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Guest Viewpoints

TNH Is Correct: The Time Has Come for Community Assemblies

June 24, 2022
By Nicholas Larigakis

I wish to begin by thanking The National Herald for highlighting the significance of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ recent visit (‘Ideas for Building on the Success of Mitsotakis’ Visit,’ May 25, 2022).

To build upon several points the editorial proposes, the idea of the establishment of Greek-American community assemblies to facilitate exchanges and people-to-people ties with Greece is to be commended. It is an initiative the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) would support. AHI plays an active part in promoting people-to-people ties and in creating future leaders of the Greek-American community, primarily through our AHIF College Student Foreign Policy Study Trip to Greece and Cyprus, which aims to help Greek- and Cypriot-American college students better understand the core foreign policy issues important to the Community.

However, I strongly believe it will be very beneficial for the Prime Minister of Greece and Greek-American stakeholders, including the heads of major Greek-American organizations, to engage in a roundtable discussion every time the prime minister visits the United States. It should be an institutional practice. It will promote an exchange of ideas and information, and in my opinion, will add to the credibility of those who seek to advance United States-Greece relationship, further building upon the strong bonds that exist currently. A roundtable discussion also will enhance the stakeholders to be more effective interlocutors between Greece and the United States and allow the Greek government to be better informed of the efforts of the Greek-American organizations.

Eleven Major Greek American organizations, including AHI, sponsored a gala hosting Prime Minister Mitsotakis during his recent visit. However, such an event, while important, should have been accompanied by collective meetings in order to allow for a serious and substantive dialogue. In his speech to a Joint Meeting of Congress, Prime Minister Mitsotakis acknowledged the contributions of the Greek-American community, which I commend. I strongly suggest that such a collective meeting with the leadership of the leading Greek-American organizations be allotted to the prime minister’s schedule during future visits. A better and more systematic channel of communication and dialogue will unleash many possibilities.

Lastly, the editorial’s statement, “for decades, the children of our Community have witnessed a pathetic Greece from afar and unimpressive representatives nearby, hence, they had low expectations for the country,” regarding the transformation of Greece in the last decade, is a salient one. The Greek government’s increasingly pro-Western posture and deepening alliance with the United States in recent years, coupled with its partnership with Israel, has made it significantly easier for all organizations that seek to advance U.S.-Greece relations through our interactions with policymakers in Washington, DC. This is a stunning transformation from when I first joined AHI in 1987. At that time, members of Congress frequently complained to me about anti-Americanism emanating from Greece.

In conclusion, thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas and feedback regarding the ideas in the editorial, and congratulations on your many contributions to the Greek-American community and to Hellenism.

Nick Larigakis is President & CEO of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI).

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