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Festive Pre-Parade Reception at the Pierre Hotel in New York

NEW YORK – With the calls of “Long live March 25th,” “Long live Greece,” and “Long live Cyprus,” this year’s pre-parade grand celebratory reception at the Pierre Hotel was held on April 14. This annual event is planned by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York as a token of gratitude to the officials and sponsors for their kind support and the guests in attendance share their greetings.

Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Pancyprian Association of America, as the General Chairman of the Parade Committee for the 203rd anniversary of the Greek Revolution and the 50th anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus, opened the celebration with particular enthusiasm, inviting the soprano Nicoletta Mitroussias from Chicago and the well-known singer Alexia to perform, respectively, the American and Greek National Anthems, after the attendees observed a moment of silence in memory of the honorary president and benefactor of the Federation Vasilis Stathakos, who had passed away in the morning hours on the day of the parade.

Philip Christopher then introduced John Catsimatidis, who pointed out that the reason why everyone came together this day is to pay tribute to their parents, grandparents, and all the ancestors who gave their blood so they could exist today. Ernie Anastos then referred to the importance of the day which includes the tribute to Cyprus, but also gratitude to our ancestors.

AHEPA Supreme President Savas Tsivicos spoke about the historic day, about the contribution of the City of New York, which for the umpteenth time closed Fifth Avenue again, validating once again the status of the Greek community in the U.S. He closed his speech saying that we cannot forget the 50 cursed years of the illegal invasion and occupation of Cyprus and that everyone must continue the struggle.

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris and Parade Committee member Nikos Kostopoulos at the pre-parade reception at the Pierre Hotel on April 14. Photo: TNH/ Yanna Katsageorgi

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris made a reference to the Greek-Americans who have been elected in recent years in New York and thanked the community for its support, giving the floor to New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who thanked Catsimatidis, Christopher and all the sponsors and expressed his pride in the contributions of the Greek community in New York and America.

U.S. Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis continued, expressing her emotion that this year’s parade is dedicated to Cyprus and this strengthens even more the bond between Cyprus, Greece, and the U.S.

Afterwards, the representatives of the Greek state in New York and Washington, DC spoke. Consul General of Greece in New York Ambassador Dinos Konstantinou thanked the members of the organizing committee who dedicated many hours of their personal time so that we could have this magnificent parade. He introduced the new Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Ekaterini Nassika, whom he welcomed and wished on behalf of everyone, success in her work. The new ambassador took the floor expressing how honored she is to celebrate with the Greek community the Greek Revolution in the USA, where the first democratic revolution and the first democratic constitution of the modern world began.

Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations Ambassador Evangelos Sekeris also referred to the fact that one of the main points that must be addressed in the Cyprus issue is the UN and how much the Mission of Cyprus, as well as the Hellenic Mission, are dealing with this.

Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Greek-American Educators, referred extensively to the value of March 25th and to the character of Chairman of the Committee for Greeks Abroad Filippos Fortomas, to whom she gave the floor. Fortomas emphasized that together with the members of the Parliament and with Parliament’s Committee for Greeks Abroad, they can do more together and highlight what the Omogenia is doing both in the USA and in New York.

The speeches continued with the Greek officials led by Giannis Plakiotakis, First Vice-President of the Hellenic Parliament, who congratulated the organizing committee and introduced the members of Parliament from Greece, including Fortomas – ND, Theophilos Xanthopoulos – SYRIZA, Milena Apostolaki – PASOK, Nina Kasimatis- SYRIZA, and Rena Dourou – SYRIZA. On behalf of the Parliament, he expressed the gratitude of the members for the excellent work that the American Community does to promote the ties between Greece, the U.S., and Cyprus.

Stefanos Kasselakis, leader of the official opposition and president of SYRIZA-PS, spoke about Hellenism which could not exist without the presence of the Greeks of the Diaspora all over the world. The floor was taken by Evangelos Meimarakis, a member of the European Parliament, who congratulated the organizing committee of the parade and referred to his need when he is abroad to compose and unite because we are only Greeks and do not have different perceptions. “United we will move forward with the head of the Orthodox religion, the Archbishop, who with his wisdom guides us and unites us.”

Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Maria Michail continued by referring to the importance of this parade, which is dedicated to the 50 years of the illegal Turkish invasion and occupation, while Ambassador Maria Konstantinidou, Commissioner for Overseas Cyprus, conveyed the gratitude of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Cypriot people for the contribution of the Community to the Cyprus problem. The two representatives of the Cypriot people wished for a better future for all Hellenism and Cyprus.

Giorgos Aftias, ND MEP candidate, thanked the Greek-American community for their contributions, emphasizing the role of maintaining their identity. He spoke with The National Herald after the event, declaring that he feels great, because he is among the Omogenia, and made reference to the biggest newspaper of Hellenism “which keeps Greece standing, the flag standing, the homeland standing. The National Herald is our daily reading in Greece as well. Many congratulations to the newspaper and many congratulations to all of you who work there.”

The speeches continued with great enthusiasm from the MPs Theofilos Xanthopoulos, Milena Apostolaki and Nina Kasimatis as well as from the MEP candidates Niovi Christopoulou of the ND, Antonis Gounalakis of SYRIZA and Natasa Romanou of the New Left. Also speaking were NYS Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, Federation of Hellenic American Societies of New England President Vasilis Kafkas, Hellenic Federation of New Jersey President Dr. Peter Stavrianidis. The Parade Grand Marshals, Mayor of Chios Dr. Ioannis M. Malafis and NFL player with the Kansas City Chiefs George Karlaftis, as well as many other prominent Greek-Americans also attended.


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