BOSTON – Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship and former Minister and Member of the Greek Parliament, will be the Grand Marshal at Boston’s Greek Independence Day Parade on Sunday, April 7.
In an interview with The National Herald, Vasilios Kafkas, President of the Federation of the Hellenic-American Societies of New England, which organizes the parade, said that, “Mr. Avramopoulos accepted gladly the invitation of our Federation…he is connected with Boston and has visited the city many times. When he was mayor of Athens he donated the statue of Alexander the Great which was placed by the late mayor of Boston Thomas Menino in Alexander the Great Square in Roslindale near the St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church.”
Kafkas also said, “Mr. Avramopoulos will be present at the Gala Diner of the Federation on Saturday, April 6 where he will deliver greetings. The next day, Sunday, he will also be present at the Doxology in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Boston and from there he will go to the parade as Grand Marshal.”
Asked for the reasons why the Federation has declared that Greek government officials are not welcome this year at the parade and why no invitations were sent, Kafkas said, “we sent invitations last year and nobody came. It was a unanimous decision of the Federation not to invite anybody because the Greek government ignores us completely. On the other hand, there is disappointment over the Prespes Agreement regarding the name of Macedonia, as well as their weak actions regarding the ethnic and human rights issues in Northern Epirus. We follow the issues very closely, we are very disappointed. Of course we don’t vote.”
When Kafkas was asked if something similar had occurred in the past, he said, “not as far as I know. They have to realize in Greece that the Greek-American Community is the greatest ally of Greece. We are volunteers, we leave our jobs, our families, we contribute monetarily and we are trying to do our best to maintain strong ties with Greece and to transmit to our children love and the respect for Hellenism, the language, and the Faith. We raise the Greek flag in state houses, in city halls, in the main streets of Boston, and at the UN. We are not fascists as some Greek officials say.”
When we asked about what he would do regarding Terens Quick, the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs who is in charge of Greek Diaspora issues and who had sent him a message saying that he will come to the parade and to the other events presented by the Federation, Kafkas replied that “all are welcome to attend the parade, but we are not going to send any invitation for anyone to be here officially, especially to Mr. Quick. He had come to Boston and we met him at the Mt. Auburn cemetery in Watertown. Another time we met with him at the airport and at some point he lost control during our discussion. Recently he returned to Boston and he went again to the cemetery, as we were informed. If he wanted to cooperate, he would have informed us. Unfortunately he didn’t, so what is he going to do at our parade?”
Regarding the preparations for the parade, Kafkas said, “we are doing well thank God. We all expect to have another success this year provided that the weather is good.”
Representatives of the Federation are visiting various states and cities in New England to inform the local Greek-American communities about the parade and the related activities and to distribute parade material. The next general meeting for the parade will take place on Wednesday, March 27 at 7:30 PM at the Maliotis Cultural Center in Brookline and all are invited to participate.
Dimitris Avramopoulos a former career diplomat also served as Mayor of Athens in 1995–2002. He was born in Athens in 1953, into a family which had originally come from Ilia and Elliniko in Arcadia.
He and his wife Vivian have two sons, Filippos and Iasonas. Apart from his native Greek, he speaks English, French, and Italian fluently.