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Ahepa Chapter 31 Organizes Lecture By The Ambassador Of Ireland
The AHEPA Washington Chapter 31 organized an interesting and informative lecture by Michael Collins, Ambassador of Ireland to the United States. The lecture was held at Saint George Greek Orthodox Church and was attended by AHEPANs and non AHEPANs, including representatives from the Embassies of Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania and Poland. Anastasios Vassilas, the Chapter President, extended an invitation to the Ambassador on the occasion of Ireland’s Assumption of the Presidency of the European Council. He was requested to speak on the Ireland’s Program for the European Union and on the economic and political challenges currently faced by the twenty-seven member Union.
Following a few opening remarks by Mr. Vassilas, the Chapter Vice President Efstathios Balatsos introduced the Ambassador to the assembled guests by outlining the salient assignments in his diplomatic career. In his articulate remarks Ambassador Collins displayed exceptional diplomatic skills, an in depth familiarity of his country’s economic “miracle” as well as a thorough appreciation of the economic and political challenges that Ireland will face during the forthcoming six months in the reins of the European Union.
Ambassador Collins opened his presentation by noting that his country of 4.5 million people can claim 40 million descendants throughout the world. He outlined the serious national debt burden faced by his country in the recent past. He pointed out that this is similar to the economic predicament currently faced by Greece, which he felt the country would overcome. Apparently many Irish Banks collapsed when property values decreased to 60% of their pre-crisis values. Further deterioration was averted with the intervention of the European Community Bank which provided financial support to the Banks. Ambassador Collins emphasized that none of the Irish debt holders were required to suffer “haircuts” of their holdings.
The presence of more than 1000 American Companies doing business in Ireland was a most interesting remark offered by Ambassador Collins who stressed that their presence created 80,000 Irish jobs. He noted that his country has promoted foreign investments by providing a favorable environment for companies to relocate in Ireland. On the other side of the coin he noted that Irish companies operating in the United States have created 100,000 jobs!
Following conclusion of his remarks, the ambassador entertained a number of questions from the audience which generated further comments and observations. The Chapter President thanked Mr. Collins for his incisive and interesting presentation. Chapter 31 then hosted a brief reception which gave everyone an opportunity to interact and to enjoy further discussion and good fellowship.