AHEPA Supports Bilirakis' Call for Constituent Involvement
in Direct Flights Issue to Northern Cyprus

WASHINGTON—The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is answering the call of U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-9-FL) for constituency involvement and activism on the issue of direct flights from the Republic of Turkey into northern, occupied Cyprus.

Supreme President Franklin R. Manios said, “Congressman Bilirakis has done his part to educate and warn his colleagues about the seriousness of the issue and now it is our responsibility to mobilize our constituents to do the same. We look forward to learning more about the issue from the congressman at our convention next week in Boston.”

According to Manios, AHEPA will stimulate the grassroots by:

* sending a direct mailing to chapters and key members of AHEPA that will be completed by next week,

* sending same mailing to Hellenic organizations asking them to act upon it and pass it along to their members and friends,

* providing a link from www.ahepa.org to Bilirakis’ news release about the issue,

* utilizing its electronic communications network to send Fact and Background Sheets about the issue, and

* posting the Fact and Background Sheets on its Web site, www.ahepa.org for persons to download.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, three Members of Congress and one congressional staff member visited northern, occupied Cyprus (an illegal port of entry) via a direct flight from Turkey. This act is inconsistent with international law because it blatantly disregards the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. According to Manios, as many as 50 congressional staff members could embark on a visit during the August recess in the same detrimental manner.

“We support and encourage visits by U.S. government personnel to northern Cyprus via proper means that respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus,” said Manios. “However, these direct flights from Turkey into the north do not foster the most favorable environment for reconciliation efforts.”

On July 8, 2005, Rep. Bilirakis and 33 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice requesting clarification of the U.S. Department of State’s role in authorizing governmental travel to northern Cyprus. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has sent her own letter to the State Department as well.

“We praise Mr. Bilirakis’ initiative and thank his colleagues who signed the letter to Secretary Rice,” said Manios, who personally wrote to thank two congressmen from his home state of Ohio who signed the letter. 𠇏urther, we appreciate the efforts of Senator Snowe to seek the same clarification of policy.”

AHEPA will identify those Members of Congress who signed the letter to Secretary Rice in its Scorecard for the 109th Congress.

(Posted July 2005)

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus, and "sister" chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922 in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which includes philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence to the community. The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena. For more information about the organization or how to join, contact AHEPA Headquarters (202-232-6300) or visit the organization's newly redesigned website at

HCS maintains an extensive archives of AHEPA articles and press releases which readers are invited to browse under the AHEPA Family Releases section of the site archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html.

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