NEW YORK – The Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO) in collaboration with the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) and the Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom call on September 15 to welcome Michalis Firillas, the new Consul General of the Republic of Cyprus in New York. FCAO President Kyriacos Papastylianou gave the welcoming remarks and thanked all those present for participating.
PSEKA President Philip Christopher welcomed Firillas to the United States at this critical time as it has been for 47 years and noted that the Greek and Cypriot organizations are united and working together for peace and justice for Cyprus. Christopher also noted that Firillas’ predecessors went on to become ambassadors and he has the credentials and potential to be a great Consul General as well and has the full support of the community.
Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Maria Pappas also welcomed Firillas and offered her best wishes on behalf of the Chamber, adding that the organization is a resource and the new Consul General should reach out at any time.
Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the United States Marios Lyssiotis congratulated the organizers for putting together the event and noted that Firillas’ service in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, his educational background and experience will serve him well in his new position and wished him all the best in all his endeavors.
Consul General of Greece in New York Dr. Konstantinos Koutras also congratulated the organizers for the event and for all the Cypriot community does, telling Firillas that he is lucky and the homeland is lucky to have this support and this arsenal at his disposal for the benefit of Greece and Cyprus, because we are united on the issues and working together, “I’m sure we will all succeed for the good.”
New York State Assemblyman Michael Tannousis noted that as a Cypriot-American and a son of refugees, he cares deeply about Cyprus and the Greek and Cypriot-American communities are strong in their support for the issues of most concern to the homeland. He said he looks forward to working with Firillas and meeting in person soon.
Ambassador Maria Theofili, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, also welcomed Firillas and wished him the best of luck in his new position. She pointed out that the united Greek and Cypriot community will always be by his side and working together.
Nicos Zittis, National Chairman and President of the Cyprus Children’s Fund, wished Firillas all the best for a productive tenure and an enjoyable one. He also invited Firillas to attend the organization’s luncheon on October 2 with proceeds to benefit to benefit the Cyprus Children’s Fund philanthropies.
Consul General Firillas then gave his remarks, noting that he was moved by the kind words and best wishes and looks forward to working together to strengthen our position in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also said he looks forward to meeting everyone in person. Firillas mentioned he had spoken with Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides earlier in the day about the relationship between the U.S. and Cyprus and the cooperation of Cyprus, Greece, and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean. He had also met with His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros and spoke about his family background. Firillas pointed out that his family were refugees and it was in 2009 that he returned to Cyprus, to the homeland and feeling this nostalgia that every refugee feels and understands. The return gave strength to his work, to represent Cyprus to the world with the community’s help and support.
Philip Christopher noted that there is hope that more will be done on the Cyprus issue with the Biden administration, but as American citizens, we share the responsibility for not finding a solution. He then thanked the organizers and turned over the mic Papastylianou who gave the closing remarks on behalf of the FCAO, thanking everyone and again wishing Firillas all the best in his new position.