Washington, D.C. – The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading association for the nationʼs 1.3 million American citizens of Hellenic heritage visited the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Congress and the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus on Wednesday, January 30.
AHEPA President Gus J. James, II, began his day at the Department of State for a meeting with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns, who is also a member of AHEPA. Many topics were discussed, starting with the Visa Waiver Program and Greeceʼs campaign for entry into the system.
Under Secretary Burns acknowledged that Greece is the only Schengen Country currently not included in the program and reaffirmed earlier positive comments in regard to Greeceʼs potential entry into the Visa Waiver program and the need to review their current status.
“AHEPA has led the way on educating the public, US Congress and numerous Federal Agencies about Visa Waiver and its current discussions on expansion.” President James said. “We continue to believe that Greece has met all the criteria for entry into the Program and we continue to believe that Greeceʼs entry will bring mutual benefits to trade, goodwill and trust, for both the United States and Greece.”
President James then informed the Under Secretary about AHEPAʼs planned 2008 Annual Convention in Greece and an informal invitation was extended. Cyprus and Halki were also topics discussed.
Later President James met with Congresswoman Shelley Berkley and Carolyn Maloney. At both meetings, AHEPA President addressed Visa Waiver, the Congressional Hellenic Caucus and AHEPAʼs 85-years of service. President James thanked them both for their continued service for the Greek-American community and offered AHEPAʼs assistance. President James also paid a visit to Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersbergerʼs office and held a brief meeting with the Congressmanʼs Foreign Affairs Legislative Aide.
Finally, President James met with Cypriot Ambassador Andreas Kakouris. Visa Waiver and the Cyprus Problem were the focal point of their discussions. President James offered AHEPAʼs assistance whenever possible.