May 9 2019, Athens, Greece
Strengthening US cooperation with Greece and Cyprus is one of the main pillars of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI). For the past 15 years, the AHI Athens Awards Dinner has served as an effective platform towards this end highlighting AHI’s work and honoring individuals and organizations which have been instrumental in strengthening Greek-American cooperation. The event takes place every May at the Grand Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma Square. Every year AHI has the pleasure and honor to host over 300 guests including representatives of the Greek government, key officials, members of Parliament, leaders of Greece’s main opposition democratic political parties, Ambassadors and Embassy officials of nations friends and allies of Greece and the United States, Greek business community, renown academics, AHI sponsors, friends and supporters.
The 15th Anniversary of the Athens Awards Dinner, took place on May 9, 2019. AHI Board Member and attorney Dr. Athina Balta was the Master of Ceremonies. Presiding over the event, Dr. Balta introduced the three distinguished honorees of the evening, Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, represented by Simos Anastasopoulos, and AHI Greece Honorary President Emeritus, Ilias Malevitis well as the speakers of the evening, Athens Chapter President George Economou and AHI President Nick Larigakis, who on May 6, 2019 was awarded the Medal of Honor and Valour for his work to strengthen US-Greek defense cooperation by the Minister of National Defense, Evangelos Apostolakis.
Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was honored for his exceptional work to strengthen cooperation between Greece and the United States by receiving the “AHI Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award.” Ambassador Pyatt’s notable contributions towards this goal include: making the United States the honored country at the Thessaloniki International Fair, brining US investments in Greece and his tireless work leading to the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue launched in December of 2018 in Washington, DC. In his remarks after accepting the award Ambassador Pyatt highlighted AHI’s work under the Leadership of President Larigakis. “AHI has been advocating for Greeks and Greek-Americans for almost half a century, promoting Greek public policy issues and highlighting the contributions of individuals and institutions to their communities.” “I also want to recognize in particular AHI’s and Nick’s leadership in highlighting the defense and security aspects of our relationship, including their essential advocacy to support our IMET and security assistance programs, and the open door that AHI has offered to Greek military leaders visiting Washington.” “Thank you, Nick for all that you do to strengthen the ties between the United States and Greece and to bring our peoples closer together.”
The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, represented by Simos Anastasopoulos, received the “AHI Hellenic Heritage Public Service Award” for its efforts to strengthen ties between the business communities of the United States and Greece. “AmCham, said President Larigakis, “is an indispensable resource for those involved in business, a driving force behind solidifying Greece’s position as an integral commercial and political ally of the United States.”
AHI Greece Honorary President Emeritus, Ilias Malevitis, received the “AHI Hellenic Heritage Appreciation Award” for his service to AHI. “Malevitis,” said Larigakis, is an “author and public servant who has demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to promoting Hellenism.” “This event”, President Larigakis said, helps to honor Hellenism, because it is more than an ideal, it is a living, breathing spirit whose vitality and impact is measured by achievements and contributions of individuals and organizations in our communities and societies, and the three outstanding honorees tonight personify these attributes.”
Key individuals and stakeholders honored AHI with their presence including: Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgos Katrougalos; Minister of National Defense Evangelos Apostolakis; George Koumoutsakos, Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament with New Democracy; Giannis Maniatis, Member of Parliament with PASOK/Kinal(Movement of Change); Gen. Christos Christodoulou, Chief of the General Staff; Lt. Gen. Georgios Kampas; Chief of the Hellenic Army Staff; Vice Adm. Stylianos Petrakis, Commander in Chief of Hellenic Fleet/on behalf of the Chief of the Hellenic Navy; Major Gen. Ioannis Gontikoulis; Deputy Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff/on behalf of the Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff; Irit Ban Abba, Ambassador of Israel to the Hellenic Republic, Aliki Paschali Zinon, representing the Ambassador of Cyprus in Greece, Ambassador Elisavet Fotiadou, A7 Directorate of North America of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs; an AHEPA delegation led by Supreme President George Loukas and Executive Director Basil Mossaides, Dr. Stamatis Krimizis, renowned Greek scientist in space exploration, Movie Producer George Elias Stephanopoulos.
The evening was made possible due to the generous support of AHI’s sponsors. The Grand Benefactors of the event were, Mrs. Katerina Panagopoulos, Ambassador Ad Honore, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Greece for Hellenic Diaspora, Mr. Dimitris Kontominas and Alpha TV as well as Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment. Mr. & Mrs. Isidoros Garifalakis and Family of Vancouver, WA as well as Lokheed Martin were Benefactors of the event. The President’s Circle comprised of G.C. Economou and Associates, Athens, Greece, James H. Lagos, Springfield, OH, Jim and Ted Pedas of Washington, DC, and The Emirates Group. The Chairman’s Circle entailed EFA Group, Greek Dream Inc., Constantine and Sophia Galanis of Mexico City, Tsakos Group of Companies, and Navios Maritime. The American College of Greece, Hotel Grande Bretagne of Athens, Greece, Kapotas SA, K. Arvanitis S.A., and Trikalinos Co rounded out the list of sponsors.
AHI’s is grateful to the Athens Chapter members for their work and service: President George Economou, Vice Admiral Vassilios Kyriazis, Administrator Sylvia Gavalla, and Board Members Katerina Papathanassiou and George Mermelas as well as AHI Board Member Kostas Alexakis who also attended the event. Special gratitude to the international soprano, Anastasia Zanis who performed the musical interlude during the event.