GR US

Raptakis Takes Helm of Presidency of World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association

The National Herald

Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis making his remarks at the Greek Independence celebration at the Statehouse. Photo: Courtesy of Senator Leonidas P. Raptakis

COVENTRY, RI – Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis on April 12 pledged to expand the ΠΑΓΚΟΣΜΙΑ ΔΙΑΚΟΙΝΟΒΟΥΛΕΥΤΙΚΗ ΕΝΩΣΗ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΣΜΟΥ (Πα.Δ.Ε.Ε/ PADEE) /World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA) mission, making the organization an essential resource for connecting Hellenes worldwide and building stronger communications between members.

The re-organization of the PADEE/WHIA Board of Directors took place on April 9, via Zoom, and included the election of two additional members, Eleni Petinos of the New South Wales Parliament in Australia and Nicole Klerides Ditria of the Connecticut House of Representatives in the United States.

Raptakis had served on PADEE/WHIA’s board as 1st Vice-President and Ontario, Canada MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos served as 2nd Vice-President. Both were elevated automatically per the by-laws of the organization due to the election loss of former President of WHIA Peter Katsambanis as a member of the Western Australia Parliament representing Hillarys. Steve Georganas, a Federal MP from Australia, was elected to serve as the new 2nd Vice-President and Stephan Pappas, a Wyoming State Senator from the United States and current Board of Directors member, was also elected Treasurer.

Other members of the PADEE/WHIA Board of Directors are Nova Scotia Finance, Trade and Business Minister and member of the Nova Scotia Legislature Labi Kousoulis of Canada, Vagelis Haritatos- Deputy Minister for Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and a Member of the National Assembly of Zimbabwe for Muzvezve, and Dragos-Gabriel Zispol- Federal member of the National Parliament of Romania.

“This organization is a meaningful resource for its members in this age of global communications and it will promote strong relationships between the countries that we are elected from and with Greece and Cyprus,” Triantafilopoulos said.

Raptakis took this first opportunity to express his disappointment in the electoral result especially of a fellow elected Hellene and to honor and thank Peter Katsambanis for his contribution as President of PADEE/WHIA over the last four years and as 1st Vice-President for two years. PADEE/WHIA plans to honor Katsambanis more formally at its next General Assembly.

“We have an opportunity to make this organization a resource for all of its members, a vehicle for keeping Hellenes from all over the world connected to the work being done in different countries to promote issues of concern to Greece and Cyprus,” said Raptakis. “In this information age, we need to encourage vigorous discussions and adopt policies that will put WHIA at the forefront of the effort to build bridges between our member nations.”

“Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of issues— from Cyprus to protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other issues of concern,” said Georganas. “The PADEE/ WHIA is an important organization for disseminating information and mobilizing Greek communities all over the world.”

The PADEE/WHIA meets as a General Assembly every two years in Athens and the 13th such conference is tentatively scheduled for this July 2021 but due to COVID-19 final plans have not been announced. The PADEE/ WHIA Board of Directors plan to meet online more frequently to build support for financial investment, education, culture and other areas of partnerships among all their elected members of the nations they represent with Greece and Cyprus. 

Raptakis said the new board will focus its energies on providing dynamic and outspoken diaspora support to Greece, as it finds itself in an increasingly tense situation with its neighbor, Turkey. The board will also endeavor to strategically aid the Hellenic Republic’s economic recovery from the pandemic by mobilizing investment and other forms of financial support for Greece. Finally, Raptakis said the board will intensify the dialogue and exchanges between WHIA, the Presidency of the Hellenic Republic, the Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad as well as the Executive and Members of the Greek Parliament to mutually set out meaningful objectives for effective action and collaboration.

“There are a number of serious issues facing the Greek community worldwide and I want to make sure PADEE/WHIA is giving its members the information they need to get involved in resolving these matters,” said Raptakis. “I also want to make sure that when there are challenges facing the Greek community within a particular country, Hellenes worldwide are given the chance to make a difference and offer their support.”

The PADEE/WHIA consists of approximately 85 members throughout the world and mainly comprised of 43 members from the United States, 20 members from Australia, 10 members from Canada, and other members from Germany, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and other nations.