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AJC Global Forum 2013 shows stronger Hellenic-Israeli cooperation
On June 2-4, 2013 the American Jewish Committee held its 2013 Global Forum in Washington D.C. The conference that was attended by more than 1500 people hosted a keynote speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry and four foreign ministers, including the Foreign Minister of Greece Dimitris Avramopoulos. In his speech, Mr. Avramopoulos made reference to the closing ties between Greece and Israel, as the only two democracies in the region.
The Greek Foreign Minister praised the blossoming cooperation between Greece and Israel, which aims at promoting stability and economic growth in Greece’s and Israel’s neighborhood in the face of recent upheavals in the region. He said that in the coming months, Greece and Israel were going to build a “network of cooperation” by signing at least 20 agreements. Mr. Avramopoulos came directly from a visit to Jerusalem, where he held direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Other distinguished guest speakers at the conference included the foreign ministers of Poland, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic, the justice minister of Israel Tzipi Livni, as well as several Members of Congress who participated in panels and discussed about security, immigration, foreign and domestic policy. The keynote address at the Forum was delivered by US Secretary of State John Kerry who said that the United States will always protect the security of its allies in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the next few days are critical for jump-starting the peace process in the Middle East.
There was a significant presence of the Greek-American community in this year’s AJC conference. In particular, both AHC Executive Director Alexander Mizan and HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides were present at the conference as well as Andy Manatos of Manatos & Manatos. The AJC also hosted youth members of the Jewish community of Greece.
A presentation was made to attendees at the conference from the newly appointed Ambassador of Cyprus to the US, Hon. George Chacalli, on the fast-developing cooperation between Israel and Cyprus in the field of energy and in particular natural gas exploration in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone. The strong presence of the Greek-American community comes on the heels of increased cooperation between the two communities.
As part of the joint advocacy campaign conducted during the conference, representatives of both communities visited their Congressional representatives jointly and discussed the recently formed Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance (CHIA) and described why it makes sense for the US Government to support closer cooperation between Greece, Israel & Cyprus. The CHIA is a newly formed caucus with the goal of promoting stability in the region by strengthening the ties between the US, Greece, Cyprus and Israel under the premise that the latter three are the only western-style democracies in the Eastern Mediterranean and the only reliable US allies in the region. CHIA was formed in February 2013 as a bilateral initiative and it is headed by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutsch (D-FL).