TAMPA, FL – Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended this year’s AHEPA Epiphany Grand Banquet in Tampa at the Innisbrook Resort on January 5.
In his speech, Mitsotakis did not shy away from the issue of Turkish provocations and also praised U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) for his contribution in promoting developments on the EastMed pipeline. He also referred warmly to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America who was also in attendance at the event, noting that "you're very lucky to have him here."
Mitsotakis also referred to key areas of the Greek community's practical relationship with Greece, and welcomed the vote on the bill for expatriate voting, even under these conditions.
Among those present were, the wife of the Prime Minister, Mareva Mitsotakis, the government spokesman Stelios Petsas, Greek Ambassador to Washington Haris Lalakos, Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office Alexandra Papadopoulou, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, his father and former Rep. Michael Bilirakis, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis, Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos, and Pancretan Association of America President Eleftherios Dramitinos.
Mitsotakis, outlining the agenda of his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, said that "we will examine the indestructible Greek-American relations and prospects at all levels," but added that he will particularly discuss Turkey.
"I will also brief him on developments in the southeastern Mediterranean. There, where Turkey unfortunately violates international law, threatening all neighboring countries and threatening international stability and security in the region," Mitsotakis said, noting that Turkish behavior in Libya "has already been condemned by the U.S., Europe, Russia and all the Mediterranean states, from France, Cyprus and Greece to Israel and Egypt… everyone is reacting to its unilateral actions in the maritime zones.”
Mitsotakis also expressed confidence that Greece, with the dawn of the 21st century, has "come out of the crisis" which characterized the decade that just ended, and called on the Greek community to stay close to their home country, either by investing in Greece, or by giving their children more opportunities to visit while maintaining the Greek language.
"The Greeks of America, throughout the 20th century, stood by Greece. They came back to fight, but from here they helped her materially and morally. But they did not forget it in peace either. How many schools, hospitals, and institutions do not bear the stamp of our expatriates,” said Mitsotakis, also calling on Greeks, at home and abroad, to mark the 200th anniversary of the 1821 Revolution, which is approaching.
Finally, regarding the institutionalization of the process of voting for expatriates, Mitsotakis expressed his satisfaction, however, reiterating his firm position that the law should not be restricted, but the obligation to the overwhelming majority pushed him to retreat.
The Prime Minister was welcomed at the Innisbrook Resort, by Archbishop Elpidophoros, Metropolitan Alexios, AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates, and Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos who had met him earlier.
Mitsotakis held a private meeting with Rep. Gus Bilirakis, his father and former Congressman Mike Bilirakis, Alahouzos, AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates, Supreme Treasurer Savas Tsivicos, and the event's director Steven Sakoulas.
Arriving at the event, Mitsotakis was warmly applauded by more than 500 guests, and both he and his wife, Mareva, received gifts from the official representatives, including Mayor Alahouzos on behalf of Tarpon Springs, as well as Pancretan Association President Dramitinos.
In addition to gifts and bouquets, Dramitinos presented a special surprise for the Prime Minister and his wife with a Cretan dance performance by the Association’s dance department.
In their respective speeches, both Archbishop Elpidophoros and Rep. Bilirakis praised the Prime Minister and his efforts. During the event, it was repeatedly noted that Mitsotakis is the first Prime Minister of Greece to visit Tarpon Springs since Eleftherios Venizelos.
The event was coordinated by AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis.