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Politics

Greek FM Meets U.S. Officials, Reaches out to Community with Kokkinos

 

NEW YORK – Nikos Kotzias, the Foreign Minister of Greece, met with U.S. and UN officials as well as leaders and members of the Greek-American community during a four-day visit to New York and Washington last week.

Kotzias said the visit was creative and constructive and exceeded expectations based on his past experiences, despite feeling that the atmosphere was somewhat “strange” when he first arrived.

On the afternoon of April 24 Kotzias visited the Archdiocese of America and that evening he was the guest of honor at a reception at the nearby Greek Consulate.

He also met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, with whom he discussed hopes for progress in the upcoming new round of Cyprus talks, and with Matthew Nimetz, UN Special Representative for the dispute between Greece and FYROM.

The foreign minister also met with Stanley Bergman, president of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and David Harris, its executive director, with whom he discussed progress in relations between Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Present with Kotzias at the meeting with Archbishop Demetrios of America were Michalis Kokkinos, the General Secretary for Greeks Abroad, Ambassadors Michel Spinelis and Katerina Boura of Greece, and Amb. George Iliopoulos, Consul General of Greece.

Archbishop Demetrios said “we had a very nice exchange of ideas. The foreign minister touched on the fundamental concepts of Hellenism and Orthodoxy in a proper and beautiful way, especially the notion of spirituality as a central element in the lives of people and communities, and in the life of our nation.”

Kotzias said the gathering was characterized by pragmatism, spiritual joy and intellectual vigor, and he thanked Demetrios for a discussion “filled with love and respect.”

“SLEEP ON” HIS MESSAGES

During the reception at the Consulate, Kotzias presented an overview of his visit, saying he presented Greece’s perspectives to the Americans and that he is confident that after sleeping on the issues they will have a better grasp on matters.

Amb. Iliopoulos expressed the honor and joy he felt in welcoming Kotzias and Kokkinos and told them he and his staff have been encouraged by their presence to continue their efforts to engender unity and generosity among Greek-Americans regarding the struggles of the homeland.

Kotzias then expressed his apprecation for the community. “As people who hold high what which we refer to as our country’s  spirituality, the concept of Greece and its values…I want to thank you for every thought and act of support for our country through the years,” and he cited a scholar who declared that the greatest nations are those with strong states and strong Diasporas.

“Despite the damage the nation has suffered in recent years, half our minds can be calm because of the strength of our Diaspora,” he said.

Turning to the Greek crisis, he said “I have often been asked by students ‘what is freedom?’ and I quote a thinker that I have revered since childhood that “freedom is the right to begin personal or communal life from the start.”

He said “the new government in Athens is an expression of the right of the Greek people to make a new beginning and effort, but to succeed, we need your help: your presence in Greece, your work here in support of Greek culture and spirituality.”

Kotzias smiled as he noted that in the Diaspora, as in Greece, there are elements of the good and the bad in Greek life, “but here I think there is more of the good…we appreciate your ideas and opinions, and your professionalism which help us to transcend the stereotypes that burden us. We are proud of you and we hope to soon make you proud of us again.”

Timoleon Kokkinos, Principal of the Afternoon Greek School of St. Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, was among the guests. He is also Michalis Kokkinos’ uncle. “I am proud of him because he has an important post, and because he is sensitive to the needs of Greeks abroad. He is very well informed and has often discussed community matters with me. He is energetic and sincere and seeks dialogue, and I am certain he will serve his country well.”

 

 

 

 

 

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