NEW YORK – Τhe Consul General of Greece, George Iliopoulos, hosted a reception at the Greek Consulate in Manhattan for Evangelos Venizelos, the Deputy Prime Minster of Greece who was present in New York for the opening of the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations.
As is his custom, Venizelos personally greeted and spoke with virtually every guest. Iliopoulos, who welcomed Venizelos and the Deputy Foreign Minister who accompanied him, also acknowledged Christos Panagopoulos and Michel Spinelis, Greece’s ambassadors to the U.S. and the UN respectively, his colleagues, including Greek Consul Manos Koubarakis, and the leaders of the community who filled the consulate’s reception hall.
Venizelos, joined by his wife Lila, thanked the guests and the hosts and conveyed the warmest patriotic regards of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and President Karolos Papoulias.
After providing an overview of the current situation, Venizelos said that Greece need the support of the community for its economic development. “It is investments that will create jobs and held us overcome the huge great problem of unemployment, especially with regard to the youth of Greece.”
He noted that Greece has tremendous potential and the challenge in to implement “a new model for production in Greece, founded on the strengths of the Greeks, their labor, intelligence and capabilities. Everything begins with our human and natural resources.”
He said the progress made in the tourism sector constitutes a good example, along with the agricultural and food service sectors, but added “I have no better example than yourselves for the demonstrate the meaning of Greek spiritual and intellectual capital.”
As the start of his remarks, Venizelos noted that apropos of the need to emphasize national unity at such events in the diaspora, he would not comment on domestic Greek politics. “Our aim here is to προβαλλο the good name of Greece, the symbols , the successes, our great cultural heritage, and certainly the contemporary story of a Greece that that is emerging from its crisis after five very difficult years, and a seven year recession thanks to the sacrifices of the people of Greece.
He said “the choice to remain in the eurozone was a difficult, with huge political, social and emotional costs. We made that choice because it was the most secure path for the country and which has enabled the men and women of Greece to again have hope that Greece will quickly not only return to its prior state, but will be find itself in a better, more competitive position in Europe and in the World Economy. There was no other choice, enabling Greece to avoid a devastating unruly default.”
Venizelos them paused to emphasize and reassure those present that despite the years of crisis, there was never a negative impact on the national security and the national issues of Greece.
He noted that his meeting the following day with President Nikos Anastasiades of Cyprus was a “good opportunity to present our common national positions on the Cyprus and other regional and international issues and crises” in these turbulent times that touch the Greek people and interests, including fellow Greeks in Ukraine and fellow Christians in the Middle East threatened by ISIS.
He believes, however, that Greece constitutes and island of stability in this sea of chaos, which along with Cyprus has the potential to develop important relationships with Israel and Egypt that will advance regional stability and world peace.
He concluded by emphasizing the importance of the Hellenic Diaspora, especially in America, which abounds in business and academic leaders who are active in American life. He said they have a crucial role to play in combating unjust depictions of Greece and negative stereotypes.
“Your pride in your Greek identity is what will persuade your interlocutors in the business community and in the media,” he said.
Venizelos is looking forward to his meeting with Archbishop Demetrios on September 22 to discuss common initiatives which will bring Hellenes closer together with other Christian communities in order to discuss the very serious matter of the attacks on Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
After again thanking the Consul General , he offered best wishes to everyone present and their families. “All of us must feel for our homeland so that it can reclaim its rightful place in Europe and the world.
Nancy Papaioannou, the new president of Atlantic Bank and President of th Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce, “more favorable conditions have to be created for Greek-Americans who want to purchase property, and both the Chamber and Atlantic Bank can help, and she added “if there anything we ca do to help Greece we will be there.”
Petros Galatoulas, the president of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, pointed out to TNH that this was a typical visit of a high Greek official. He would have liked for event to have taken the form of a gathering of all community leaders at the headquarters of the Federation in Astoria with wide participation in a question and answer session with an opportunity to exchange views. He did have the chance to bring up some issues with him, including the right of diaspora Greeks to vote, to which he said Venizelos gave a positive response.
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