ATHENS – Mutual expressions of appreciation were in order at one of the concluding functions of the 99th Anniversary Supreme Convention of the Order of AHEPA that was held in Athens this week. The Presidents Reception in the King George hotel’s Tudor Hall was the occasion for honoring U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou, but the honorees, revered and distinguished diplomats, took the opportunity to praise and thank each another, and work of the Order of AHEPA.
Fellowship blended with marvelous views of the Acropolis and the rest of the plain of Attiki as they were bathed in the golden Greek sunset, yet another warm memory of a Supreme Convention that was held in Greece for the first time since 2008.
The elegant rooftop lounge was the perfect setting for the reception – but it was a bit hot, Athens being in the midst of a heat wave. That prompted the good-natured comment by the event’s Emcee, Supreme President George Horiates, to event benefactors Karl and Cynthia Hollister that they should have ordered some more air conditioning.
Karl Hollister, a past AHEPA Supreme President, presented ambassadors Pyatt and Papadopoulou with AHEPA’s George Marshall and Periclean awards, respectively. During his acceptance speech, Pyatt offered warm thanks for himself and on behalf of his wife Mary to Papadopoulou for the latter’s moral support and advice when they first arrived in Athens.
The Presidents Reception in the King George hotel’s Tudor Hall was the occasion for honoring U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and Greek Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou. (Photo by TNH/Constantine S. Sirigos)
His long and distinguished tenure in Athens drawing to a close – during which he developed warm and strong ties with Greek-American organizations like AHEPA – Pyatt was generous with thanks, especially to his administrative assistant Lori McLean for keeping him well-briefed and on schedule for his between 400 and 500 public events over the past five years.
Pyatt emphasized the recent progress in the Greece-U.S. relationship, which evolved into a full strategic dialogue his successful watch, and of Greece, noting that with its recent foreign policy initiatives “Athens has built a new geography pf cooperation” in a turbulent region. He also praised the Mitsotakis government’s response to the COVID pandemic.
Ambassador Papadopoulou revealed that her grandmother’s sister immigrated to the United States, and the Ambassador remembers her talking about AHEPA. She later learned more through friends and personal experience bout the Order’s philanthropic and education endeavors and its support for Greece and Cyprus, for which she thanked them.
AHEPA also spotlighted diplomat Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and the current Lt. Governor of California, who addressed the Grand Banquet the previous evening.