Greek Embassy’s Official Independence Day Celebration Held in Houston

Consul of Greece Ioannis Stamatakos, Nike Luqman from the Mayor’s Office of Trade and International Affairs, and Ambassador Haris Lalacos. (Photo by Elias Neofytides)

HOUSTON – Greek Ambassador to the United States Haris Lalacos declared, “this year, the annual reception for March 25th of the Embassy of Greece is not taking place in Washington, it’s taking place here,” in Houston.  

With that, Ambassador Lalacos opened the Greek Embassy’s official Independence Day celebration at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  

Lalacos and his wife, Anna Michalopoulou, were hosted by the Consul of Greece Ioannis Stamatekos and over 200 Houstonians in a joyous celebration.  

Mayor Sylvester Turner sent a representative to present a Resolution officially declaring March 25, 2019, Greek Independence Day in Houston. Numerous Consuls from other nations were also in attendance, as well as Robert Hopkins of the U.S. Department of State. 

“We all know that democracy was born in Athens, and we are very proud of it,” Lalacos said, “however, the first modern national state to be a democracy was the United States. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the teachings of the founding fathers of America were the inspiration for the founding fathers of Greece…for what would become modern Greece.”  

Lalacos continued, “Greece and the United States have been friends and allies since their foundation as modern states…they have never been on opposite sides of any war or any conflict.” 

Consul of Greece Ioannis Stamatakos, Ambassador of Greece Haris Lalacos, and his wife Mrs. Anna Michalopoulou, and Hellenic Attaché for Maritime Affairs Koutsodontis Nikolaos. (Photo by Elias Neofytides)

Lalacos assumed the duties of Ambassador to the United States on June 27, 2016. His prior postings include Skopje, Alexandria, Ankara, and Sydney. From 2000 to 2004, he was the Counselor for Political Affairs at the Embassy of Greece in Washington. 

Prior to his service in the Hellenic Navy, he received his formal education in the United States, first earning a Bachelor’s degree in History magna cum laude from Amherst College in Massachusetts, and then a Masters in International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at The John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.  

While Greece’s founding fathers looked to America for democratic leadership 198 years ago, today, Ambassador Lalacos was in Houston seeking energy technology leadership as Greece emerges as an energy producer and energy transportation hub for the Eastern Mediterranean.  

Now that the seven-year long economic depression appears to be behind Greece, Lalacos noted, “the Greek outlook is positive, but we have many things to still do.” 

In order to address unemployment, “we need help from our friends,” Lalacos continued. 

“The help that we need is not grants, its investment; mutually advantageous, profitable investment,” the Ambassador said with passion. 

We cannot rely on growth based on consumption. We cannot rely on financing of growth with loans. Those days are over. What we need to have is investment.” 

Besides the opportunities for technologically savvy onshore and offshore energy infrastructure development, the Ambassador said, “when it comes to investment, the greatest asset [of Greece] is its well-educated workforce.”   

Looking around the room at the many Greeks now living in Houston and working in the energy industry and academia, Lalacos invited them to return and share their knowledge and experience with the equally well-educated, but unemployed, men and women who remain in Greece.  

March 25, 1821, marks the date modern Greece declared its independence. Actual political independence came almost ten years later. On March 25, 2019, Ambassador Lalacos challenged Houston and America to invest funds, technology, and knowhow, so that Greece will someday become energy independent.  

Crowd at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Houston, Texas. (Photo by James Cargas)