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The White House Greek Independence Day Celebration
This year’s White House Greek Independence Day celebration began with Vice President Joe Biden welcoming the leadership of Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios and thanking Andy Manatos for creating and maintaining this annual White House meeting of Greek-American leaders with each of the five US Presidents who have served over the last 29 years. Greece was represented by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.
All was preceded by, as it is every year, a private meeting between Archbishop Demetrios and President Obama, along with Vice President Biden.
Manatos said, “Over the years our meeting has enabled crucial information about Greece, Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reach the President’s ear. It has, as well, elevated the stature of the Greek-American community in Washington. Before this, our community had a hard time meeting even with Deputy Assistant Secretaries. Today, all parts of our government follow their President’s lead.
“Hellenes who work closely with us have enabled us to again achieve the seemingly impossible. Although we Greek-Americans are only one out of 250 Americans and the Irish are one out of nine Americans, we are the only two nationalities able to meet with the President each year. This is the result of the combination of a number of factors: our influential Greek Orthodox and Hellenic friends across the country; the close cooperation of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s Father Alex Karloutsos; Manatos & Manatos’ 80 years of inside-Washington expertise, and our firm’s willingness to contribute $5 million worth of free work each year to Hellenic and Orthodox issues; and the participants in the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes.
“We Hellenes have again been able to rise far above the norm as we have in the ancient world, during WWII and the Holocaust, and in our more modern successes in America and around the world,” said Manatos.