HALC and AJC completed their inaugural joint mission to Athens, Nicosia and Jerusalem
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
In the lead up to the first ever AJC Global Forum in Jerusalem, AJC ACCESS and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) completed their inaugural joint mission to Athens, Nicosia and Jerusalem – affirming the next generation of joint advocacy in support of the American-Hellenic-Israeli partnership.
The group met with numerous senior government officials in Greece and Cyprus, including: the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades; the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides; Greece’s Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunication and Media and former Minister of State, Nikos Pappas; the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, Terrence Kouik; Republic of Cyprus Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou; the head of New Democracy – Greece’s main opposition party – Kyriakos Mitsotakis; and New Democracy’s representative for defense issues, former Minister of Public Order, Vassilis Kikillias.
In both Greece and Cyprus, participants had the opportunity to gain insight into bilateral and trilateral relations and geopolitical issues in the region from the respective U.S. and Israeli Ambassadors.
In an attempt to get a fuller – and not just a political — understanding of Greece and Cyprus, participants also met with civil society leaders (like Alpha TV’s Dimitri Contominas and Katerina Panagopoulou), leaders of Athens’ Jewish community, the University of Piraeus’ Aristotle Tziampiris, members of the press (Tom Ellis and Emi Livaniou), local officials (Mayor of Aradipou, Cyprus Evangelos Evangelides) and the former Greek Minister of Culture Pavlos Yeroulanos (who gave the group a guided tour of the Benaki Museum). HALC’s Executive Director also had a meeting with Prime Minister Tsipras and met with a representative of the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce.
“In the last month alone, AJC and HALC have been on the ground in four countries. Building on the success of joint advocacy in Washington, D.C., the next generation of our leaders gained first hand insight into the realities and challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am confident that the decades of collaboration between our two communities will be taken to the next level by these young leaders,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC.
“Getting to see the line of occupation, the Turkish flag lighting up in the mountains of Cyprus as a taunt to Greek-Cypriots, getting in-depth briefings at the highest levels of government crystallized the issues for them all,” continued Zemenides. “This trip will not only make all the delegates better advocates, it will make them key contributors to the relationships of these countries with the United States and will make the AJC ACCESS members true philhellenes.”
“This visit provided an invaluable opportunity for AJC and HALC’s young professionals to explore thriving partnerships among democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean. On the heels of successful joint advocacy in support of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance caucus, we have a clear understanding on how our partnership is making a difference and where we can make more of an impact,” said Gene Germanovivh, Co-Chair of ACCESS Global.
Menendez tries to
Include Cyprus arms
embargo issue in
US Senator, Robert Menendez, will try to include the issue of ending the Cyprus arms embargo implemented by the US in the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act, Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council has told CNA’s Maria Koniotou, following the meetings in Nicosia with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides and Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou. During his meetings in Nicosia Zemenides and the AJC-HALC joint delegation discussed, inter alia, the arms embargo issue.
After meeting with Photiou, Zemenides told CNA that “before our meeting with the President, Senator Menendez’s office notified me that he will try to include the issue of the embargo in the bill for the National Defense Authorization Act which passes every year. If it is not included into that we already have a bill on this issue,” he added. The bill was introduced recently by Senator Menendez.
Zemenides said that due to the pressure by the Greeks and Greek Cypriots living in the US, the Jewish-Americans, the Senate and the House, the Pentagon and the State Department have begun looking into this issue.
Referring to the meeting with Photiou, Zemenides said that they discussed political issues as the arms embargo and the effort “to put pressure on the US administration to upgrade Cyprus` status as a strategic partner.”
He noted that Greeks and Greek Cypriots living in the US and the American Jewish Committee “are cooperating to bring together the countries and their communities.”
On his part, Photiou thanked Zemenides and his associates for the great efforts they are doing “with a view to promote, through concrete actions of the diaspora – to the extent possible – our interests in powerful decision making centres as those of the US.”
Photiou said that he discussed with the delegations of the Hellenic American Leadership Council and the American Jewish Committee about “concrete actions of our Diasporas in the US.”
He said that such a visit as the one paid today will take place every year in order to discuss important issues regarding the cooperation of the three countries – Cyprus, Greece and Israel – as Energy, security in the region, and other issues.
Photiou said that the trilateral cooperation among the three countries is now bearing fruit on diaspora issues as well, noting that “diaspora is an important tool which brings the three countries together and promotes our interests in the US.”
He noted that cooperation among the diasporas of the three countries is one of the issues discussed in every Trilateral Summit the three countries have.
“It is important in countries as the US where we have powerful organizations of the diaspora to have these people help our countries and promote our interests,” he concluded.