Washington, DC – The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and its affiliated organizations, the Daughters of Penelope and Maids of Athena, commenced its 83rd annual overseas excursion with a two-day visit to Athens, April 12-13, 2011.
During the Athens leg, the leadership of the AHEPA family, comprised of Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas, Daughters of Penelope Grand President Christine Constantine, Maids of Athena Grand President Kiki Amanatidis, AHEPA Canadian President Nick Aroutzidis, and Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, met with Prime Minister George Papandreou, President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias, and President of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Phillipos Petsalnikos on April 13.
In a first for AHEPA, Supreme President Karacostas addressed the Hellenic Parliament’s Special Committee on Greeks Abroad, which was attended by several members of Parliament led by Committee Chairman Ilias Karanikas and Secretary of the Committee Spyridon-Adonis Georgiadis.
The supreme president provided an overview of AHEPA’s role in the community and how the organization has served as trusted bridge between the United States and Greece, the state of the Greek American community, and programs of mutual cooperation to benefit the Diaspora.
At the meeting with the AHEPANS, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed the motherland’s pride and gratitude to the “dynamic and very significant” Greeks abroad, who mirror the dynamism of Hellenism in the countries in which they live.
On the economic crisis, Papoulias noted that the grandfathers of today’s overseas Greeks had once faced a major crisis, but “they overcame it precisely because they had this dynamism of the Greeks”, adjusted, worked hard, created and earned the acknowledgement of the countries in which they lived and worked.
The Hellenes abroad, he continued, “give so much to both their countries”.
“As things turned out, you have two homelands. But because Greece is smaller and poorer, I believe that you love it more,” Papoulias added.
Karacostas, in turn, pledged that AHEPA will make every possible effort to help Greece and Cyprus, noting that he had given the assurance to Prime Minister George Papandreou in their meeting earlier in the day.
In addition, the nine-member delegation received a briefing on U.S.-Greece relations from American Ambassador to Greece Daniel B. Smith at the American Embassy on April 12.
“We have been extremely well-received in Athens,” said Supreme President Nicholas A. Karacostas. “We are grateful to all parties that helped to make this leg of our excursion a fruitful and productive one. We look forward to continuing our work together to further enhance and strengthen relations between the United States, Canada, and Greece.”
The delegation concluded its Athens leg with a roof-top reception hosted by the University of Indianapolis, Athens Campus. The university is AHEPA’s partner for its successful “Journey to Greece” Program for college students.
During their meetings in Nicosia, Cyprus, the members of the delegation were received by the President of the Republic Demetris Christofia, the President of the Cyprus House of Representatives Marios Garoyian, Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou and Archbishop Chrysostomos.
According to an official press release issued by the Foreign Ministry on Friday, during the meeting, Foreign Minister Kyprianou briefed the delegation on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and Greek Cypriot side’s positions on the issue.
During the meeting with Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, they discussed the Cyprus issue and the continuous occupation of Cyprus’ northern territory by Turkish troops. The primate of the Church of Cyprus underlined the destruction of religious and other monuments in the occupied areas by Turkey.
President of the House of Representatives Marios Garoyian expressed his appreciation of the work accomplished by Cypriots abroad and their constant support to the just struggle of the people of Cyprus to reunify their homeland, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
An official press release states that Garoyian, who met with the AHEPA delegation, headed by Supreme President Nicholas Karacostas, briefed them on recent developments in the Cyprus problem.
He expressed his disappointment for the poor results of the ongoing negotiations between Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Dervis Eroglu despite the Greek Cypriot side’s sincere efforts.
Garoyian said that the current stagnation at the negotiating process is due to the intransigence of the Turkish side whose demands fall outside the agreed framework of negotiations and point to a confederal solution on the basis of a so-called new partnership.
Both Karacostas and Supreme President of AHEPA Canada Nick Aroutzidis assured Garoyian of their steady and continuous support to the struggle of the Cyprus people to reunite their country.
On his part the House President wished them a successful continuation to their extremely significant work and promised that the House of Representatives will support them in any way possible.