September 8, 2017 — Athens, Greece
An AJC delegation has concluded a two-day visit to Athens, Greece, following a visit to Israel earlier in the week.
The group, led by AJC CEO David Harris, was joined by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, a longtime AJC partner organization. The purpose of this visit was to discuss issues of mutual concern with key Greek leaders and to consult with the Greek Jewish community.
Among the principal topics of discussion were: (i) The strategic Greece-Cyprus-Israel triangle; (ii) Bilateral relations between Greece and the U.S. and Greece and Israel; (iii) Deepening ties between the Greek-American and Jewish-American diasporas, particularly among young leaders; (iv) Understanding the new waves of migration to Europe, many of whom entered through Greece; (v) and enhancing Holocaust and Israel education programs.
The visit also included discussions with Education and Religious Affairs Minister Kostas Gavroglou; Leader of the Opposition and President of the New Democracy party Kyriakos Mitsotakis; former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras; EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avromopoulous; Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Amanatidis and Terens Quick; U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt; Israeli Ambassador to Greece Irit Ben-Abba; and a leading member of Parliament from the New Democracy party, Kostas Karagounis.
Additionally, the AJC delegation had a two-and-a-half-hour lunch with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece. The discussion focused on challenges faced by the Jewish world, such as increasing evidence of antisemitism emanating from far-right, far-left, and jihadist groups, and how to engage young Jewish leadership.
To welcome Harris—a recipient of a University of Piraeus honorary doctorate in 2016—and AJC back to Greece, the university hosted a dinner for the AJC delegation, which was an opportunity to discuss the current state of global affairs as it is impacting the American, Greek, and Jewish communities.
“More than 35 years ago, AJC and our Hellenic-American partners had a dream to one day see a strategic triangle among democratic Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, at a time when relations were quite chilly and the vision seemed next to impossible” said Harris. “Today, by contrast, it is a thriving, pulsating reality. We’re proud of all that’s been achieved, even as we know that there is still more potential to intensify both bilateral relationships and trilateral partnerships. This visit, we believe, was another step to advance the process.”
Avital Leibovich, Director of AJC Jerusalem, was also part of the delegation, and has been a frequent visitor to Athens.