TAMPA, FL – Greek-American Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), along with a team of colleagues, will visit Greece in October.
Bilirakis told The National Herald that he has been invited by the Greek government to speak before the Parliament.
“I intend to mention the good cooperation between the two nations over the years, and that Greece has always been a good ally of the United States,” he told TNH. “Also, I will talk about how American can do more to help Greece, and how Greece, in turn, can be helpful to the United States,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to show Greece to my colleagues in Congress,” he added. “The visit and the contacts will be useful for both countries.”
Bilirakis said he and the others plan to visit Cyprus as well. “I know President Anastasiades, and it would be good to visit Nicosia.” Bilirakis also hopes to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.
Two House Representatives joining Bilirakis on the trip will be fellow Greek-American John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Philhellene Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The remainder of the delegation has not yet been confirmed, Bilirakis told TNH.
Bilirakis and Maloney co-chair the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic issues, and along with Ted Deutch (D-FL), co-chairs the recently-formed Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance. The visit will help enhance “cooperation and assistance among the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, Bilirakis said.
Bilirakis was first elected to Congress in 2006, replacing his father, Michael, who retired after having served twelve consecutive Congressional terms.
Though the younger Bilirakis is officially listed as representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District “since January 2013,” that is because during his previous time, the area he represented was the 9th District (the redistricting took place in 2012).
Like his father – who consistently strived to advance Greek causes in Congress – Bilirakis has done the same in his Congressional tenure thus far.
In April of last year, Gus Bilirakis introduced a bill, co-sponsored by 17 Representatives including Maloney and Sarbanes, calling for the reunification of Cyprus.
The pertinent text of the bill is as follows:
The House of Representatives calls on the Secretary of State to–
(1) reaffirm the United States commitment to the reunification of the Republic of Cyprus and the establishment of a unified government on Cyprus that guarantees the human rights of all Cypriots and condemns any attempt to use the current economic crisis as a means of imposing a settlement on the people of Cyprus;
(2) condemn any attempt to use the current economic crisis as a means of imposing a settlement on the people of the Republic of Cyprus;
(3) affirm that negotiations for a solution to the problems the Republic of Cyprus faces should only resume once the appropriate preparations take place, so as to ensure that these will be meaningful and result-oriented, allowing for substantial progress and real prospects for a solution; and
(4) communicate through all available means that the United States affirms its policy that the Republic of Cyprus has exclusive dominion and control over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the right to exploit the resources in its EEZ.
Bilirakis is up for reelection in November.