AHI Hosts Welcome Dinner For Greeceʼs Opposition Leader

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a dinner for Mr. Alexis Tsipras, the leader of Greeceʼs main opposition party Syriza, who visited Washington, DC for the first time. The dinner, which was co-sponsored by Greek Dream, Inc., was held at the Capital Hilton on January 22, 2013. During his two-day visit, Mr. Tsipras made a speech at the Brookings Institution and met with U.S. State Department officials and members of Congress.
“We welcome Mr. Alexis Tsipras to Washington,” said AHI President Nick Larigakis, who noted in introductory remarks that Mr. Tsipras was born at a critical time for Greece just days after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. “The ʽbrain drainʼ or the departure of so many talented and promising young Greek people is an issue that is important to him and one to which he personally feels very close.”

President Larigakis also thanked Greek Dream, Inc., and its principal, George Mermelas, who was in attendance, for being a major co-sponsor of the dinner.
In his remarks, Mr. Tsipras provided his perspective of the current state Greece finds itself as the people of Greece endure austerity measures.
“After five years of recession, Greece has lost 25 percent of its GDP,” Tsipras said. “Unemployment is very high and there are very few opportunities for young people. I am close to the generation that now finds themselves without hope in Greece.” According to Tsipras, the partyʼs main priority is to help Greece in this difficult situation and to help people invest in Greece.

He added, “I believe that austerity is dangerous for Greece, Europe and the global economy.”
In addition, Mr. Tsipras emphasized that the partyʼs position is for Greece to remain in the Eurozone, but “not while killing social cohesion and the dreams of our youth or the potential for a life of dignity.”

Mr. Tsipras concluded, “I look forward to coming back to America in the future to support our common interests and to support those of Greece.”
Accompanying Mr. Tsipras to the dinner were: Ambassador Georgios Ayfantis, diplomatic Advisor to Mr. Tsipras; Member of Parliament Rena Dourou, who is a foreign affairs advisor to Mr. Tsipras; Nick Pappas, chief of staff; and Yannis Milios, economic affairs advisor.

Also in attendance at the dinner were: Ambassador of Greece to the U.S. Christos Panagopoulos, Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the U.S. Pavlos Anastasiades, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), former U.S. Ambassadors to Greece Tom Miller and Daniel Speckhard, former U.S. ambassador to Qatar Patrick Theros, Col. Evangelos Papadopoulos, defense and military attaché, Embassy of Greece; William J. Antholis, managing director, The Brookings Institution; Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief,Washington Monthly, Paul Kotrotsios, president, Hellenic American National Council, Mr. George Mermelas, principal, Greek Dream, Inc.; and several members of the AHI Board of Directors.

Tsipras, Advisors Meet with AHI

While in Washington, Mr. Tsipras also met with representatives of AHI, including President Nick Larigakis, Board of Directors Secretary Nick Karambelas, and Board Members Kostas Alexakis and James Marketos at AHIʼs Hellenic House on January 24, 2013. Ambassador Georgios Ayfantis, diplomatic Advisor to Mr. Tsipras and Member of Parliament Rena Dourou also attended.

“We appreciated the opportunity to learn more about Mr. Tsiprasʼ perspective on the issues confronting Greece,” said President Larigakis. “Mr. Tsipras thanked AHI for its decades of work on behalf of the U.S.-Greece relationship and for its work within the community. He also thanked AHI for the assistance it offered during his visit to Washington.”