WASHINGTON, DC, June 21, 2024 – Many of the most influential foreign policymakers in the United States Congress from both parties and from the Biden Administration, along with Cyprus Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombosparticipated in the 39th Annual PSEKA Cyprus Conference in Washington, DC June 11-13, 2024.

Over 100 Cypriot and Greek-American leaders from across the country converged on Washington, DC for this conference that marked the 50th dark anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of Cyprus. The conference was hosted by PSEKA (the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus) and co-hosted by AHEPA, the Federation of Cypriot Organizations (FCAO), the Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), the Hellenic Bankers Association (HABA) and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC).

Cyprus Capitol Candlelight Vigil

On the first night of the conference, a solemn candlelight vigil was held in front of the US Capitol Building to honor of the victims of the 50-year occupation and division of the Republic of Cyprus.

To show their solidarity for this commemoration of the dark anniversary, the Leader of the United States Senate Chuck Schumer and the Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives Hakeem Jeffries met in the Senate Leader’s office with Cyprus Foreign Minister Kombos and community leaders Dennis MehielPhilip ChristopherAndy Manatos and Savas Tsivicos.

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi along with Hellenic Caucus Co-Chairs Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Vice-Chair Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) and Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) joined Foreign Minister Komobos, Ambassador of Cyprus to the US Evangelos Savva, Ambassador of Greece to the US Ekaterini Nassika, Member of the Hellenic Parliament Nina Kasimati and conference participants at a press conference and vigil on the East Front of the US Capitol Building. Hellenic Caucus Vice Chair Dina Titus (D-NV) was unable to join because of a family emergency but met the next morning with conference participants.

Honorees

 Conference participants met in the White House complex in the beautiful Indian Treaty Room for one hour with President Biden’s most senior advisor responsible for the day-to-day implementation of US policy toward Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, National Security Council Senior Director for European Affairs Michael Carpenter. Carpenter was presented with the Mouyiaris Paraskevaides Award for his efforts over his career to end the division and occupation of Cyprus. This award is given each year to that individual who, like Nikos Mouyiaris and George Paraskevaides, has utilized ancient Hellenic values to contribute to the nations and people of Cyprus and America and to Hellenism in the modern world. Previous recipients of this award have included: Joe Biden (in 2008); Jake Sullivan (in 2014); Speaker Emerita Pelosi; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairs Ed Royce Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Elliot Engel and Ben Gilman; Senator Ted Kennedy and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and Hellenic Caucus Chair Chris Pappas, among others.

Also attending from the Biden Administration was US Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher.

Following the White House meeting, conference participants traveled to Capitol Hill for a welcome reception hosted Foreign Minister Kombos in a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing room.

There they honored the former Chairman and current Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY). He was presented with the Williams Award, previously received by Barack Obama (in 2007), Kamala Harris (in 2019) and Hakeem Jeffries (in 2023).  This award is named after James Williams, an African-American from Baltimore, Maryland who went to Greece in 1821 to fight alongside Hellenes in the Greek War of Independence and was among the casualties of that fight for Greece’s freedom. It is given each year to a U.S. official for their “great contribution, in the spirit of James Williams, to Hellenism and to Hellenes.”

Also honored at this reception was the new Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic Israeli Alliance (CHIA), Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL) with The Frizis Award. Named after Mordechai Frizis, the Jewish Greek hero who was the first high ranking Greek military officer to give his life in defense of freedom against the Axis Powers in 1940, it is awarded each year to a policymaker of Jewish heritage who has made significant contributions to Hellenic issues. The award contains soil from the countries of Greece, the United States and Israel and states “For his commitment to the defense of the principles for which the United States, Israel and Hellenism stand.  From this hallowed earth have come these great principles.” Previous recipients of this award include Tony Blinken, Sandy Berger and Dick Holbrooke, as well as Congressional Committee Chairs Tom Lantos, Ben Gilman, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Carl Levin, Joe Lieberman and Leader Chuck Schumer.

At the conference banquet, the one award presented was to Senator Paul Sarbanes (posthumously) and Congressman John Sarbanes. In honor of their combined over 50 year fight on the front lines for Cyprus, one of the conference’s most prestigious awards was re-named The Sarbanes Freedom Award and they were the award’s first recipients. The award contains an actual piece of the barbed wire that divides the island, and it is given each year to those whose efforts contribute to the eventual removal of this barbed wire and end to the occupation.

The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Ben Cardin, introduced the Sarbanes’ (via video) and paid tribute to their remarkable service to Cyprus, Greece and the United States.

 At the conference closing breakfast, the Conalis-Kontou Award was presented to Helen Alexander and Sophia Cotzia for their decades of selfless service to the community and our causes, in particular the fight for justice for Cyprus.

US Congress

While over 30 US Senators and Members of Congress met with conference participants in less than 24 hours, equally as important was the powerful positions they hold in the US Congress. They included:

In the US House of Representatives:

Leadership

  • House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries(D-NY)
  • Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
  • Assistant Majority Whip / Hellenic Caucus Vice-Chair, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis(R-NY)
  • Assistant Democratic Whip Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester(D-DE) – and likely next US Senator from DE
  • Senior Democratic Whip Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA)

Foreign Affairs Committee

  • Ranking Member, Rep. Gregory Meeks(D-NY)
  • Second-Ranking Democrat, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA)
  • Chair, Europe Subcommittee, Rep. Thomas Kean(R-NJ)
  • Europe Subcommittee / Hellenic Caucus Vice-Chair,  Dina Titus (D-NV)
  • Brad Schneider (D-IL)

Appropriations Committee

  • State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Rep. Grace Meng(D-NY)
  • State Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Rep. Jerry Carl(R-AL)

Armed Services Committee

  • Pat Ryan (D-NY)
  • Donald Norcross (D-NJ)
  • Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

Other Key Policymakers

  • Co-Chair, Hellenic Caucus / Co-Chair, Hellenic Israeli Alliance, Rep. Gus Bilirakis(R-FL)
  • Co-Chair, Hellenic Caucus, Congressman Chris Pappas(D-NH)
  • Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John Sarbanes(D-MD)
  • Ranking Member, House Energy Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone(D-NJ)
  • Chair, National Intelligence Subcommittee, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick(R-PA)
  • Co-Chair, Human Rights Commission, Rep. Jim McGovern(D-MA)
  • Ranking Member, Counterterrorism Subcommittee, Rep. Seth Magaziner(D-RI)
  • Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Rob Menendez, Jr.(D-NJ)
  • Intelligence Committee Member, Rep. Jim Himes(D-CT)

Future and Former Members of Congress

  • Candidate for the US Congress in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, Greek-American Maggie Tamposi Goodlander
  • Candidate for the US Congress in Florida’s 8th Congressional District, Greek-American Mike Haridopoulos
  • Former US Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of former US Senator Ted Kennedy

 

In the US Senate:

Leadership

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Foreign Relations Committee

  • Chairman, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Ranking Member, Senator James Risch (R-ID)
  • Europe Subcommittee Members
    • Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) – also Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
    • Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) – also Chairman, East Asia, Pacific & International Cybersecurity Policy Subc.
    • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) – also Chairman, Near East, South & Central Asia Subc.
  • Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)

Appropriations Committee

  • Chair, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)

Armed Services Committee

  • Senator Dick Blumenthal (D-CT)

 

Special Photo Exhibition from Cyprus

Cyprus Foreign Minister Kombos inaugurated the conference with a special photo exhibition titled “The 50 Years of the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus 1974-2024”. This was the first time the photo exhibition has appeared in the United States with the aim of providing photographic evidence of the displacement and actions of the Turkish occupation and division of Cyprus.

Cyprus Government Participation 

In addition Cyprus Foreign Minister Kombos and Cyprus Ambassador Savva, participants from the Cyprus Government included: from the office of the Foreign Minister, Political Director, Salina Shambos, Office Director, Dimitra Christodoulou, and Head of Communication, Maria Phanti, and Consul General of Cyprus in New York, Michalis Firillas.

The Hellenic Republic was represented by H.E. Ekaterini Nassika, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to the United States and Nina Kasimati, Member of the Hellenic Parliament (SYRIZA).

Community Leaders 

Over 100 Cypriot and Greek-American leaders from across the country attended, including the leadership of the following organizations:

 

US-based Organizations

  • PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus) President, Philip Christopher
  • Coordinated Effort of Hellenes / Manatos & Manatos, CEO, Andy Manatos
  • Friends of St. Nicholas National Shrine Chairman, Dennis Mehiel
  • Washington Oxi Day Foundation Executive Director / The Hellenic Initiative Ambassador, Mike Manatos
  • AHEPA
    • Supreme President, Savas Tsivicos
    • Board Chairman, Nick Karacostas
    • Supreme Secretary, Zenon Christodoulou
    • Executive Director, Basil Mossaidis
    • Hellenic Affairs Director, Peter Theophanous
  • Federation of Cypriot American Organizations (FCAO)
    • President Kyriacos Papastylianou
    • Vice President, Chris Nicolaou
    • Public Relations, Androniko Stylianou
  • PSEKA Alternate President, Tasos Zambas
  • American Hellenic Institute (AHI)
    • President & CEO, Nick Larigakis
    • Executive Director, Zachary Cotronakis
  • Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), Executive Director, Endy Zemenides
  • Cyprus-U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    • President, Maria Pappas
    • Chairman, Nikos Nicolaou
    • Executive Director, Despina Axiotakis
    • President Emeritus, Andreas Comodromos
  • Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Legal Counselor, Peter Kakoyiannis
  • Hellenic American Bankers Association (HABA) Treasurer, Constantinos Kellas
  • Hellenic American National Council (HANC), Immediate Past President, Paul Kotrotsios
  • Asgata Association President, Peter Louca
  • Lampousa Society President, Stavros Kamilaris
  • World Federation of Overseas Cypriots – Young Leaders (NEPOMAK)
    • US President, Andrew Lambiris
    • US Secretary, Yiannis ChristodoulidesCyprus Children’s Fund National Chairman & President, Nicos Zittis
  • Illinois Honorary Consul of Cyprus, Michael Dovellos
  • Texas Honorary Consul of Cyprus, Christos Angelides
  • Texas Honorary Consul of Cyprus, Niki Backos
  • Houston Friends of Cyprus
    • President, Doria Mooneyan-Michael
    • Vice President, Andrew Constantinou
  • Vantage Capital Group Chairman, Dinos Iordanou
  • Florida Pancyprian Association President, Varnavas Zagaris
  • Washington, DC Pancyprian Association President, Dino Miltiadou

International Organizations

  • World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK) President, Andreas Papaevripides
  • World Federation of Overseas Cypriots – Young Leaders (NEPOMAK) President, Chris Turton
  • Cypriot Federation of Canada, Stelios Georgiadis
  • Overseas Cypriot Maronites Association Honorary President, Maria Kokkinou-Boege

Elected Officials

  • Rhode Island State Senator Lou Raptakis
  • Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos

To see more photos from the conference please click here.