A 22-member delegation of leaders of the American Hellenic and American Jewish organizations completed a fourth, three-country Leadership Mission to Greece, Cyprus and Israel, to explore the major political, economic and security developments underway in the eastern Mediterranean and to advance the interests of the United States in the region. Meetings were held with more than 30 high-ranking government and military officials and policy analysts from the three countries and the United States between January 11 and 17, 2020. The participating organizations included: the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA), the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), B’nai B’rith International, and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
In a post-mission statement, the groups noted:
“Our meetings clearly revealed the trilateral partnership between Israel, Cyprus and Greece—now together with the United States in a 3+1 framework—is moving forward on a sustained course with a commitment to achieve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean and the broader region. The eastern Mediterranean provides strategic depth and the 3+1 is an ongoing, orienting framework that offers added value to the region.
“We applaud the leaders of the three countries for their close cooperative partnership. Through high-level meetings, the groundwork for a roadmap of cooperation across a variety of areas has been prepared. All level of government in conjunction with the private sector, must contribute substance to the groundwork to yield additional actions and concrete results.
“Further, the trilateral partnership possesses the potential to allow the eastern Mediterranean to become a community of nations based on shared common values and aspirations. This approach anticipates that the partnership is neither exclusionary nor exclusive and we hope it expands to like-minded countries that respect democratic values, international law, and sovereign rights. This will only serve to strengthen the region.
“Provocative actions in the eastern Mediterranean and the broader region are unacceptable, including infringements on sovereignty. The engagement of the United States in the region is critical and appreciated but, together with Europe, must do more to counter the actions of malign actors in the eastern Mediterranean.
“As committed supporters, the American Hellenic and American Jewish communities are committed to advancing the trilateral partnership and 3+1 framework. We will continue to work to foster closer cooperation with the United States and support the common efforts to achieve tangible and measurable outcomes across all areas. For example, we commend programs involving student and young professionals exchanges, initiatives to combat anti-Semitism, and joint response efforts to natural disasters.
“Finally, we are grateful to the many public officials who afforded us the opportunity to exchange views and ideas. The friendship and hospitality shown to us made the trip even more meaningful and productive.”
- View: Highlights from the Mission’s visit to Greece
- View: Highlights from the Mission’s visit to Israel
- View: Highlights from the Mission’s visit to Cyprus
Leadership Mission: Listing of Meetings, Briefings & Visitations
- Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Head of Foreign Policy Department, National Security Council, Reuven Azar.
- Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Isaac Herzog.
- Head of the Political-Military Bureau of the Israeli Ministry of Defense Zohar Palti.
- Head of the Liaison Department for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Col. Moshe Soffer.
- The joint delegation received a briefing at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with:
- Avraham Nir, head, European Division,
- Akiva Tor, head, Bureau for Worldwide Jewish Affairs and World Religions,
- Iris Ambor, director, Southern European Department, and
- Noam Katz, deputy director general, Media and Public Affairs.
- The delegation held a working dinner hosted by B’nai B’rith International and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations with key current and former diplomats:
- Ambassador of Cyprus to Israel Thessalia S. Shambos,
- Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dr. Dore Gold, who currently is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and
- Evangelos Kyriakopoulos, counselor, Embassy of Greece.
- The delegation received a policy briefing from Professor Efraim Inbar, founding director, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and Dr. Eran Lerman, former Deputy for Foreign Policy and International Affairs and former member of the Israeli National Security Council, at a dinner hosted by B’nai B’rith International and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
- The delegation toured the Bible Lands Museum and Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
- President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
- U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus Judith Garber hosted the joint delegation for a briefing and reception.
- Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.
- President of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris.
- Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Cypriots Photis Photiou.
- Commissioner Photiou hosted the joint delegation for a luncheon.
- The delegation also received a military briefing by Lieutenant General Elias Leontaris, who is chief of the National Guard. Gen. Leontaris hosted a welcome reception for the delegation at the Officer’s Club.
- The delegation visited the Tomb of Makedonitissa, a war memorial and military cemetery where each organization’s head laid a wreath.
- The delegation visited the Cyprus – Israeli Monument, which commemorates 2,200 Jewish children born in Cyprus to Jewish Holocaust survivors detained in Cyprus between 1946 and 1949.
- AHEPA District 27, Cyprus, hosted a dinner for the joint delegation.
- Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
- American Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt and Deputy Chief of Mission David Burger.
- Minister for Development and Investment Adonis Georgiadis.
- Minister of Tourism Haris Theoharis. Minister Theoharis also hosted a dinner for the joint delegation.
- General Christos Christodoulou, then-Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, whose team provided a defense briefing and hosted the joint delegation for a dinner at the Hellenic Armed Forces Officers’ Club.
- Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
- The delegation received a briefing at the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs with:
- Ambassador Eleni Sourani, A4 Directorate for Turkey,
- Ambassador Theodoros Theodorou, A6 Directorate for Middle East, and
- Ambassador Elisavet Fotiadou, A7 Directorate for North America.
- The joint delegation visited the Hellenic Armed Forces Special Forces Training Center
- General Evangelos Papadopoulos, whose team provided several briefings about various training centers located in Greece.
(Notes: President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos were out of the country. Preparations to host a visit from Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar precluded Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias from meeting with the delegation.)
Leadership Mission: Participating Organizations
American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA) is a leading membership-based grassroots service association for American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes. Its mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
- Supreme President George G. Horiates
- Canadian President Christos Argiriou
- Supreme Treasurer Savas Tsivicos
- Supreme Counselor Lou Atsaves
- Supreme Governor Chris Kaitson
- Supreme Governor Phanos Pitiris
- Cyprus & Hellenic Affairs Committee Chairman Dr. Zenon Christodoulou
- Executive Director Basil N. Mossaidis
- Consultant Andrew G. Kaffes
American Hellenic Institute (AHI) is a non-profit Greek American think-tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
- President/COO Nick Larigakis
- Vice President James Lagos, Esq.
- Board of Directors Member Nicholas Chimicles
- Board Member Demitri Halakos (Greece only)
- Georgia Halakos (Greece only)
B’nai B’rith International is a worldwide Jewish community service organization widely known as one of the world’s most influential humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organizations.
- International President Charles Kaufman
- Vonne Kaufman
- CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin
- B’nai B’rith International Foundation Chairman Irving Silver
- Frances Silver
- Director of B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Alan Schneider
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is the central coordinating body representing 53 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.
- Chairman Arthur Stark
- Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein
- Former Chairman Stephen Greenberg
- Former Chairman Richard Stone
Founded in 1922 in Atlanta, Georgia, on the principles that undergirded its fight for civil rights and against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred felt at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes with more than 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Europe.
AHEPA’s mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence through community service and volunteerism.
For more information, please visit www.ahepa.org.