NEW YORK.- The Hellenic American Political Action Committee (HAPAC), a non partisan, unaffiliated organization that promotes the concerns of the Greek American community, held its Board Meeting in Astoria on Thursday, June 24. Pancyprian Association President, Philip Christopher was the main speaker at the meeting, where the issue of attracting college students and young professional was also discussed.
In December, HAPAC introduced HYPE (Hellenic Youth in Professional Endeavors), a program directed towards and geared for the Hellenic youth. This program, sponsored by the HAPAC leadership, creates a network by which students in high school and college levels can interact with public officials, educators, business and community leaders and be able to expand their knowledge of potential career opportunities. It will empower our youth to realize their ambitions and full potential by placing a network of professional around them at the early stages of their career. Students can draw support and advice from hundreds of successful Hellenes that can assist them to achieve their goals.
The possibility of organizing a TV program operated by the students was also discussed.
Archie Mavromatis, the Executive Director of HAPAC, expressed hope by next year, the internship program to be in place.
Speaking at the meeting, Philip Christopher praised the efforts of the organization, to support and fund raise for politicians who sponsor legislation that affects and fosters the concerns of the Hellenic American community, and help Greek Americans getting involved into politics.
“I strongly believe the more organizations we have, to promote our Hellenic issues in all aspects of the social life in this country, the better it is”, said Christopher, who is also the President of PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee Justice For Cyprus). Using as an example the American Jewish community, he told the audience that it is represented by many organizations. These groups often have their differences, but on the major issues they work together.
“We don’t have anything to envy”, he said, describing the progress made in recent years towards the direction of coordinating the efforts of all Hellenes abroad, through SAE..
Philip Christopher said the 30 year old struggle of the Greek American community for freedom in Cyprus taught as a lot, and helped us to get involved in the American political process.
“We started helping and raising money for politicians who support the Hellenic issues and at the same time to go after our opponents. Without these efforts, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish all these we are proud of, to influence the American foreign policy and help Greece and Cyprus”.
The President of PSEKA also talked about the potential of our community, being second to any other ethnic group in the United States in education and excel in business, science and politics, both on national and local level. One issue of concern, he said, is the danger of assimilation. Mixed marriages make 85% of all marriages in our community, creating a serious problem on how we move forward, without new blood coming from Greece.
“That’s why HAPAC and other Greek American organizations have a crucial role to play”, he added.
Philip Christopher also briefed the board members of HAPAC about the recent developments on Cyprus, after the overwhelming rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the Annan plan.
“The plan was neither fair nor workable and it would be proven not viable. Its provisions were violating the human rights of the Greek Cypriot refugees and they were not consistent with the European Law”, Philip Christopher. The president of PSEKA described the situation as hard.
“We are facing a very hostile environment from the bureaucracy at the State Department, those officials who worked close to push the plan forward and took the rejection personally. But, it is not fair to penalize the people of Cyprus for exercising their democratic right at the referendum”, he said.
Philip Christopher finally said that although we are facing an uphill battle, we should continue the efforts and at the end we will prevail.