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Ambassador Kaskarelis was honored with the Soil Award during the 28th annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by PSEKA/CEH
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I thank you very much for this honor that you are bestowing upon me and which I humbly accept.
I embarked on my diplomatic career some 38 years ago. During this time, I have encountered many people and received several awards. But, with age and experience comes the wisdom to value some acknowledgements more than others for the mere fact that they are offered from the heart. And I believe this award does come from the heart; it comes from people with whom I have had the privilege to work with for many years, and to create deep and lasting friendships.
Throughout my entire diplomatic career, I have made it a point to be frank, honest, and pragmatic, not only in my assessment of the challenges I have been called upon to deal with, but also in my collaborations with all levels and all kinds of people. I have done the same as Ambassador to the United States, and I believe it has served our relationship well. I consider honesty as the foundation of any good and lasting relationship, and that frankness and reality-checks are prerequisites, and perhaps our only hope, in evaluating and effectively dealing with the problems and challenges confronting us.
And within this same spirit, allow me to say that the time is long overdue for Greece to introduce, without further delay, the necessary and deep structural reforms that will help it overcome its economic problems and make the system functional. When it comes to international relations and developments, at this particular point, Greece is in a rather compromising position, and I do not anticipate any change unless and until a strong government is in place.
And to continue with the same frankness, in regards to Cyprus, yes, we know that Turkey is at fault. However, it is also time that we reconsider our approach, that we exercise more pressure on the international community, and that we mobilize and energize our own people and our own resources towards a more charged-up campaign for a solution. 38 years of military occupation is totally unacceptable.
Here again, Greece will not be able to deliver essentially on this front, until a stable and strong government is in place, which will target the reversal of the negative image of Greece that has prevailed, the restoration of our credibility in order to regain our strong voice in the EU, NATO and the U.N.
At this point, I would like to express my admiration for the members of PSEKA for their commitment to the important cause of justice for Cyprus and its people. These well attended proceedings are testament to your dedication.
I also feel obliged to congratulate the Cypriot community for being actively engaged not only in trying to solve the Cyprus issue, but also other issues that concern Greece and Hellenism in general, and to say that the Cypriot is far more effectively organized than the Greek American community. I take this opportunity to publicly thank them for the support they have provided to my own mission here in the United States.
Last but not least, I congratulate my fellow honoree and counterpart in Athens, Ambassador Dan Smith, for ably representing his country, and wish him the best in his endeavors.