March 6, 2014 – Athens – An AJC senior leadership delegation just concluded a three-day visit to Greece.
The 12-member AJC delegation, led by AJC President Stanley Bergman, and Executive Director David Harris, was joined by leaders of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, an AJC partner organization, and Andrew Manatos, a prominent representative of the Greek-American community.
The group met with top-level officials in the Greek government, including Prime Minister Antonis Samaras; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Evangelos Venizelos; Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Minister of Public Order Nikos Dendias; Minister of Culture Panos Panagiotopoulos, who hosted a dinner for the group; and Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos.
The delegation also met with the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to Greece, as well as members of the Greece-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Committee, including its chairman, Kostas Karagounis of the New Democracy Party, and representatives of four other political parties -- PASOK, Syriza, Democratic Left, and Independent Greeks.
"In all our meetings, we heard strong support for strategic ties with both Israel and the United States, as well as condemnation of racism, including the vile, neo-Nazi ideology promoted by the Golden Dawn,” said Harris. "Moreover, we were heartened by the progress being achieved in Greece's economic situation, even as much more remains to be done in the months and years ahead. We came to Greece as deeply committed friends, and we leave Greece as deeply committed friends."
Aside from regular visits to the Greek capital over the past three decades, AJC has maintained robust relationships with Greek leaders through engagement with diplomats and diaspora communities in regional offices around the country and AJC's network of offices in Europe.
Reflecting the views of several of the Greek leaders with whom the group met, Defense Minister Avramopoulos described AJC as "one of the architects of the strategic partnership" that today characterizes the relationship among Greece, the U.S., Cyprus, and Israel.
David Harris is AJC Executive Director, Edward and Sandra Meyer Office of the Executive Director.