Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Wednesday evening reiterated – the second time in a week – that the country will resolutely defend all of its sovereign rights, speaking after being honored at the 99th Anniversary AHEPA Supreme Convention.
The convention is taking place in Athens.
Delegates of the oldest and most distinguished Greek-American organization have gathered in the Greek capital since last Sunday, with this year’s convention held in Greece to commemorate the bicentennial of the beginning of the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
In referring to bilateral relations with the United States, the pro-reform and center-right Greek prime minister said strategic cooperation is constantly increasing, while repeating Athens’ dedication to resolving regional differences based on international law – a barely veiled reference to Turkey.
He also noted from the podium of the AHEPA convention that Greece will steadfastly continue to support and contribute all it can towards the reunification of fraternal Cyprus.
Turning to an issue that is dear to many Greek-Americans who are Greek citizens and retain the right to vote in the elections in their native land, Mitsotakis said a first step has been taken by his government to reverse a long-standing injustice, even though a fully unhindered right to vote from one’s place of residence overseas remains to be achieved.
Finally, Mitsotakis dedicated his award to healthcare professionals now battling against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similarly, the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, was also honored during the same event, saying he accepts the award «on behalf of the Cypriot people».
In his address, Anastasiades reiterated what he called the will of the Cypriot people to reunite their divided island.
Among a handful of distinguished Greeks honored at the event for his philanthropy and social responsibility was shipowner and businessman Evangelos Marinakis, Founder & Chairman of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp.
In honoring Marinakis, AHEPA Supreme President George Horiates said:
We would like to honor today Mr. Evangelos Marinakis. He is the Founder & Chairman of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp. He is one of the leading shipowners in the maritime industry and has been recognized by Lloyd’s List over the last decade as one of the top 100 global shipping personalities.
He is President and owner of Olympiacos F.C and owner of Nottingham Forest F.C. He owns the largest media group in Greece – Alter Ego Media S.A., that includes the renowned newspapers TO VIMA and TA NEA, MEGA Channel TV, One Channel, in.gr and several magazines.
Since 2014 Mr. Marinakis has been elected twice consecutively first member of the Piraeus City Council with record votes in the history of local council elections.
Besides his business and sporting interests, Mr. Marinakis also actively supports a number of charitable causes both in Greece and around the world.
In order to preserve access to higher education about Modern Greece abroad, Mr. Marinakis participated as lead sponsor in the establishment of the «Miltiadis Marinakis Endowed Professorship for Modern Greek Language and Culture» at The Ohio State University, where the local Greek community and Ohio Hellenic Paideia initiated and completed a round of fundraising between 2015-2020, in order to safeguard the continuing operation of a department that was destined to close.
The chair of the program has been named after Mr. Marinakis’ late father, Miltiadis Marinakis, a well-respected philanthropist, who instilled in Mr. Marinakis a sense of duty toward his fellow man and pride in his Greek heritage.
Mr. Evangelos Marinakis also actively supports a number of charitable causes including UNICEF through its partnership with Olympiacos, a wide range of community and infrastructure projects across the port city of Piraeus, including most recently hospital equipment for the alleviation of the Covid-19 pandemic, food and clothing during the refugee crisis as well as for the less fortunate citizens of the Piraeus municipality, while he has been active in a multitude of cultural initiatives including among others the commemoration of the victims of the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus and support to the Kazantzakis Museum in Crete since 2014.”
Evangelos Marinakis’ award was accepted on his behalf by the Chief Communications Officer of Capital Ship Management Corp., Niki Kalogiratou, who commented: «Thank you very much. It is a great honor for Mr. Marinakis to receive this award from AHEPA. He is very sorry that he could not be here today, as he had obligations that were planned much earlier, regarding the presence of Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Mr. Marinakis asked me to convey his gratitude to you for this honorary distinction. It is very important, as he shares with AHEPA a common commitment to the Greek ideals of παιδεία, φιλανθρωπία, εὐεργεσία.
After a massive second wave of Greek immigration in the recent years, it is more necessary today than ever, to strengthen Greek culture and education abroad. In this respect the creation of the ‘Miltiadis Marinakis Professorship for Modern Greek Language and Culture’ at the Ohio State University was an imperative.
As we celebrate the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek War of Independence, we continue to spread the spirit of modern Greece and its ideals all over the world, especially in the U.S. which is home to the largest and most vibrant community of the Greek diaspora».
Mr. Evangelos Marinakis was honored by AHEPA for his social responsibility in the context of the 99th Annual AHEPA Family Supreme Convention.
The whole speech of the prime minister is as follows
Welcome to Greece, welcome to Athens. We are very happy that we can welcome you here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I had prepared certain points for my address, but allow me to speak from the heart today, inspired by what I seen here in this hall. You chose to come to Greece this year, something that has a particular historical significance –marking the 200 years since Greeks rose up to fight for their freedom; to establish a nation-state in the Balkan Peninsula.
This was a revolution inspired by the American Founding Fathers and the solid and continuous ties between the two countries, which are becoming even stronger.
We have fought side by side in all the major wars. We have always defended freedom, dignity and the pursuit of prosperity. And truly, at this very moment I believe we can contemplate what we have achieved as a country; a country that would never become what it is today without the strength of the Greek communities abroad. I thank you for that you have done for Greece. I thank you for all that you have done for Hellenism.
Our country’s history, a history of 200 years, as one of our pre-eminent historians has wrote, is indeed a history of triumphs and disasters; of moments when we achieved spectacular deeds, but also one of traumatic and painful tragedies. No other moment was as painful, Mr. President, as was the tragedy of Cyprus 47 years ago. Cyprus remains a divided island under occupation. And I can assure you, and I can assure the people of Cyprus, as I can assure all Greeks in Greece and abroad, that we will dedicate all of our energy towards the goal of promoting free and reunited Cyprus.
I had the privilege to spend seven years of university studies in the United States, as Antonis already mentioned. I have very strong ties with the Greek-American community.
Dear George, I would like to praise AHEPA for all its achievements, and the fact that it was always there, in good times and difficult times. AHEPA has always been present in the just struggles of Hellenism. We know we can count on you, and you know you can count on us.
When I became prime minister, I had the opportunity to overturn a blatant injustice by the Greek state for many, many decades now. I committed to giving the right to vote to Greek citizens living abroad, without requiring them to return to Greece in order to exercise their voting rights. I want to be sincere with you. Our work has not been completed yet. We have completed half the job, because there are still significant obstacles that do not allow many of you to truly participate in Greece’s political affairs.
We were not able to muster the necessary majority in Parliament to overcome this last obstacle; but the first step has been taken. I also committed to simplifying transactions with the Greek state by digitizing all government services, and digitizing services at our consulates.
This so you can interact with the Greek state in a dignified manner, using modern technology, simply and easily. And we’ve taken other significant steps and recorded noteworthy progress towards this direction. But at the end of the day, the goal is to unite our forces, our energy, in order to build a new, more vibrant, more optimistic and confident country.
As you know, we have passed through a very, very difficult decade. I believe that as we now celebrate the 200 years since the beginning of the Greek struggle for independence, we have every reason to be optimistic over the future of Greece. I want you to be proud of Greece, and not just because of its glorious past.
We often speak about this and have every reason to do this. I also want you to be proud because this country has an incredibly bright future; and the future of this country is its people; its people in Greece and its people abroad.
This interaction between Greeks living in Greece and Greeks of the Diaspora creates a huge dynamism in determining what we can achieve as a country. Our economy is improving. We will soon record rapid growth over the next few years. Greece is attracting investments, as it has never done before. We were able to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner that surprised many. We performed better than many countries that had invested much more in their healthcare system.
And this allows me the opportunity to pay homage to and dedicate this very special award to the nursing staff and physicians of the Greek Health System, who worked very hard and tirelessly to combat this invisible enemy.
At the same time, I feel, Mr. Ambassador, that the relationship between Greece and the United States is not only getting stronger, but is blazing a path of strategic importance for both our countries, something that causes us to feel extremely optimistic. You well know that we’ve faced major challenges at the regional level for the past two years, yet we remain constant in our beliefs that if we rely on the fundamental principles of international law, in the principle of good-neighborly relations, that we will be in a position to deal with these difficulties.
At the same time, Greece has demonstrated that it will defend its sovereignty and its sovereign rights, when and where this is necessary.
In conclusion, allow me to reiterate how happy I am that I see you all in Greece; how optimistic I am for the connection between the Greek state and AHEPA, and how encouraging it is to see the dynamism of the Greek-American community. This is the best moment to come closer to Greece. You have stood by our side in difficult times.
I now firmly believe that the best times are before us, and that a hopeful future is opening for our country. I want you, the Greek-American community, and AHEPA to comprise a part of this very promising future. And when we meet again, and we tally the achievements that we’ve made, we will be truly proud; proud to be Greeks; proud to be part of the global community of Greeks – in the country and abroad, who always, but always, strive to achieve the best for our country.
Accepting the Award, President Anastasiades expressed deep emotion and said that «I consider this honor, which I accept with sincere gratitude as an honor to the country and the people I represent and as a genuine appreciation for the long struggles of the Cypriot Hellenism for freedom, justice and independence.
Your decision to award this Award dictates that we continue with the same determination and perseverance in fulfilling the duties and obligations I have undertaken towards the Cypriot people, with the most important being nothing more than the reunification of our divided island.
Today’s honor is valuable if someone considers that it is awarded by an Organization that has been successful in promoting and defending the ideals, values and principles of Hellenism for almost a century.
Since its founding in 1922, AHEPA has strengthened over the years and not only has preserved the Greek language, identity and cultural heritage in the USA, but has managed to develop a truly inspiring philanthropic and humanitarian work that has contributed more than billions of euros for noble purposes.
At the same time, AHEPA has taken a leading role in promoting the strategic relationship between Greece – Cyprus and the United States.
A partnership that is of great geopolitical importance and I am pleased to say that it has been enriched in recent years through a number of important initiatives and tangible results, such as, among many others, the energy and security cooperation between the US and the tripartite cooperation of Cyprus, Greece and Israel».
President Anastasiades also underlined AHEPA’s support for the sovereignty and exercise of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, away from Turkey’s unilateral and illegal actions at sea and on land.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, President Anastasiades pointed out the Turkish illegal actions in the besieged city of Famagusta and the blatant violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions by Turkey.
A behavior by Turkey that continues despite repeated calls from the international community, including the United States, to reverse these actions.
«The power to defend our national interests and the values of Hellenism lies in our unity», the President said, adding that for this, in close cooperation with the Greek Government, we have succeeded in achieving a strong condemnation of Turkey’s actions by the UN and EU Security Council «.
He also called on AHEPA to exert its influence on the US Government, so that once again our fair fight can be promoted and it can be understood in Turkey that no discounts can be made in terms of the application of international law.
«Turkey’s policy of intimidation cannot continue and we cannot remain inactive in the developments that are torpedoing our efforts to restart the negotiation process», he said, adding that «the step-by-step approach, which is based on testing the limits and the reactions of the international community to the issue of Famagusta, should not be tolerated».
Finally, the President said that «the Republic of Cyprus will continue to support you in all possible ways, in order to further our common goals».