New leaders were elected to lead the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association (WHIA) following a multi-day series of conferences and meetings featuring Greek politicians and foreign dignitaries in Athens this summer.
The association’s newly elected board of directors include Rhode Island Senator Leonidas Raptakis as president; Canadian Provincial Parliament Member Effie Triantafilopoulos as first vice president; Australian Federal Parliament Member Steve Georganas as second vice president and Wyoming Senator Stephan Pappas as treasurer.
The WHIA’s 13th biannual general assembly took place from July 28-30 in Athens and was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution.
Members of the association received greetings from Greek national leadership including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and government ministers. Various foreign ambassadors and foreign service officers also participated in events.
Athens events included a meeting at the Hellenic Parliament and a visit to the Ministry of National Defense, among other activities. The general assembly program followed with a tour of Souda Bay in Crete; a conference on the island of Kastellorizo; a business forum on Rhodes and a visit to Symi.
The purpose of the assembly is to strengthen ties between Greeks abroad and their homeland while promoting mutual interests and raising international awareness of shared issues.
“Even though we are elected in different parts of the world, our roots are Greek and we are here to work very hard for Hellenism, for Greece and for Cyprus,” newly-elected WHIA President Leonidas Raptakis said. “In this information age, we need to encourage vigorous discussions and adopt policies that will put WHIA at the forefront of the effort to build bridges between our member nations.”
The World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association is an organization of elected parliamentarians and legislators of Greek descent living abroad who work together on issues pertaining to Greece and their host nations.
Approximately 90 members live worldwide including 43 from the United States, 20 from Australia, 10 from Canada and others from France, Germany, Israel, Romania, Albania, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
“Over the years, I’ve worked on a variety of issues — from Cyprus to protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other issues of concern,” newly-elected Second Vice President Steve Georganas said. “The WHIA is an important organization for disseminating information and mobilizing Greek communities all over the world.”
Raptakis said the new board will offer “dynamic and outspoken diaspora support” for Greece as the country faces escalated tensions Turkey. The president said he and his colleagues will help Greece’s economic recovery from the pandemic by mobilizing investment and other forms of financial support.
“There are a number of serious issues facing the Greek community worldwide and I want to make sure the WHIA is giving its members the information they need to get involved in resolving these matters,” Raptakis said. “I also want to make sure that when there are challenges facing the Greek community within a particular country, Hellenes worldwide are given the chance to make a difference and offer their support.”
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