Greek Americans of New York give a big welcome to Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek Americans of New York gave an enthusiastic welcome to Illinoisʼ State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, at a fundraiser organized on Thursday, by prominent community leaders, at the Atrium of the Onassis Cultural Center in Manhattan. The amount of money collected is in the $400,000 range, thanks to the $25,000 donations of more than twelve Greek American businessmen.
During his New York visit, Giannoulias met with Archbishop Demetrios and other Greek American leaders. Also present at the event were his mother Anna and brother Dimitris and George Giannoulias.
At the age of 30, Alexi Giannoulias became the youngest State Treasurer in the nation when he was elected to office on November 7, 2006. An economist employed in his family business and a former basketball professional player that played in Greece for Panionios, Giannoulias is seen by every member of our community as the best shot Greek Americans have to see one of our own at the White House.
Alexi Giannoulias is chairing the Greeks for Obama National Committee and if the African American Senator of Illinois and his mentor wins the November elections, he is favored to be appointed Senator, paving his was for much higher endeavors.
Michael Jaharis, a Greek American billionaire and Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council speaks very randomly in public about public figures. Last Thursday he spoke very warmly about a breakfast he had two years ago with a very young man from Illinois, recommended to him by father Alex Karloutsos.
“All he was talking was about a Senator that I havenʼt heard of, Barack Obama. Listening to him I saw his strength and his character. And my instinct told me that Alexi Giannoulias would do a lot and I know that he has already accomplished a lot.”
Jaharis praised the role of the Hellenes and Hellenism in our civilization and the western world and expressed hope that everyone must make sure that Alexi Giannoulias is well supported, “because he has a chance to accomplish much more.”
Philip Christopher, president of PSEKA, said that in Alexi Giannoulias he sees an opportunity like in 1988 with Mike Dukakis, to rally Greek Americans in collective action to reverse the illegal occupation of Cyprus.
«Your number one priority if you become the President of the United States is to make sure Cyprus will become again free”, Philip Christopher told Mr. Giannoulias.
Christopher also expressed hope for Senator Obama to win the presidential election and Giannoulias to be able to influence him on Cyprus and the other Greek national issues.
Giannouliasʼ political director Endy Zemenides presented the Illinois State Treasurer to the audience.
“I believe in this guy”, Zemenides said. “He makes us all proud, for all he does not only as State Treasurer, but for the Greek causes”.
Cyprus Federation President Peter Papanicolaou introduced the Greek American leaders that attended the gathering.
In his speech Giannoulias he spoke about his family and the role his mother and late father played in his life.
“They came to the United States from Greece and they believed in the American dream. Because their strength and hard work I was able to become a proud Greek American, proud for my heritage and the youngest ever State Treasurer.”
Giannoulias expressed his gratitude to the Greek American community to rally behind him in the elections and give him the strength and courage to win.
“I not running to be something, but I am running to do something”, Gianoulias said, promising to work very hard to make the Greek Americans proud of him.
“I am very proud when traveling around the country and having behind me the power of the Greeks, the most wonderful community”, Giannoulias said.
He also spoke warmly about the Greek national issues and he stressed the need the new generation of Greek Americans to remember and fighting for them.
Speaking to the Greek American press after the event, Giannoulias expressed his admiration about Senator Barack Obama and the positive effect his election will have to our issues.
“Obama has been there so far, wherever we asked him. Whether is the Patriarchate, or Macedonia. We havenʼt really asked him for too much yet. I donʼt want to speak for the Senator, but I will tell he has always been willing to listen. He has always believed in the Rule of Law, especially in the issue of Cyprus. I am confident he will continue to be with us on Greek issues. He has been a great friend to the Greek Community and we often talk we with him of the need to bring Greek Americans in the broader politics and lifting them up. The truth of the matter is, if there werenʼt for Senator Obamaʼs support in my candidacy, I wouldnʼt have never won and we had never have a State Treasurer in Illinois thatʼs Greek.
To me is very important is to help Greek candidates that have not a chance to winning to get elected. And the fact that I am here today is because of Barack Obama.”
Speaking about the organization Greeks for Obama that he is chairing, he said that they are still try to organize things, especially now that Eleni Tsakopoulos – Kounalakis came on board..
“Eleni Tsakopoulos has done so much for too many Greek candidates. To have her on board is really beneficial”.
Eleni Tsakopoulos was the chairperson of the Greek Americans for Hillary Committee and during the primaries, both her and Giannoulias promised each other to join forces for the victory of either candidate, in the November elections.
“This administrations was a disaster both for foreign policy and the domestic issues, like the economy and the environment.”.
Giannoulias points out that we has recently visited Greece for his brotherʼs wedding, all the people he spoke with were excited about the prospect of Obama becomes the U.S. President.
“He is going to be good for the country, for Europe and the whole world. He represents something new. He represents change in the administration and in policies and the perception that America can do better. I am very hopeful he wins”.
Alexi Giannoulias expressed his disappointment for the failure o Senator John McCain to offer an adequate to the Greek American concerns about the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey.
“Itʼs dishearten that he goes and meets with the Archbishop and refuse to answer any questions one way or another. To me is very disconcerting. But, once again, to me he represents George Bush policies. We need a change and someone who is going to look at foreign policy different, at the economy different, someone who is going to help people throughout the country to have better lives but also some one outstanding in Global level.
People in Greece and in other countries are not excited about John McCain but they are thrilled about the potential of Barack Obama bring fresh ideas and a new spirit of leadership in the White House.