Cyprus, Hellenic Leadership Conference Ends

Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce (R-CA) receiving an award at the 2013 PSEKA Conference

Last week was a significant one for political advocacy for the Greek-American and Cypriot-American community in the United States. PSEKA hosted its 29th annual conference in Washington D.C. Like every year, the conference gathered over 100 politically active Greek-Americans and Cypriot-Americans to the capital to discuss security developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Attendees at the conference included among others the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representative, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) who was honored for his steadfast support of Hellenic issues, the former Chairman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and other US Members of Congress including Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Tony Cardenas (D-CA).

As part of the conference, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) received the Mordochai Frizis Award, for his steadfast commitment to the Cyprus cause. During his award acceptance speech, Rep. Engel mentioned the recent meeting that Congressional leaders had with Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he described as arrogant in his recent interactions with Members of Congress. Another notable speaker was Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) who briefed the audience on his comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that was recently introduced in the US Senate and in particular on the provision that would allow Greeks to enter the US temporarily for up to three years to work in the US as long they spend some time teaching the Greek language.

American Hellenic Council director, Alexander Mizan, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA).

Another notable presence at this year’s PSEKA conference was that of the American Jewish community with several high-level participants in attendance. The AJCs presence this year shows not only the closer working relationship between the Greek-American and the Jewish-American communities within the United States political advocacy circles but a much closer relationship between Israel, Greece and the Cyprus in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean, especially with regards to energy exploration but also with regards to bilateral trade and security cooperation.

AJC Executive Director David Harris and Andy Manatos both talked about how an effort that started years ago from the Greek and Jewish ethnic communities of the United States spread and translated recently to closer cooperation between the actual governments in Athens, Jerusalem and Nicosia and how this relationship has room to grow further in the future.