NEW YORK.- by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Pancyprian Association of America honored with the prestigious 12th Annual “Freedom Award”, the Greek American CIA Director, George Tenet, for being the highest ranking Greek in the Bush administration and a role model for our Community. The event took place on Saturday, during a gala black tie dinner held at the New York Hilton Hotel.
Speaking in front of his 85 year old mother Evangelia and his twin brother, Dr Bill Tenet, a famous cardiologist, CIA director stressed that he owes everything to his family, his Greek heritage and his religion.
“The past 22 months have been tough”, he said. “We had 9/11, the War in Afghanistan, we have an ongoing war against terrorism, we are on war in Iraq. And people come and say to me, Mr Director how do you cope with the stress, how do you balance all the equities, how not let the criticism bother you? I have a very simple answer; it’s not an answer that is in any textbook. The answer lies in being blessed by a great family, by a great heritage, a great culture, and a great religion.”
Speaking on the same tune, he said, that he comes from a community of Greek Americans who gave him great strength and honor.
Philip Christopher, president of the Pancyprian Association and PSEKA, mentioned the close ties George Tenet kept with the Greek American Community. He started working as a bus-boy at his fathers Scoby’s Diner in Little Neck Queens, he played basketball at the St Nicholas Church team in Flushing and after he graduated Columbia University, he worked for AHI, in Washington DC, promoting Cyprus issue to the members of Congress.
Philip Christopher, along with Cyprus Federation president, Peter Papanicolaou, the event’s chairman Nicos Mouyaris, ambassadors Erato Kozakou-Marcoulis and Adamantios Vasilakis and Andy Manatos from the Coordinated Effort, praised George Tenet for being helpful and offering the right direction to the community.
Comparing the situation in the Middle East (with which he is actively involved) to the one in Cyprus, George Tenet explained that even though what has been in stake there maybe more visible, it is not less important than what the people of Cyprus need and deserve. In both situations, he said, we want people to live secure in the knowledge that they can live in their homes safe and educate their children and they can reunite with their families. Nothing more, nothing less. And nearly after thirty years it is not too much to ask. Indeed it has been far too long”, he stressed.
George Tenet expressed his admiration about all the people of Cyprus for their courage and vitality, for their great spirit and prudence.
“I am proud to receive an award from an organization of men and women, many life long friends of mine, that honor me tonight”, he said.
After telling the audience how his mother escaped from Southern Albania, just as the wall was closing and the iron curtain was coming down, he said:
“Vorioipirotes understand Cypriots, believe me, they understand pain and suffering”.
George Tenet paid tribute to some Greek Americans who were his role models when he first arrived in Washington DC.
“I had John Brademas, Paul Tsongas and I had Paul Sarbanes. I worked with Eugene Rossides who worked on the Cyprus issues. I looked at these men and I thought, these are giants and I wanted to be like them. John Brademas, I want to thank you for giving me a role model. Because these men proved to me that life in public service is an honorable thing to do for as long as you get up every day and try to do good for men and women”.
George Tenet and his brother Dr Bill Tenet, threw the numerous CIA agents in disarray, when they started dancing “zeibekiko”. The more than 600 people at the room stood up and started clapping at a popular song that praises people named “George”.