By Nick Stamatakis

An event that could be marked as the “who is who” of the Greek American civic associations’ leaders in the New York Metro Area and beyond took place last night in the Terrace on the Park, where the Chian Federation honored with the Ionian Medal of Honor New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.  Over the years, Senator Menendez has proven to be a tremendous help to all the Greek causes, particularly in dealing with the Turkish threats in the Aegean and Cyprus. The honors were well deserved, and the broad participation of the community proved their appreciation, the heartfelt thanks of all for the great job he has been doing in Congress…

Our readers know that I regularly criticize the connection between money and politics. I could be critical of any politician our lobby supports in DC and list many reasons for my critique.  But when we see the tangible results of someone’s effort to help Greece and Cyprus, it is time for sincere congratulations!  As a community, we have supported many politicians in Congress financially and with our votes for the past five decades.  But we can count on the one hand those who have produced real results comparable with Senator Menendez’s achievements!!

As in all such stories, there is a not-so-visible aspect to this, and she hears in the name of Nadine (Arslanian), the Senator’s wife, of Armenian (Lebanese) descent.  Nadine’s Armenian roots certainly had much to do with Senator Menendez’s strong support of Greek causes.  The affinity and friendship between the two ethnicities are as old as their long, troubled history. But during the last 120 years since the early 20th century, it shares a common denominator that supersedes all else: Both Armenians and Greeks were the victims of Genocide by the Turks in Asia Minor, where both people have resided for millennia.  It is a powerful bond… And it has recently translated into the recognition of Hellenic Genocides in the first paragraph of the Congressional Resolution that recognized the Greek Genocides in May 2019…

Photo: Senator Menendez and wife Nadine as they entered the hall last night…

The rest of the story has a lot to do with Philip Christopher, Tassos Zambas, and the leaders of the Cypriot organizations who did all the hard work of approaching and continuously maintaining the relationship with Senator Menendez to the highest possible level.  And since we spoke about the recognition by Congress of the Armenian Genocide, let me remind you that Kim Kardashian alone spent over $10 million of her own money for this 2019 Congressional Resolution!

When last night Philip Christopher took the microphone, he did not miss these complex realities of the lobbying business in DC, where everything is determined by financial support.  “We got to meet almost 50 members of Congress last week in the PSEKA convention,” he underlined… And he continued: “But the biggest positive news of the week was the re-election of Erdogan in Turkey,” he added with a sigh of relief.  Indeed all of us were happy to hear that Erdogan had won the first round (and is likely to win the second one): this will likely put a damper on the State Department’s not-so-hidden efforts to force Greece and Cyprus to give up sovereign rights to satisfy Turkey and attract her back to the Western camp… All is not about how much money is spent in DC – we need luck and help from above…

Photo: Markos Marinakis at the podium

The rest of the story undoubtedly has to do with the Chian Federation’s leaders, and the one who excelled last night was Markos Marinakis, who was in command last night and was the one who introduced the honoree.  John Condolios, the outgoing President of the Chian Federation, Koula Kalogera, the incoming President, and George Almiroudis, the master of ceremonies, also played key roles.  The ambassadors of Greece and Cyprus, and a congresswoman from Queens, Ms. Grace Meng, were also present and addressed the participants.  The presentation was highlighted by Ms. Constantina Tsouklidis and her exceptional performance of the National Anthems and the Cypriot Folk Dance Ballet…

PHOTO: Senator Menendez addressed the event and hinted at a possible effort to resolve the Greece-Turkey disputes in the Aegean after the elections in both countries, but not if Turkey does not stop violating Greek territorial waters and sovereign rights.

The night’s surprise was the late appearance of NYC Mayor Eric Adams – unfortunately after the Senator had left.  The Mayor stayed for about half an hour, visited most tables, and was photographed with many, especially the children…

I will close this brief report with a warning to all our community leaders, especially those handling lobbying efforts.  It seems to me that the “feeding the beast” times in DC are approaching the end in the next couple of years.  In the rising multi-polar world, we must re-structure our organizations globally.  And we will need to ground this new structure on the four ecumenical foundations of Hellenism: Navigation, Diaspora, Orthodoxy, and Culture. We must repair Diaspora and Orthodoxy because they have been undermined under the negative influence of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the US State Department on the Constantinople Patriarchate. And we must put our shipowners (navigation) at the center of this effort: they are the best representatives of Hellenism globally and instinctively know how to turn geopolitical hurdles into big wins. The Chians are the best captains and biggest shipowners among the Greeks – and if they follow these thoughts I posted here, Hellenism will be the great winner!!


  1. Thank you Niko and to all that attended and supported the event. This event was the Chian Federation’s Ionian Award. It supports the Federations many programs such as medical equipment and supplies for the Chios hospital and clinics, sisitio of the Chios Metropolis, children with disabilities, Chios nursing home, scholarships. Senator Menendez was honored for the reasons you stated in your article above, and that is he’s unwavering support to Greece and Cypress. It is unsettling when you are in Chios and hear and see Turkish Air Force jets flying above you.
    Thank you and congratulations to the co-chairs of Ms. Anna Condouli and Mr. Marko Maninaki for their hard work to the great success of the event.

    Nick Poulis
    Chian Federation executive committee

    • Ionian refers to the Asia Minor and Eastern Aegean area, historically the birthplace of Ancient Greek civilisation..


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