“Greece is back!”, exclaimed PM Alexis Tsipras, during his visit to Chicago. Learn more about his historic visit to Chicago & Washington, DC.
Alexis Tsipras in Chicago
Over the last few days, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Chicago for a series of meetings and a reception at the National Hellenic Museum, designed to promote U.S. investments in Greece. While Chicago has welcomed many Greek dignitaries, including former President Kostis Stephanopoulos; Member of Parliament Dora Bakoyiannis; European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos (then-mayor of Athens); and most recently, Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura, a Greek premier has not previously visited Chicago. PMs typically have opted for New York and DC, leaving Chicago Greeks – historically one of the U.S.’ largest Greek populations – feeling slighted. That all changed this weekend, when Alexis Tsipras came to Chicago. His visit was not only historic, but validated Chicago Greeks for their continued strong ties and love for Greece.
Mr. Tsipras, and his official delegation, which included Economy Minister Dimitris Papadimitriou, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas, and Deputy Foreign Minister Terence Quick, flew in late on Friday, October 13. Joining them, were the U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, and Greek Ambassador to the U.S., Haris Lalacos.
October 14 was a day of meetings with prominent Chicago Greeks, including John P. Calamos, Sr. and John S. Koudounis of Calamos Investments; Translate.com Founder & CEO Anthos Chrysanthou; Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas; Diamond Wine Importers’ Ted Diamantis; Cinespace Film Studios’ Alexander Pissios, and Hellenic American Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides, to name a few. Mr. Tsipras reaffirmed Greece’s commitment to attracting foreign investment.
Reception at National Hellenic Museum
On October 15, a special reception was held at National Hellenic Museum. Consul General Polyxeni Petropoulou introduced members of the delegation. John Koudounis highlighted the importance of the event.
“This is a celebration of our strong relationship – Greece and the USA – and our connection to Hellenism, and each other. We’re proud and humbled that the National Hellenic Museum was chosen for this event. It validates the museum’s purpose. We’re confident that the bond between our two countries will be strengthened when the prime minister meets with the President of the United States this week.”
Mr. Tsipras praised Greek-Americans.
“Thank you for the work you do every day to support Greece, and to promote Greek culture, Greek history, and the Greek heritage. Greece looks at you with a great sense of pride, for all that you have done, all that you have accomplished here in Chicago, in the United States… and for all the dynamism and promise you bring to the City of Chicago.”
He proclaimed Greece’s recovery.
“Greece is back! When I say back, I do not mean back to the past that brought us to the crisis. We leave behind not only the crisis but the model that brought us to it.”
Mr. Tsipras called U.S. support during the crisis “crucial”, and asked for the support of the Hellenic community to bring investments to Greece.
He added that he was proud to be the first prime minister to visit Chicago, and felt the obligation to speak Greek, “where the Hellenic community is strong historically…here at the National Hellenic Museum, where the heartbeat of Hellenism beats in Chicago.”
On behalf of the people of Greece, Mr. Tsipras thanked Greek-Americans “for not forgetting Greece”. He asked for our help, and called Greek-Americans, “the most important ambassadors of Hellenism in a very powerful and important country.”
Alexis Tsipras at Chicago Council of Global Affairs, 1871
This morning, he addressed the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, on “Greece as a Strategic Partner for the US in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.” There, Mr. Tsipras praised Greek-Americans.
“The vibrant Greek-American community is one we look to with pride. It’s a community that brings out the best of our two nations.”
He said there’s “a lot to be learned here to enhance efforts to promote sustainable growth in Greece following seven consecutive years of severe, deep crisis and recession.” He added that Greece is “finally coming out” of this crisis.
The premier then visited Chicago’s center for technology and innovation hub, 1871, which recently hosted Greek start-up, Istmos.
Today, Mr. Tsipras’ meetings included Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
Tsipras in Washington
The prime minister is scheduled to leave Chicago on Monday evening, to head to Washington, DC. There he will meet with Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF. He’ll also meet with the American Hellenic Institute, and delegation from AHEPA, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump. Mr. Tsipras is scheduled to meet with Vice President on Mike Pence on Wednesday.
Ahead of the Greek premier’s arrival in Chicago, Ambassador Pyatt referred to the visit as “a symbol of commitment to the existing partnership and the readiness to further boost it”. He added that the U.S. will look for ways to encourage more U.S. investment to Greece. There are certainly many opportunities to be explored.We hope this trip will lead to more cooperation between the two countries.