Washington, D.C. .- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
Following the enthusiastic welcome in Chicago, Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras and his delegation were received warmly by the Greek American at the nation’s capital, on Monday evening, during a dinner organized by the Supreme Order of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the American Hellenic Institute (AHI). Ministers of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias, of Defense Panos Kammenos, of Economy Dimitris Papadimitriou, of Digital Policy Nikos Pappas, along with Congressman John Sarbanes, the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to the U.S. Haris Lalakos and Leonidas Pantelidis and the Ambassador of the United States to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt were present at the event, attended by over 300 people, including prominent business leaders and presidents of leading Greek American organizations..
Greece has come a long way, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his remarks. He outlined the country’s medium-term and long-term targets, adding that this was the perfect chance for strengthening Greek-US geostrategic cooperation.
The Supreme President of the Order of AHEPA Carl (Icaros) R. Hollister
Wished on behalf of the organization Prime Minister Tsipras and his delegation successful deliberations in Washington.
“We look forward to seeing the United States-Greece partnership taken to new heights and the AHEPA stands ready to help as the Order has for 95 years… AHEPA is committed to serving as a bridge that ensures the U.S.-Greece partnership flourishes. “
Supreme President Hollister announced that AHEPA has signed an MOU with the Ministry of Tourism to hold the 2021 AHEPA Supreme Convention in Greece, which coincides with the bicentennial of Greece’s Independence.
In his remarks Hollister commend ed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Greek government for maintaining Greece’s steady path of recovery, while also continuing to meet its contributions to our mutual security interests without missing a beat.
“The Marshall Statue, erected by AHEPA on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy, is
a fitting monument to the strength and endurance of the U.S.-Greece relationship. Tonight—and the prime minister’s visit this week—are further testaments to this alliance”, he said.
Citing Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who has described Greece as a “pillar of stability” in its region, President Hollister said Greece is important to the United States’ defense and security priorities in Europe.
“We are immensely proud that despite two unprecedented crises, Greece remains an invaluable, dependable, loyal ally of the United States and NATO partner. Greece is the only European NATO member to fulfill their commitment of defense spending at 2% of GDP annually, even during the economic crisis.
Mentioning Souda Bay, he applauded Greece’s expressed desire to enhance its defense cooperation with the United States. He also commended U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, for his work helping to increase funding for the International Military Educational Training (IMET) program directed at the Defense Forces of Greece, to foster even stronger ties for security, counterterrorism and humanitarian aid missions.
“For Greece to remain a pillar of stability, it must also be on sound economic ground”, stressed Hollister. “The painful reforms the Greek government had the political will to enact are working. Greece’s economic climate is showing signs of stability and rebounding as evidenced by Greece’s ability to issue a Five Year $3billion Euro note in the public marketplace this last July, which was oversubscribed by investors. Additional evidence of this improving economy is also seen by the action of Fitch’s Rating service rising of Greece’s debt rating in August from CCC to B-. Therefore, the U.S. and U.S. companies must continue to lead by example to facilitate and foster significant foreign direct investment in Greece, much like EXIN Groups recent insurance investment which was backed by US investment firm Calamos Investment Management.”
Carl Hollister praised Ambassador Pyatt’s work, saying that during his tenure, we’ve seen a sitting president visit Greece, and now this important visit of Prime Minister Tsipras.
“AHEPA commends the relentless work of Ambassador Pyatt and his excellent team at the U.S. embassy in Athens. We could not have asked for a more effective and dedicated ambassador who represents what is best about America and American values. We are grateful for the access he has afforded us and our colleagues.”
Finally, he welcomed the ongoing, high-level engagement between longtime NATO allies United States and Greece, especially with a new administration here in Washington.
PRESIDENT OF AHI
The President of AHI Nick Larigakis welcoming Prime Minister Tsipras at the event organized by AHEPA and AHI, he said that he is also proud to do so in January 2013, when Alexis Tsipras was the main opposition leader, and his organization was able to introduce him to policy Washington.
You have to deal with very difficult issues in your tenure, something that no one should have to inherit it on the world stage”, Larigakis said.
“You did what you needed to do with dignity; the refugee crisis, the economic crisis are tough for any nation, but a country like Greece, given the circumstances, became much more paramount. “
Larigakis praised business leaders like George Logothetis of Libra Group, for their efforts to help during the refugee crisis.
He told Tsipras that he visits the United States at a very historic time.
“We at the American Hellenic Institute, for 43 years – I for 30 years – have advocated for the U.S. – Greece relationship as in the best interest of the United States. We are American citizens and we promote this agenda. Of course we do believe what’s in the good of the United States is also good for Greece in that part of the world. And just as ambassador Pyatt has said time and time again, it’s not just the geostrategic alliance that exists between Greece and the United States; Greece is a pillar for stability and for projection of U.S. interest in the eastern Mediterranean.”
Larigakis said that Greece is a frontline state for terrorism and geostrategic importance and spoke about the importance of the very critical alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus and the cooperation exists in the United States between the respective communities.
In concluding, Larigakis told the Prime Minister that “We stand by you, because we feel it is in the best interests of the United States what Greece is doing” and he pointed out the strategic importance of Souda Bay for the U.S..
PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS
In his remarks Prime Minister Tsipras told the audience that this is the moment for further enhancing the Greek-American strategic partnership.
“First, we must focus on American investments in Greece, particularly in the fields of tourism and real estate, energy, infrastructure, new technology, agribusiness and the financial sector.”
He characterized as landmark in this effort the United States’ participation at Southeastern Europe’s largest business and trade expo the Thessaloniki International Fair, next September.
“Secondly, we must make clear to our allies and friends, that Greece can only remain the regional pillar of stability and security if its most fundamental security concerns in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean are met.”
As such he underscored the Cyprus Problem, the Greco-Turkish relations and the differences between Greece and fYROM over the name issue.
“We have – and will continue to have – an active policy of resolving the Cyprus issue on the basis of a fair and viable solution outlined in UN Security Council Resolutions.
And we hope that the Turkish side will sit again on the table to continue talks on this basis.
And we have an active policy of dialogue and engagement with Turkey in order to resolve issues and support its European perspective.
And there too we hope that Turkey will sit on the table and continue the exploration talks or discuss Confidence Building Measures.
But it must absolutely clear to all, that we will resolutely protect our sovereign rights in the Aegean against illegal Turkish claims and provocations.
And we will not accept a united Cyprus whose security is guaranteed by Turkey under the threat of military intervention.
And on the name issue, we will continue our dialogue and confidence building as we have. But the path for Euroatlantic integration can be opened for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, when we resolve the issue on the basis of a mutually agreed solution.”
In concluding, Prime Minister Tsipras described these issues important for the future and called on the Greek American Community in these crucial times to extend its extremely valuable support.