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 six-day trip occurred May 13 to 18, 2018.
“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.”
The AHI delegation received multiple briefings from Cypriot and American officials on the Cyprus problem; 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 Obama administration and in the U.S. Congress.
During its stay in Cyprus, May 13 to 15, the delegation met with: U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Kathleen Doherty, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides, Minister of Defense Savvas Angelides, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris, Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis, the chief negotiator for 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 an update on the prospects for restarting the settlement talks,” Larigakis said. “Of course, 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”
The AHI delegation visited Athens May 16 to 18, 2018. In addition to briefings with ministry officials, the itinerary included the 14th Annual AHI Athens Hellenic Heritage Achievement and Public Service Awards Dinner at the Grand Bretagne Hotel, May 18 (see news release).
“Our meetings covered a broad range of issue topics under the scope of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Greece in addition to Greece’s role in the region,” 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 Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Terens Quick, Secretary General for Tourism Policy and Development at the Ministry of Tourism George Tziallas, and Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris. The delegation also met with President of New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
AHI Delegation Participants
On the trip, AHI President Nick Larigakis was accompanied by: AHI Board Secretary Kostas Alexakis, Esq., AHI Board Member Leon Andris, AHI-New York President Louis Katsos and AHI Legislative Director Peter Milios. AHI Board Treasurer Nicholas G. Karambelas, Esq., who also serves as volunteer counsel, joined the delegation in Athens.