Tsipras Visits NYC Mayor, Ground Zero

NEW YORK – On his last day in New York during a trip whose main purpose was participation in the opening session of the UN General Assembly by which also included appearances at community events, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited with fellow progressive politician Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York.

On October second Tsipras and his entourage travelled downtown to City Hall for what was to be a brief meeting but which turned into an hour long discussion of common principles and the challenges they face as public servants in a time of ever-louder calls for austerity.

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At the photo opportunity for the Greek and Greek-American press the Mayor praised Tsipras for being a champion of the cause of confronting the weak global recovery through economic stimulus.

“In the context of Europe that fight has taken the form of fighting against austerity that holds people back and I think it’s fair to say that you have been the leader in a difficult fight and you’ve been courageous… Your voice has had a very big impact around the world that is changing the understanding of what we have to do to truly have inclusive economics and for that I want to thank you,” de Blasio said.

Tsipras thanked the Mayor and emphasized that not only Greece faces economic challenges and he said he is closely following the Mayor’s efforts to protect poor people. Tsipras said “we have common principles and common values…we must place these principles of humanity above the other ideas,” and the demands of moneyed interests.

De Blasio delighted the Greek leader and elicited laughter at the gathering “ I spoke to you not wearing a tie even though it was only a phone [conversation] but now we are here and I did start the day wearing a and you have liberated me and now I’ve gone tieless to this meeting in solidary with you.”

The two leaders established immediate rapport and a meeting that was supposed to be for a for few  minutes lasted more than an hour.

Earlier in the day during his visit to Archdiocesan headquarters he was impressed by the model of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox shrine that Archbishop Demetrios showed him.

Anthoula Katsimatides, actress who worked for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and helped the families of victims copy with the tragedy took the Prime Minister and his entourage to the September 11 memorial and shared with him the meaning of that day and the rebuilding at Ground Zero –including St. Nicholas – for Greek-Americans.

She and the Prime Minister searched for the names carved into the bronze perimeter of the memorial of the numerous Greek-Americans who were lost in the attacks. The first name they found was Theodore Pigis, who lived in Brooklyn and was born on Corfu.

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Due to the extra time Tsipras spent with de Blasio and his tight schedule the rest of the day until his departure by plane for Greece made him unable to visit site of the new Church, whose recent commencement of construction has excited the community across the nation.

Katsimatides told TNH that Tsipras said the Church will complement the memorial.

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