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Politics

Greek, Cypriot Ambassadors to U.S. Outline State of Relations at AHI Briefing

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a breakfast briefing with Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the U.S. Alexandra Papadopoulou and Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Marios Lysiotis, at the Capital Hilton, Washington, DC, March 19. One hundred persons attended.

AHI President Nick Larigakis moderated the briefing. He opened by stating U.S-Greece and U.S.-Cyprus relations continue to “reach new heights,” and he commended the “3+1” framework. Larigakis cited the U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act, the assignment of a Cypriot defense attaché to the Embassy of Cyprus in Washington, and Cyprus’ inclusion into the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program as welcomed developments in relations. He also mentioned the common challenges Greece and Cyprus face from a common neighbor, Turkey.

On Ukraine

Prior to speaking about their respective country’s relations with the United States, each ambassador touched upon Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Ambassador Papadopoulou expressed her shock about Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, stating that such actions are a display of a “ruthless regime.” She added she hopes that this can be an opportunity for Europe to unite. Ambassador Lysiotis expressed sympathy for Ukraine, adding that Cyprus knows what it is like to go through an illegal military invasion and occupation. Cyprus has taken in more than 3,000 Ukrainian refugees, the ambassador said. In addition, he contrasted Cyprus’ standing by Ukraine, through support of sanctions, to Turkey’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia.

U.S.-Greece Relations “Stronger than ever before”

The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) held its Eastern Mediterranean Briefing on March 19. Photo: AHI

Ambassador Papadopoulou stated that U.S.-Greece relations are “stronger than ever before” and highlighted its multifaceted nature and the bipartisan support it receives in the United States and Greece as pros. She cited the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, the U.S.-Greece Defense and Interparliamentary Partnership Act, and the emergent “3+1” alliance between Greece, Israel, Cyprus, and the United States, as crucial developments. On the latter, Ambassador Papadopoulou noted the important role the trilateral alliance can play to help Europe wean off Russian oil and gas, a pressing matter in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Pivoting to Greece-Turkey relations, Ambassador Papadopoulou stated the two countries must learn to “live together” given their proximity to each other.  This would require Turkey to abide by the rule of law and respect Greece’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, she said.

Cyprus Problem Remains “Frozen”

Ambassador Lysiotis stated Cyprus has a role in contributing to peace and stability in Europe. He added it is important for Cyprus to work with the U.S. administration and Congress to boost bilateral ties across sectors further. He also stated Cyprus can assist in the diversification of Europe’s energy supply. Lastly, the Ambassador stated the Cyprus problem remains “frozen,” and Cyprus must remain vigilant, given Turkey’s aggression and hostility.

In closing, President Larigakis stated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine emphasized the dangers of applying the rule of law “selectively.”

“There is anarchy without the rule of law,” he said.

Larigakis noted that should the United States and the international community allow revisionist powers, such as Russia and Turkey, to engage in territorial expansion without consequences, it could have the potential to destroy the rules-based international order. It would be destabilizing, he said.

The audience included: Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Erika Olson and Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs Maria Olson from the U.S. Department of State; Member of Hellenic Parliament Demetrios Kairidis, Embassy of Greece Defense Attaché Col. Panayiotis Vlachopoulos, and Embassy of Cyprus Defense Attaché Lt. Col. Georgios Ioannou. AHI Hellenic Heritage Achievement and National Public Service Honorees John Koudounis and James Lagos also attended.

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