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Monday, 16 March 2015 12:19

March 12, 2015 – Athens -- A senior AJC leadership group just concluded a two-day visit to Greece.

The six-member 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 (KIS), an AJC partner organization, and Andrew Manatos, a prominent leader of the Hellenic-American community.

The visit was highlighted by a private meeting with recently-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. During the discussion, Tsipras spoke of his commitment to addressing Greece's very difficult economic situation, and reaffirmed his country's ties with the U.S., the European Union, and Israel. Moreover, he underscored his strong commitment to denouncing all forms of anti-Semitism.

The group also met with other senior Greek officials, including Defense Minister Panos Kammenos; Minister of Culture, Education, and Religious Affairs Aristides Baltas; Alternate Foreign Minister Nikolaos Hountis (a previously confirmed meeting with the Foreign Minister was cancelled due to his illness); President of the New Democracy political party and former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras; and President of the Potami political party Stavros Theodorakis.


In addition, the delegation had in-depth meetings with the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors and their top staff colleagues, as well as with the national leadership of KIS.

Among the principal topics discussed during the visit were: (i) efforts to achieve progress in Greece's dramatic economic situation; (ii) attempts to combat anti-Semitism, including the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political movement; (iii) the strengthening and deepening of ties among the U.S., Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, which has been a key AJC priority for more than three decades; and (iv) threats to stability in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, as well as the Russian-instigated crisis in Ukraine.

"We came to Athens as long-time friends of Greece. In our excellent meetings, we heard deep appreciation for the strong ties between Greece and the U.S., and an understanding among the country's new leaders of the importance of the strategic partnership between Greece and Israel," said Harris. "In this era of regional and global instability, the significance of Greece, as a vibrant democracy and NATO ally in a vitally important part of the world, where Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa all practically meet one other, cannot be overstated."

In addition to frequent visits to Greece over the past 30-plus years, AJC maintains close ties with Greek leaders through its diplomatic representatives abroad and via Diaspora communities across the U.S. and in Europe. During the far-reaching economic crisis in Greece, AJC has made several grants from its Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Humanitarian Fund to help support the Jewish community and contribute to the country's public health needs.

Prior to Athens, the AJC group was in Sofia, where they met with the President of Bulgaria, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Parliament, and other political leaders and diplomats, as well as with the leadership of Shalom, the national Jewish organization.

Press Release: AJC, March 12, 2015


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