GR US

AHEPA’s Supreme President Recaps Trip to Greece, Cyprus, Israel

The National Herald Archive

Cobi Bitton, CEO of the Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce, addresses an attentive gathering hosted by AHEPA Hellas HJ-36 Icaros at the War Museum in Athens. (Photo by TNH/ C. Sirigos)

ATHENS – The Order of AHEPA, led by Supreme President George Horiates, participated in the fourth biennial “Three-Country Leadership Mission to Israel, Cyprus, Greece” that brought top American Hellenic and Jewish groups to Greece, Cyprus, and Israel for discussions about deepening, strengthening, and broadening of the partnership those countries are building, with the United States as a “Plus 1” supporter.

Government officials and Diaspora leaders emphasize the importance of people-to-people contact and welcome the activities of groups like AHEPA and the B’Nai B’rith – which participated along with the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – two analogous mass and grass roots groups which have had a decades-old relationship, “partnering in many projects,” said Horiates.

“The trip in support of the Trilateral relationship was a success and the four groups enjoyed their interaction and also created greater synergies with regard to the current state of affairs,” he added.

He said the “Trilateral trip has enabled us to double down on our relationship with Israel and our Jewish brethren given the EastMed pipeline, given trade relations, tourism, and security concerns between the countries. These are the three stable democracies of the Eastern Mediterranean, and being able to speak to their leaders and policy advisors provided a unique opportunity for introspection” and mutual understanding regarding challenges and opportunities.

Horiates believes that the efforts of the visitors through the years contributed to the Israel Defense Force just adding Turkey to the list that is topped by Iran of first tier threats to the region – Turkey had been a second tier threat.

Topics of discussion included Turkish threats to Cyprus, the illegitimate MOU between Tripoli and Ankara, and Turkey’s continuing violation of Greek waters and airspace and harassing its Air Force with mock dog’s fights. He also noted how impressed he was with Israel’s respect for Greece exhausting all diplomatic efforts to maintain the peace, “but is also at the ready” for all contingencies.

And so is AHEPA. Horiates noted that chapters in Germany immediately protested to Chancellor Angela Merkel Greece’s exclusion from last Sunday’s conference on Libya.

Horiates also emphasized the importance to Greece and the Diaspora of the upcoming historic anniversaries, this year, the anniversary of the battles of Thermopylae and Salamina, with their crucial importance to Western Civilization and the free world. He pointed out that 2500 years later threats continue to emerge from the Middle East in the form of “radical Islam that seeks to extinguish Western Civilization and an authoritarian regime in Turkey that threatens Greece and Cyprus.”

For that reason, he said, “we have endeavored as AHEPA to re-energize the sleeping giant that is Hellenism. We have been exhaustive in our efforts in Washington, DC to urge officials to stop turning a blind eye towards Turkey.”

AHEPA is very excited about Greece’s bicentennial in 2021. “The world will be amazed at the celebrations that will occur in Greece and AHEPA has already signed an agreement with the Hotel Grande Bretagne and adjoining facilities for the Supreme Convention that will be held in Athens the third week of July 2021. We will be at venues we hand-picked with ministry officials designed to show the Diaspora the highlights of this wonderful city, including the Benaki Museum, the Acropolis, the University, and the Parliament. In the context of coming out of a decade of crisis and creating fertile ground for a better future, this is welcome news,” he said, coming in tandem with AHEPA’s efforts to promote investment in Greece and inspire and support businesses there, especially young entrepreneurs through interaction with the Diaspora and through 41 AHEPA chapters in the homeland.