Washington, DC, January 14, 2020 – Several of the top national Hellenic and Orthodox organizations came together to co-host a luncheon in honor of the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Mrs. Mareva Mitsotaki on the occasion of his first visit to Washington, DC as Prime Minister. This visit signaled an historic apex moment in bilateral relations between Greece and America.
Meetings and events from this extremely successful trip included: at the White House, an Oval Office meeting with President Donald Trump, a Cabinet Room meeting with the President and top US Cabinet Members and Officials and Greek Ministers accompanying the Prime Minister; at the State Department, a beautiful reception, co-hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room; and on Capitol Hill, a bipartisan Congressional leadership meeting hosted by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and attended by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and others; and a meeting co-hosted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Chairman Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and attended by an unusually high 12 Foreign Relations Committee Members. They included: Senators Risch, Menendez, Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The January 8 luncheon with the “Omogenia” at the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel showcased Greek-American diaspora leaders from across the country. It was co-hosted by several of the top national Hellenic and Orthodox organizations whose leadership was in attendance. They were, in alphabetical order: AHEPA, AHI, HALC, the International Coordinating Committee – Justice For Cyprus – PSEKA, Leadership 100, the Order of Saint Andrew – Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Washington Oxi Day Foundation.
Opening remarks were offered by the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, who, with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, attracted over 22,000 people to the Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs, Florida two days before. The Prime Minister was introduced by the President of the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, Andy Manatos, on behalf of the hosting organizations.
In his remarks Mitsotakis presented an outline of the new course he has set for Greece and for Greece’s bilateral relations with America. He emphasized economic prosperity for the people of Greece, heightened regional leadership for Greece and a strong commitment to the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership of Israel, Cyprus, Greece and America. The Prime Minister was accompanied by several Ministers and senior advisors including:
- Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos;
- Development and Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis;
- Education and Religious Affairs Minister Niki Kerameus;
- Deputy Minister and Government Spokesperson Stylianos Petsas;
- Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy Kostas Fragogiannis;
- Diplomatic Cabinet Director and incoming Ambassador of Greece to the US Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou
- Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who came to DC with the Prime Minister, had to depart the day before this luncheon.
An impressive bi-partisan group of previous and current top Hellenic and Philhellenic American policymakers and private sector political power brokers attended this presentation and the following half hour of personal conversations with the Prime Minister. They included, to name a few:
- Secretary of Health and Human Services (and fellow Orthodox Christian) Alex Azar;
- US Congressman Charlie Crist, Congressman Chris Pappas and Congresswoman Dina Titus;
- US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt;
- Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback;
- Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker;
- Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce;
- Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer;
- State Department Director of Southern European Affairs Maria Olson
- US Circuit Judge for the US Court of Appeals Gregory Katsas
- White House Social Secretary Rickie Niceta
- Vice President’s Director of Public Liaison Sarah Makin
- Vice President’s Deputy Counsel Eleni Roumel Olmem
- White House National Security Council Director of European Affairs Nicholas Kass
- Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Tommy Andrews
- White House Office of Public Liaison Director of Operations Alexandra Veletsis
- Former Secretary of HHS and current President of American University Sylvia Mathews Burwell
- Former Deputy Secretary of State and Former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte
- Former US Ambassadors to Greece Dan Smith and Charlie Ries
- Former US Ambassador to Belgium Tom Korologos
- Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell
- Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter
- Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
- Former White House Director of Advance George Gigicos
- Former White House Office of Public Liaison Director George Sifakis
- Former Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Alex Angelson
- Former HHS Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs Jack Kalavritinos
- Former Department of Energy Chief Financial Officer John Vonglis