Undoubtedly, the meeting scheduled for Tuesday between the Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, and the leaders of our Community is a positive development and a step in the right direction.
This fact in itself is proof that even if the mayor has not regretted his pro-Turkish statements and the close ties he has with the Turkish-American community and Turkey, at least he does not want to lose the support of our Community.
So there can be no dispute about the usefulness of the scheduled meeting, for both sides.
The issue is how we will use the meeting – what will be the arguments that we will present to the Mayor and what, therefore, will be the tangible results that will emerge.
This will largely depend on the sense of mission and responsibility that participants will feel towards the Community, rather than serving personal interests, as is unfortunately often the case.
In my commentary titled A Turkish Tree Grows in Brooklyn – and our Community’s Responsibilities (November 24, 2021) I wrote, among others, the following:
“I propose the following: a group of Greek-Americans, led by our Archbishop, should ask to meet with Mr. Adams to make clear our dissatisfaction and ask him, in the worst case, to maintain equal distance between the two Communities.”
But we have to do it now, at the beginning of his term, in order to prevent the worst, because barring any unforeseen situation, he will be the mayor of New York for at least four years and we cannot allow him to be ‘the first Turkish mayor of New York.’
In a second commentary of mine, the next day, titled The Adams Issue: It is a Leadership Issue, I wrote:
“At the same time the Adams statements bring to the forefront another major issue that is very obvious and oftentimes harmful… they reveal the magnitude of the lack of competent popular leadership at the head of our lay organizations. There is probably no other period, in recent decades, when the Greek-American community in New York was so headless and fragmented.”
Given this fact, they chose good people to represent us. They are for the most part people who are well-known in our Community and in wider New York society, involved in the political life of the city.
We would certainly like to see representatives of the organized Community as well, but, as we all unfortunately know, the situation there is not at all pleasant at the moment. The president of AHEPA fortunately will take part.
Also, the point of the meeting is certainly not to antagonize the mayor – that would make him turn against us even more.
The aim is to use this opportunity in such a way that he realizes his mistake and for him to find ways, through actions and not only through words, to restore his relations with our Community. To make sure that he will be fair to us in the future.
What would make the meeting a great success is turning the problem into an opportunity.