At Historic Moment for a Cyprus Settlement Greek-American Leaders Met With Top US Policymakers
Once again, a “Who’s Who” of America’s foreign policy leadership in the US Congress, and other well-known American and Greek-American leaders, assembled this past June in Washington for the Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference, now in its 31st year.
The Conference began with afternoon briefings that featured Cyprus Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots, Photis Photiou, who was also honored at the Conference banquet with the Barbed Wire Award.
Other noted speakers included: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Amanda Sloat, State Department Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, Amos Hochstein, Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States, George Chacallis and Ambassador of Greece to the United States, Christos Panagopoulos.
The first session concluded with a discussion of bilateral relations between Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt and Armenia with remarks from dignitaries including: Ambassador of Armenia to the United States, Tigran Sargsyan, Embassy of Israel to the United States, Deputy Chief of Mission Reuven Azar, Embassy of Egypt to the United States, Counselor Dr. Alaa Abdalaziz and Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States, George Chacallis.
The following day, conference participants met on Capitol Hill with Senators and Members of Congress with jurisdiction over the formulation of policy toward Cyprus, Turkey and Greece, such as: Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who was honored with the Paraskevaides Award, Former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Democratic Leader-designate, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who was honored with the Frizis Award, Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who was honored with the Soil Award, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), who was honored with the Barbed Wire Award, Ranking Member on the House Budget Committee, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Member of the House Democratic Leadership, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY), who was honored with the Soil Award, Ranking Member of the House Middle East Subcommittee, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Greek American Members of the House Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).
The tragic death of Beau Biden just days before the Conference led to a series of schedule adjustments as several policymakers traveled to Wilmington, DE to offer condolences personally to the Vice President at Beau’s viewing and funeral. Conference participants had been slated to attend a White House meeting with key Administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden. Instead, the Vice President’s top National Security Advisors, Dr. Colin Kahl and Dr. Mike Carpenter, briefed participants on Capitol Hill.
Following the day session, conference participants gathered with dignitaries to honor Cyprus Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots, Photis Photiou, with the Barbed Wire Award and White House Communications Director and Former State Department Spokesperson, Jen Psaki, with the Athens/Livanos Award.
Greek and Cypriot government officials who participated in this conference included: Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations, Ambassador Nicholas Emiliou, Mayor of Famagusta, Cyprus / Pres. of refugee municipalities / Former Cyprus Parliament Pres. Alexis Galanos, Mayor of Kythrea, Cyprus, Petros Kareklas and Consul-General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York, Vasilios Philippou.
Heads of Greek-American community organizations who participated in this conference included: President, International Coordinating Committee — Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), Philip Christopher, President, National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), Andrew E. Manatos, President, Cyprus Federation of America, Costas Tsentas, Past President, Cyprus Federation of America, Panikos Papanicolaou, President, Overseas Cypriots (POMAK), Andreas Papaevripides, Executive Director, Hellenic American Leadership Council, Endy Zemenides, Alternate President, PSEKA; Cyprus Federation of America, Tasos Zambas, President, American Hellenic Institute (AHI), Nick Larigakis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, AHEPA, Nicholas Karakostas, Executive Director, AHEPA, Basil Mossaidis, Chairman, Michigan Democratic Party Greek Caucus, Basil Simon, Founding Chair, New Jersey Hellenic American Heritage Commission, Zenon Christodoulou, former President, Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce, Vassos Vassiliou, President, Hellenic Federation of New Jersey, Savas Tsivicos and Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce Chairman Andreas Comodromos.
Stathis Theodoropoulos, Chairman of The Young Professionals of the Cyprus US Chamber
“Coming to the PSEKA conference every year is one of the most important days in giving back to the community. Although many of us younger, emerging leaders from the community may not be from Cyprus we still very much care about these issues. We have Cyprus in our hearts and the fire in our bellies to fight for justice. We understand the stakes so we make sure we do the work in and out of DC to make justice. We are grateful to have guys like Endy from HALC to show us the way and to make it happen.”