13th Athens Awards Dinner Held, Draws Largest Crowd Ever
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 officials with the purpose of strengthening relations and addressing issues of mutual interest. The 10-day trip occurred May 6 to 18, 2017.
“We had a very productive series of high-visibility meetings in Greece and Cyprus,” President Nick Larigakis said. “We accomplished the objectives we set out to achieve, and the briefings we received on issues of importance to the Greek American community were insightful and informative. We thank all of the leaders who took the time to meet with us to discuss these very important issues.”
AHI Works to Address Many Issues Facing Cyprus
The AHI delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the status of settlement talks for Cyprus under UN auspices; Cyprus’ efforts to explore for hydrocarbon reserves in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and on Cypriot commerce and tourism sectors. In addition, there were discussions about raising awareness in the United States of the Missing Cypriots issue. 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 Trump administration and in the U.S. Congress.
During its stay in Cyprus, May 8 and 9, the delegation met with: U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Kathleen Doherty, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, the chief negotiator for the current settlement talks; Fotis Fotiou, commissioner to the Presidency for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots; His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II, Dr. Stelios Nicolaides, director, Hydrocarbons Service, Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism; and Lt. General Ilias Leontaris, chief of the National Guard General Staff, who also hosted a dinner for the delegation at the Officers Club.
“Our meetings provided us with a candid assessment of the current state of the settlement talks and other developments in the eastern Mediterranean,” Larigakis said. “AHI believes Turkey must abandon its demand to retain its guarantor power, remove its 40,000 illegally-staged troops, and cease its provocations, if a just and viable solution for all Cypriots is to be reached.”
Greece: Presentations on Business in U.S., Lobbying Highlight Visit
Extensive briefings with foreign and defense ministry officials, and two AHI presentations in Athens, were highlights of the delegation’s itinerary in Greece from May 11 to 18, 2017. The itinerary also included the 13th Annual AHI Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner at the Grand Bretagne Hotel, May 17, which drew a record number of attendees at more than 400 persons.
“Our meetings covered a broad range of issue topics, including: security issues in the Aegean due to Turkish provocations, Greece’s economic crisis, the Cyprus issue, and Greece’s relations with its neighbors,” Larigakis said. “We also explored ways in which the Greek American community can strengthen cooperation and enhance relations between Greece and the United States.”
The delegation met with President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, May 12, and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, and Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Terens Quick, May 16. Briefings with Greek foreign ministry officials occurred May 17 that included: Ambassador Dimitri Alexandrakis, director, A7 Department for North America; and Desk Officers Lambros Kakissis (Cyprus Directorate), Antonios Papakostas, first counselor, Turkey Directorate; and ministry officials from the Balkans Directorate. The delegation also met with Michael Kokkinos, head of General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad, ministry of Foreign Affairs, on May 11.
Extensive meetings with Greek military officials occurred May 15 that included: Admiral Evangelos Apostolakis, chief, Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS); Lt. Gen. Alkiviadis Stefanis, chief, Hellenic Army General Staff; and Lt. Gen. Christos Christodoulou, chief, Hellenic Air Force General Staff; and Lt. Gen. Nikolaos Christopoulos, chief of staff, HNDGS; Brigadier General Angelos Choudeloudis, director, Public Relations Directorate, HNDGS.
Furthermore, the agenda in Greece included a discussion on tourism with Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, May 15.
AHI Holds Business Forum; AHI President Addresses Two Groups
AHI held a presentation in cooperation with the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the topic, “Navigating the U.S. Business World,” at the Chamber’s Hermes Hall, May 15. AHI President Nick Larigakis presented on the role AHI play in Greece’s successful inclusion in the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) list of qualifying countries. President Larigakis then moderated a panel discussion featuring Nicholas Karambelas, Esq. Sfikas & Karambelas LLP and AHI volunteer legal counsel; and Dr. George Tsetsekos, dean emeritus, LeBow Business School, Drexel University and AHI board member. Karambelas provided in-depth discussion on the topic of “U.S. Court System, Company Law and Import Law,” that included the legal, tax, and banking aspects of doing business in the United States. Dr. Tsetsekos provided a general overview of the current state of the U.S. economy. Constantine Michalos, president, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, provided welcoming remarks. The event concluded with a Q&A discussion.
“AHI thanks the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, its president, Constantine Michalos, and Chamber board member, Babis Moraitis, for hosting this informative event, and AHI looks forward to future cooperation.”
Finally, AHI President Nick Larigakis provided two lectures on May 18. The first, to an audience of more than 50 students at the American Community Schools (ACS) in Athens, on the topic of the “Process of Lobbying.” Larigakis serves as a member of the ACS Board of Trustees. In addition, four Rotary chapters hosted Larigakis as a guest speaker at the Athens Club. Larigakis spoke about AHI’s role in U.S.-Greece relations.
AHI Hosts 13th Athens Awards Dinner
The Thirteenth Annual AHI-Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner was held May 17, The Grande Bretagne. Honorees were: Katerina Panagopoulos, national ambassador of Greece for Sport, Tolerance and Fair Play to the Council of Europe and president, Hellenic Athletic Women’s Association “Kallipateira,” who received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award; and Dimitri Contominas, entrepreneur and chairman of the DEMKO Group, which operates television and radio stations including Alpha TV, who received the AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award. A record number of attendees, 450 persons, attended.
Ilias Malevitis, president, AHI-Greece, welcomed the audience. AHI Foundation President Constantine Galanis and George C. Economou, president, AHI-Athens Chapter, provided greetings.
AHI President Nick Larigakis also provided remarks. He highlighted the objectives of AHI’s annual trip to Greece and Cyprus and updated the audience regarding how AHI programs are successful in keeping the Greek American community’s policy issues at the forefront of policymakers in Washington as well as how AHI programs help to promote Hellenic heritage and support the Greek American community. Specifically, he touched on AHI’s role with Greece’s inclusion on OPIC’s list of countries, AHI’s work with Lexington Institute on the latter’s white paper on the importance of NSA Souda Bay, Crete; and AHI’s collaboration with American Jewish organizations.
President Larigakis also commended the evening’s honorees. In acceptance, the honorees conveyed their appreciation to AHI and to those who helped them to reach certain milestones in life. Each shared their career experiences and personal stories with the audience.
“Both honorees this evening are extraordinary persons—Katerina Panagopoulos and Dimitri Contominas are two very highly accomplished individuals, who not only have enjoyed outstanding professional and business achievements, but who also find the time to give back the greater community through their dedicated charitable and public service endeavors, and for their promotion of the Hellenic culture and Orthodoxy.”
Olga Bournozi of Capital Link served exceptionally as Master of Ceremonies. In addition to AHI-Greece President Malevitis, and AHI-Athens Chapter President Economou, president, AHI Members Katerina Papathanassiou, Sylvia Gavalla and Angelos Karmaniolas; and Panagiotis Madamopoulos-Moraris contributed to the dinner’s success. Also, a special thank you to AHI Member George Mermelas, who provided public relations support and guidance throughout the event.
Among the many dignitaries in attendance were: Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications, and Media Nikos Pappas, Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, and Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris; Lt. Gen. Alkiviadis Stefanis, chief, Hellenic Army General Staff; Lt. Gen. Christos Christodoulou, chief, Hellenic Air Force General Staff; and Vice Admiral Nikolaos Tsounis, chief, Hellenic Navy General Staff; Olympic Gold Medalists Dimosthenis Tampakos (Gymnastics) and Sofia Bekatorou (Rowing); Honorable Ilias Psinakis, mayor of Marathon; and many other business, cultural, academic, government and political leaders.
“We are delighted this special event, now in its thirteenth year, has grown to new heights,” Larigakis said. “We would like to thank the AHI-Athens Chapter for its hard work as well as to our generous benefactors and sponsors.”
President’s Circle: Emirates Airline; Prime Insurance; Village; Alpha Media Group; Gus Andy (La Mer Beachfront Inn, Cape May, N.J.); Jim and Ted Pedas, Washington, D.C. Chairman’s Circle: The American Club, Piraeus, Greece; Dole Hellas, Ltd.; G.C. Economou and Associates, Athens; Constantine and Sophia Galanis, Mexico City, Mexico; Greek Dream, Inc. Sponsors: Dr. George Tsetsekos, Philadelphia, Pa.; Theodore Vakrinos & Helen Abadzi, Alexandria, VA; Navios Maritime Holdins Inc.; Aris Drivas Yachting, Athens; Lockheed Martin; Kapotas S.A.; James H. Lagos, Springfield, Ohio; K. Arvanitis S.A; Hotel Grande Bretagne; Sigmapharm Laboratories, LLC; ATH ENA.
AHI Delegation Participants
On the trip, AHI President Nick Larigakis was accompanied by: AHI Foundation President Constantine Galanis, AHI Board Member Leon Andris and AHI Legislative Director Peter Milios. AHI board members Kostas Alexakis, Nick Karamabelas, and Dr. George Tsetsekos joined the delegation in Greece only.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
For additional information, please contact Peter Milios at (202) 785-8430 or [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website athttp://www.ahiworld.org and follow us on Twitter @TheAHIinDC.