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AHI Hosts Dinner in Honor of the Greek American Delegation of the 111th Congress
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
January 23, 2009—No. 4 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Dinner in Honor of the Greek American Delegation of the 111th Congress

WASHINGTON, DC—On January 14, 2009 the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a dinner in honor of the Greek American delegation of the 111th Congress, Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Zack Space (D-OH), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA) at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-MA) was unable to attend the event do to a prior engagement.

Opening the evening’s program, AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis said, “As Greek Americans, we always take great joy and pride when someone in our community achieves a high pinnacle of success in their chosen field of endeavor. Tonight, the joy and pride is seven-fold as we welcome to Washington the two new members who are joining the other five.”

Following the dinner the seven members of Congress were introduced by Nick Larigakis.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis stated, “It is from my heart and I have a duty and obligation…to discuss and explain to senior members how important the FYROM issues is to us, how important the Patriarchate issue is and Cyprus, and how these things have not been resolved for so many years.”

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley told a heartfelt story regarding here Jewish family in Thessaloniki during WWII, “I am technically not Greek. My family comes from the Jewish community in Thessaloniki…By the time the Nazis finished with us, there were 1,000 Jews left. If it had not been for our Greek neighbors, there would have been no Jews left. And I am very mindful of the sacrifice that our Greek neighbors made in order to keep some of their neighbors alive,” she said.

Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas stated, “I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and to be part of this great community of Greek leaders and look forward to working with you on the issues that are important to you in Congress.”

Congressman John Sarbanes stated, “With respect to the issues that are of particular concern to our community you have to have a certain peripheral vision as you embark on these important issues. We understand what an important ally Greece is for the United States and how that relationship has to be cherished and cultivated and what a strategic ally; a unified Cyprus can be for the United States.”

Congressman Zack Space said, “I think it is fitting that the Greek American community would be so responsible for my victory and my ability to hang on to my seat…We all learned growing up in Greek families the value of hard work, oikogenia (family), and personal responsibility…I look forward to working with you all in the future on these issues that are of such importance to all of us.”

Congresswoman Dina Titus stated, “I entered this Congress with a strong Greek heart, and I am looking forward to working with John, Zack, and Gus as my mentors as we face some of the issues that I know you have been working on for so long.”

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas said, “One of the things that prompted me to run for Congress was the fact that it had been 25 years since a woman had been elected to Congress from Massachusetts. As I look around this table, I think we Greek Americans have done very well in sending women to Congress.”

Over 100 persons attended the dinner, which included: Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandros Mallias and Mrs. Mallias, Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Andreas Kakouris and Mrs. Kakouris, U.S. Regional Coordinator for the Council of Hellens Abroad (SAE) Ted Spyropoulos and Mrs. Spyropoulos, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Greek Embassy Karolos Gadis, AHEPA Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, President of the Hellenic American Women’s Council Maria Stamoulas, Next Generation Executive Director Leon Stavrou, Thalia Assuras from CBS News, former Deputy Chief of Mission in Athens, Tom Countryman, Executive Director of the National Hellenic Society, Tim Maniatis, AHI Advisory Committee members Kostas Alexakis, James Marketos, Peter Pappas, and numerous Congressional staffers.

For photos of this event, click here.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at pr@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.