ATHENS – The official delegation of AHEPA’s annual family leadership excursion to Greece, Cyprus and Constantinople returned home after a series of informative meetings that put into perspective the various crises facing the homeland and the Greek Diaspora – as well as the world as a whole. . The trip was also an opportunity for the Ahepans to let Greek, Cypriot and Patriarchate officials know how the largest Diaspora organization can help their efforts. Led by Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas of Brooklyn, NY, the group also met with several US national security officials.
In Cyprus, they met with Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots Fotis Fotiou and discussed the geopolitical situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, including statements made by the US Under Secretary of State for Victoria Nuland policies during her recent visit there that bothered many.
During their meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, they discussed efforts to lift what remains of the US embargo on the receipt of military equipment in Cyprus, the war in Ukraine demonstrating that the deterrent capacity of the Republic must be reinforced . A dinner was held in honor of four members of AHEPA chapters in Cyprus for their financial and cultural contributions to Cyprus.
In Constantinople, from April 14 to 18, the delegation had visits with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the US Consul General, “who had very nice things to say about the patriarch,” Kokotas said. They went to the theological school in Halki and other historical sites. “It was a nice trip. We visited His Holiness at the Phanar on Saturday afternoon and attended Vespers on Saturday evening and Palm Sunday services the following day. On Saturday he paid tribute to us in his sermon, saying that the organization is known around the world for all the good it has done and he thanked us. It was special,” Kokotas said.
During their official meetings, the AHEPA presented the Patriarch with donations for his cause and asked how the Order could support his efforts.
Asked what the Patriarch passed on to them about a Holy Week with two warring Orthodox Christian nations, Kokotas said, “He’s obviously upset about it, but I give him so much credit that he took the high road” regarding the attacks he endured. Patriarch of Moscow Cyril and others. “Our patriarch has shown that he is the real one,” he said.
There is a chapter of AHEPA in Constantinople that the delegation visited.
As TNH reported in last week’s edition, the first half of the trip focused on Athens and among their meetings was a meeting with the Secretary General for Greeks in the Diaspora, Professor John Chrysoulakis; AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis said, “He has always been helpful to AHEPA, especially during last year’s historic Supreme Convention in Athens.
Another highlight of the trip was visiting the expanding US facilities in the port of Alexandroupolis in northeastern Greece. “It is positioned next to the airport. They are bringing a lot of equipment to support NATO moves related to helping Ukraine defend against Russian invasion…everything is mobile – I haven’t seen a lot of permanent structures. They are building a supply network which is really what you need, Mossaidis said, adding that the United States has established the capability to facilitate the movement of material to where it needs to go, which reveals the growing strategic importance from Greece to the United States. Along with this fact, experts also saw the Alexandroupolis developments as a signal to Turkey that the United States has a red line from Alexandroupolis to Greece’s northern border, a potential deterrent that reinforces the defense of Greece in a key region.
They were informed during the trip that the next meeting between Greece, Cyprus, Israel and the United States – the so-called 3+1 group – will take place in the presence of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The delegation also inaugurated an AHEPA museum in Alexandroupolis. Mossaides told TNH, “After World War II, AHEPA established medical centers all over Greece. The Alexandroupolis chapter acquired the building from the municipality and renovated it with donations from AHEPA. from around the world. The museum honors the work of AHEPA in this region and features photos of vital inoculation campaigns in the 1940s and 1950s.”
During the delegation’s visit to Thessaloniki, they met with local chapter leaders and discussed objectives and goals. There were also meetings with religious and political leaders and the Daughters of Penelope organized a seminar.
The official delegation was also included, Supreme Vice-President Lou Atsaves, Canadian President Emmanuel Costans, Supreme Secretary Savas Tsivikos, Region 10 Supreme Governor – Yiannis Mitropoulos, Girls Grand President Katy Bizoukas, Girls Grand President Good MariaAna Pantelous, PSP, current Board Chairman Nick Karacostas, Daughters Executive Director Elena Saviolakis, PSP George Horiates and AHEPA Cypriot and Hellenic Affairs Committee Chair Dr. Zenon Christodoulou.
Discussions also took place on the next trip that AHEPA will undertake with AHI, B’nai B’rith and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, which will begin on April 26 in Cyprus and continue in Israel and in Greece.