American Hellenic Institute

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AHI Summer Interns Meet with their Congressmen


July 27, 1998 No. 33/98


In the week of July 20, 1998 American Hellenic Institute interns Christina Rocha from Baltimore, MD and Dena Fokas from Charleston, SC met with their respective Representatives Robert Ehrlich (D-MD) and Mark Sanford (R-SC). The purpose of the visits was for the interns to meet their representatives and to discuss the issues that are of special concern to AHI.

Meeting with representatives is a part of the internship program at AHI. There are several internship positions offered each year. The interns have the opportunity to work in Washington, DC, and to experience first hand the excitement and practical understanding of how foreign policy is developed in this country. Interns participate in a variety of activities such as monitoring legislation and Congressional hearings, conduct research on issues affecting U.S.-Greece-Cyprus relations, and write memoranda, press releases and letters. Through their visits with the Congressmen the interns have the opportunity to discuss issues that they have researched and studied during their internship.

A specific point Christina and Dena included in the discussions with their representatives was H. Con. Res. 188. This states "that it is the sense of the Congress that the islets of Imia in the Aegean Sea are sovereign territory of Greece under international law." Christina and Dena reinforced the arguments in support of the Resolution and urged the Congressmen to join the current list of 41 co-sponsors. They further criticized the Administration's opposition to Cyprus' purchase of the S-300 air defense system. They stated that Cyprus has a sovereign right of self-defense and is in need of additional defense given the presence of 35,000 Turkish troops in the occupied part of Cyprus.

Christina and Dena's visits with the Congressmen are examples of the AHI's commitment to the education of Greek American youth and to grass-roots activity. Education of the upcoming generation in the skills of communication with congressional representatives is a key to AHI's effectiveness in promoting issues of concern to the Greek American community.