Supreme President Jimmy Kokotas kicked-off the annual AHEPA Family Leadership Excursion with a visit to Brussels, Belgium, for meetings at the European Union and NATO with representatives of Greece, Cyprus, and the United States, as well as with Ahepans from Brussels, April 21. District 28 Governor Dimosthenis Mammonas assisted with the coordination of the meeting schedule. Supreme Treasurer E. Chris Kaitson and Supreme Counselor Themistocles Frangos accompanied Supreme President Kokotas on this leg of the excursion.
They continued to Germany for a mass initiation held by Achilleas Chapter 624, Stuttgart, and a dinner hosted by Daughters of Penelope MeTera Chapter 425. AHEPA is positioned to grow in Germany with Hellenic communities from three cities strongly interested in chartering chapters.
Following a successful visit to Germany, Supreme President Kokotas, Supreme Treasurer Kaitson, and Supreme Counselor Frangos visited Thessaloniki and met with Thessaloniki-area Ahepans.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Supreme President Kokotas led a larger AHEPA family delegation, including Daughters of Penelope Grand President Georgette Boulegeris and Maids of Athena Grand President Maria Ana Pantelous, in an audience with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, on April 23.
“We are deeply grateful to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the generous amount of time he afforded to our delegation,” Supreme President Kokotas said. “The AHEPA family remains steadfast in its support for religious freedom and human rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all religious minorities in Turkey. We will not cease our efforts until these fundamental rights are in place and the Ecumenical Patriarchate is allowed to flourish.”
The delegation also attended church services on the Feast Day of St. George at the Cathedral of St. George at the Phanar.
The delegation arrived in Cyprus on April 24 and attended a briefing with U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Julie Fisher, who started her post on February 21, 2023. Supreme President Kokotas led the discussion that centered enhancing U.S.-Cyprus relations.
“It was a sincere pleasure to meet and personally congratulate Ambassador Fisher,” Kokotas said. “We appreciated her time, thank her for a productive meeting, and stand ready to assist the ambassador in her mission to Cyprus.”
The delegation also met with newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides on April 25. He took office on February 28, 2023.
“We conveyed our heartfelt congratulations to President Christodoulides and had a fruitful meeting,” Kokotas said. “We reiterated our firm commitment to keep the Cyprus issue at the forefront and to playing a key role in the strengthening of relations between the United States and Cyprus. We were also excited to share our initial plans to host our first-ever Supreme Convention in Cyprus in 2024.”
Additional meetings on April 25 were held with Defense Minister Michalis Giorgallas, the chief of the Cypriot National Guard, Lt. Gen. Dimokritos Zervakis, and an audience and luncheon with with His Beatitude Archbishop Georgios of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, who was enthroned in January 2023.
“We were deeply grateful for the generous hospitality afforded us by Archbishop Georgios,” Kokotas said. “We also congratulated His Beatitude and were honored to be with him for such a long time.”
The delegation also paid its respects at the Tomb of Makedonitissa, a war memorial and military cemetery, where Supreme President Kokotas laid a wreath.
In addition to Supreme President Kokotas, the members of the delegation who participated at various legs thus far include: Daughters of Penelope Grand President Georgette Boulegeris, Maids of Athena Grand President Maria Ana Pantelous, Canadian President Emmanuel Constans, Chairman of the Board Nicholas Karacostas, PSP; DOP Past Grand President Kathy Bizoukas, Supreme Secretary Savas Tsivicos, Supreme Treasurer E. Chris Kaitson, Supreme Counselor Themistocles Frangos, Supreme Governor Region 10 Yiannis Mitropoulos, DOP Regional Liaison Mara Sofianou, District 27 Governor George Kallenos, District 28 Governor Dimosthenis Mammonas, Executive Director Basil Mossaidis, and DOP Executive Director Elena Saviolakis.