By Apostolis Zoupaniotis
Representatives of major Greek American organizations will meet in Washington on June 4 - 6 with over 40 of the most powerful and influential Senators and members of Congress, in the framework of the 35th Annual PSEKA Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference.
Elaborating on the goals of the Conference, PSEKA President Philip Christopher said that their first goal is to promote the East Mediterranean Partnership Legislation. "Second, the arms embargo imposed by the United States to Cyprus. Third, the islamization of the occupied areas of Cyprus, and Fourth, to support the efforts to stop the delivery of the F-35s to Turkey,” he noted.
Cyprus Presidential Commissioner, Photis Photiou, will represent the government of Cyprus at the Conference and brief the delegates on the latest developments. The Government of Greece will be represented by Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis.
Briefings will also be given by the Ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus to the United States, Haris Lalacos and Marios Lyssiotis, respectively.
Philip Christopher said the timing of the Conference is good and time has come for the United States to recognize that Turkey is a non-reliable ally.
“We will be meeting with the top policymakers in the US, Senate and the U. House of Representatives, including the leading Democrat in the Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Menendez, the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel, the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, etc," he noted. It is yet not clear who they will meet from the State Department and the National Security Council,.
“We are trying to institutionalize the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership by allocating funds to Cyprus, in order to maintain a close relationship with the United States. We are pushing for sponsorships on all these fronts from members of the Senate and the House”, Christopher said.
“It is a very good opportunity for all the members of our Community to join us in this effort”, the President of PSEKA said. He also noted that he is very proud that every major Greek American organization is co-sponsoring, including AHEPA, AHI, HALC, the Federation of Cypriot American Organizations AND THE Cyprus-US Chamber of Commerce.
“This is as concerted effort; no single individual or organization can do it by themselves,” he said. He also pointed out the participation in the Conference of members of the American Jewish Committee leadership, including AJC’s executive director David Harris, who will speak on June 5th.
Philip Christopher expects the pressure on the U.S. Administration to be increased, in order to keep up the pace with the Congress in the EastMed bill and noted that he is encouraged by the latest statements by the State Department officials.
But he is not optimistic on the prospects of a solution of the Cyprus issue, given the Turkish positions.
“How could one be optimistic when Turkey keeps threatening the Republic of Cyprus? Their objectives are very clear, they don’t want a solution. But, despite of the absence of a solution, the United Stated and the Republic of Cyprus should come together, especially now that Turkey is involved with Russia and the purchase of the S-400 missiles. This gives the opportunity for Greece and Cyprus to upgrade their relationship with the United States and the key to this is Israel. Both Israel and Egypt are parts of the trilateral partnerships Greece and Cyprus promote for the Security and Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said.
The list of the policymakers that will speak at the 35th Conference includes: Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Middle East Subcommittee and author of the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership Act (HR 2913), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee author of the Eastern Mediterranean Partnership Act (S. 1102) Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Human Rights Subcommittee, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Presidential Candidates, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH).