WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) applauds the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) for a policy shift backed by AHI that states the “independent” U.S. government agency can do business in Greece and commends the efforts of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues for their advocacy and Co-Chair, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), for her staunch backing of this important shift in OPIC’s policy position.
According to OPIC’s fact sheet, OPIC is authorized to do business in Greece if there are “strong development or foreign policy reasons to proceed.” In an August 2015 letter to AHI, OPIC President/CEO Elizabeth Littlefield indicated OPIC’s priorities, per its statutory mandates, were for “low-income countries and those in Africa and Asia in particular.” For nearly two years, AHI pressed Obama Administration officials and members of Congress on the fact that precedent existed for OPIC to operate its programs in EU countries when economic conditions and policy reasons support the need. AHI cited OPIC’s work with Portugal and Malta along with Northern Ireland and other central European countries.
“OPIC’s policy shift sends a strong message of support from the United States to Greece,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “We sincerely thank the administration, which has had high-level engagement on Greece’s economic crisis, for clearly stating Greece’s eligibility for assistance from OPIC. We are also deeply grateful to Congresswoman Maloney, whose diligence and steadfast commitment to this issue contributed to this policy success.”
In April 2015, AHI wrote to OPIC, an “independent” government agency that provides financial products, such as loans or guaranties; or support for investment funds that help American businesses expand into foreign markets, requesting OPIC’s support and assistance for Greece with its economic crisis by engaging in Greece where OPIC has been mostly inactive.
Subsequently, President Larigakis and AHI officials met with three OPIC officials and the staff of the Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs. In addition, AHI held a November 2015 forum, “Greece Moving Forward,” that included discussion of OPIC by Congresswoman Maloney.
AHI also raised OPIC at a roundtable discussion with White House officials held in August 2015. Following the meeting, Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Congresswoman Maloney and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) released a co-authored letter to OPIC President Littlefield requesting the agency be allowed to operate in Greece.
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think-tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.