AJC, HALC mark fifth anniversary of congressional Greece-Israel alliance

AJC, HALC mark fifth anniversary of congressional Greece-Israel alliance

Diplomats, members of Congress, Greek-American and Cypriot-American partners, and leaders of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) gathered at the Greek Ambassador’s residence earlier this week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance (CHIA).

The congressional caucus aims to raise awareness and encourage US support for the trilateral relationship between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.

This year’s anniversary events coincided with a trilateral summit in Nicosia.

The caucus, which includes over 40 members, was launched in February 2013 at a meeting of leaders from AJC and the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and Congressmen Gus Bilirakis, who co-chairs the caucus, and Ted Deutch.

The reception was preceded by an afternoon of panel discussions with think tank analysts, officials from advocacy organizations and former and current government officials about the ongoing developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. The discussions were moderated by Tom Ellis, Editor in Chief of Kathimerini English Edition.

The anniversary celebration culminated with a day of joint advocacy, which included meetings with over 40 congressional offices on issues of mutual interest. Greek and Jewish advocates promoted a House resolution encouraging the strengthening of relations of Israel and other countries. They also called for a bill to end the Cyprus arms embargo.

“In the five years that HALC and AJC have worked to support this caucus, we have seen the trilateral links among Greece, Cyprus, and Israel increase dramatically,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of HALC.

“This strategic partnership that started with energy diplomacy has blossomed to include serious cooperation related to civil defense, legal frameworks, joint military exercises, and counterterrorism,” he said adding that “the three western democracies working together with the United States can increase stability and security in the region.”

Speaking at the same event, AJC CEO David Harris described the relationships enjoyed by Israel, Cyprus and Greece as “a new example of cooperation in a world that desperately needs such examples.”

“More than 35 years ago, the hope that these nations could form such inextricable bonds was elusive. Now, these anchors in the turbulent eastern Mediterranean form a strategic triangle which not only benefits the three nations, but directly benefits the United States and our considerable interests in this part of the world,” Harris said adding that the partnership could in time extend to Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the region.

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