann University (MCPHU), Tenet Healthcare Corporation and Drexel University brokered by AHI members Constantine Papadakis, Drexel President, and Manuel Stamatakis, MCPHU Chairman, continues to flourish. One of its most recent patients was former president Gerald Ford.President Ford was visited in hospital by then-candidate George W. Bush, at which time he was greeted by Mr. Papadakis.
In two years since the agreement, Papadakis and Stamakis have worked to take advantage of the many possibilities for academic and research synergies between Drexel and MCP Hahnemann universities. The faculty, staff and students at the universities are creating a 21st century standard for medical education by bringing Drexel’s technological focus to the health sciences, a field increasingly defined by technology.
Drexel’s goal is to provide a reliable, state-of-the-art data and video network with a single point contact linking MCPHU, Drexel and the Tenet Philadelphia hospital network. To accomplish this, Drexel installed 2,500 network connections and MCPHU computer users joined the Drexel-based e-mail system. Drexel also outfitted MCPHU administrators, faculty and clinical practices with microcomputers and provided hardware and software training.
Papadakis and Stamatakis are optimistic about the future of this unprecedented alliance. “We have just begun to tap the full potential of the MCP Hahnemann University/ Drexel University partnership,” Papadakis said. “We will continue to work toward our goal of building a new brand of medical education that combines Drexel’s expertise in business and technology with MCP Hahnemann’s excellence in the health sciences.”
Do I Have Some Swampland for You
AHI member John Hondulas of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, has been issued with three U.S. patents for the treatment of storm and waste water in wetland regions. Mr. Hondulas’ revolutionary new design utilizes special treatment containers that actually float on waste water basins. They are constructed so that they retain the soil that is necessary to sustain and nourish wetland plants that are presently endangered by growing wastewater basins. By nourishing wetland plants the containers will also permit the root systems of the wetland plants to grow outwardly into the waste water to be treated. Mr. Hondulas is interested in finding a potential business partner for development of the concept. He can be contacted at (865) 430-1305 or by fax at (865) 430-3800.
Pappas and Pappas—Coast to Coast
On September 7, 2000 AHI member Harry Pappas, Chairman of Pappas Telecasting Companies, recently announced the formation of Azteca America Incorporated, a new broadcast TV network based in Visalia, California focusing on the rapidly growing U.S. Hispanic market. The merger company is a an alliance between Pappas Telecasting, the nation’s largest privately-held owner and operator of television stations, and TV Azteca, the second largest producer of Spanish language programming in the world. Pappas Telecasting will own 80 percent of the new company and Mr. Pappas will be Chairman and CEO of Azteca.
Azteca also opened an office in Washington, DC to handle regulatory affairs. Heading up the Washington office as Executive Vice President will be another AHI member:Peter C. Pappas (no relation to Harry). Mr. Peter Pappas, a corporate attorney from New York, brings a wealth of experience to Azteca. He is a former FCC International Associate Bureau Chief and also a former State Department Director of Communications for Economic Affairs. In 1992 he was member of the Clinton transition team and served at the White House as Assistant Counsel to the President from 1993-1994.
Upon accepting the position offered by Mr. Harry Pappas, Peter C. Pappas said, “participating in the creation of a new nationwide broadcast network, particularly one geared toward a rapidly growing but under-served minority community is a very exciting challenge.”
Muses in the Aegean
Under the direction of renowned conductor and AHI member Maestro Peter Tiboris, the New York-based chamber ensemble, Elysium performed in Greece and the Greek islands as part of MidAmerica Productions’ third annual Festival of the Aegean. The festival took place from July 24 to August 10 in Athens, Crete, Paros and Santorini and included the legendary pianist/composer/conductor Lucas Foss. Maestro Tiboris, the founder of the festival and General Director of MidAmerica Productions, acted as artistic director.
Among the highlights of the Festival was a performance by Lukas Foss and Stanley Drucker of Bernstein’s Sonata for clarinet and piano at the home of U.S. AmbassadorNicholas Burns. Tour venues included the Zappion Public Gardens in Athens, Arhones Festival in Crete, the Church of 99 Doors in Paros, and the Apollo Theater of Syros. MidAmerica Productions is making plans for future Festivals through 2004, the year of the summer Olympics in Greece.
AHEPA FLOAT AT TOURNAMENT OF ROSES PARADE
AHI congratulates the AHEPA Hellenic Heritage Foundation and the hard work of its chairman, AHI member Nick Perdaris, on its third entry into the Tournament of Roses parade. The float is entitled “Birthplace of Democracy.” With the unveiling of the 2001 float, AHEPA is set to continue its tribute to Hellenism and the AHEPA family, building on the positive momentum gained from its two prestigious “Queen’s Trophy” victories in 1999 and 2000.
“Birthplace of democracy” promises to fill all Greek Americans with the same great pride experienced with the first two floats, “Music from the Acropolis” and “Passing the Torch.” The new float recalls the spirit and accomplishments of Pericles and our forefather, and their contributions to the ideals of democracy.
Construction of the 2001 float is complete. The next phase, decorating the float, is scheduled to start the first weekend of December. However, the foundation overseeing the project: the AHEPA Hellenic Heritage Foundation, still needs the community’s continued financial support. Nick Perdaris encourages members to make a donation to: AHEPA Hellenic Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 305, Van Nuys, CA 91408. For instant information please visit their Web site, www.baywalk.com and click on the Rose.
AHI-NORTHERN VIRGINIA CHAPTER HOLDS TWO SUCCESSFUL NETWORKING MEETINGS
On two separate occasions, the AHI-Northern Virginia Chapter (AHI-NOVA) held two successful business networking receptions.
On September 29, AHI-NOVA held a gathering at the home of Mr. Roger Beatty and Mrs. Olga Polemitou. The guest speaker of the evening was Ambassador (Ret.) Patrick Theros, former U.S. envoy to Qatar and former State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, who gave fascinating remarks on the future of Greek American lobbying efforts. The successful meeting drew forty of Northern Virginia’s AHI members and guests, successfully recruiting two more that evening.
On October 27, AHI-NOVA held a second meeting/reception at the home of Mr. Andreas Ioannou. Over thirty people joined that evening to listen to guest speaker, Mr.Vasilios Costis, counselor at the Greek Embassy in Washington give a rousing talk on the future of the Greek economy in light of recent developments, most notably Greece’s admission to the EuroZone and its admission onto the Developed Markets index.
AHI congratulates the hospitality and generosity of the hosts of both meetings and the diligent efforts of AHI-NOVA President Nick Kalis and his excellent officers: Captain (Ret.) Chris Zirps, USN, Nikolaos Papachatzis and Nikolaos Abatzis, without whom the events would never have been such as success.
- Contact Your U.S. Representative to Co-Sponsor House Resolution 187 Condemning Any Attempt to Use the Current Economic Crisis as a Means of Imposing a Settlement on the People of Cyprus
- Contact Your U.S. Representative to Co-Sponsor Resolution Urging Turkey to Respect the Rights and Religious Freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
- Contact Your Congressional Candidates to Urge Them to Complete AHI's Candidate Questionnaire
- Urge Your U.S. Representative to Oppose Pro-Turkey Trade/Investment Bill
- Contact Your U.S. Representatives—Urge Them to Co-Sponsor Congressional Resolution on FYROM Name Recognition Issue
- AHI Submits Letter to The Washington Post; Welcomes Fmr. State Dept. Officials’ Critique of Turkey
- AHI Participates in Historic Three-Country Leadership Mission
- AHI Announces Honorees for 39th Anniversary Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Awards Dinner
- American Hellenic, American Jewish Groups Hail Historic Three-Country Leadership Mission
- The Hill Published AHI President’s Commentary: Congress should back ally Greece on 'Macedonia' name issue
- Leading American Hellenic, American Jewish Groups to Embark on Joint Excursion to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel
- Leading Greek American Newspaper Publishes Three AHI Foundation Student Essays