TRENTON, NJ, – New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way presided over the first ever in-person gathering between the New Jersey-Israel Commission and the New Jersey Hellenic Heritage Commission which united diplomats, government officials, and business leaders who share connections between the Hellenic Republic of Greece, the Republic of Cyprus, and the State of Israel with the State of New Jersey. Both commissions, which are under the New Jersey Department of State, are tasked with engagement, programs and economic opportunities with Israel and the Hellenic community, respectively.
The event, held in Hawthorne, was attended by H.E. Nicos Nouris, Minister of Interior of the Republic of Cyprus alongside Niovi Parisinou, Deputy Spokesperson of the Government of Cyprus who joined the program during an official visit to the United States. The event was held in partnership with the Consulates General of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel as an opportunity to showcase the unity and relationships between New Jersey and the Eastern Mediterranean region which has especially strong ties with the Garden State. Speakers included Consul General of Greece, Konstantinos Konstantinou; Consul General of Cyprus, Michalis Firillas; and Deputy Consul General of Israel, Israel Nitzan during a panel discussion on regional developments between the three nations and their relationships with New Jersey.
Both the New Jersey-Israel Commission and the New Jersey Hellenic Heritage Commission reflect the state’s commitment to enhancing ties with these critical regions which are sources of significant investment, trade, academic partnerships, and cultural relations with New Jersey.
During the program, which also included remarks from Zenon Christodoulou, Chair of the New Jersey Hellenic Heritage Commission and Andrew H Gross, Executive Director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, the themes of building stronger bridges domestically and internationally, meeting global challenges, and enhancing community partnerships were strongly emphasized as well as encouraging bilateral trade, investment and tourism.
New Jersey’s strategic position as a global exporter containing the largest port on the East Coast of the United States, daily direct flights to Athens and Tel Aviv, and thriving communities with deep roots in the Eastern Mediterranean region made this event especially relevant. Both commissions will continue their cooperation and joint events to deepen these important relations.
“New Jersey stands a strong friend and partner to Greece, Cyprus and Israel and appreciates the essential roles they play as key allies to the United States and important economic partners to our state,” said New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “As our world faces so much uncertainty, I am extremely proud to have hosted this diverse gathering which sends a message loud and clear that our communities will come together, support one another, and build opportunities for our great state.”
“This extremely productive forum sets the framework for a frank dialogue in the context of a localized version of the extremely successful 3+1 format,” said Consul General Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consulate General of Greece in New York. “Our partnership is based in our shared values - adherence with international law, love for freedom and democracy and a need for stability - and can be further enhanced. New Jersey, with its extrovert approach and its dynamic Hellenic community is a true friend of Greece and I am looking towards strengthening our already excellent cooperation.
“This was a wonderful initiative and I want to compliment the organizers. The strong ties that developed over the past decade in the Eastern Mediterranean between Cyprus, Israel and Greece, have had a significant positive impact on the stability in the region, but also opened many options for investment, joint projects and growth,” said Consul General Michalis Firillas, Consul General of Cyprus in New York. “The United States is a strategic partner in this cooperation, and we hope that with events like the one organized by New Jersey, we could involve more directly the Hellenic and Jewish communities in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
“The connection between Israel and New Jersey is historic and strong. We thank the State of New Jersey and New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way for organizing this event to highlight our shared values, and foster collaboration in innovation, technology, science, academia and culture,” said Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan, Consulate General of Israel in New York. “We look forward to further connecting as a 3+1 with the addition of the Jewish and Hellenic communities, and strengthening the special bond that brings our peoples and states together.”
Pictured L to R: Zenon Christodoulou, Chair of the New Jersey-Hellenic Heritage Commission; Israel Nitzan, Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York; Michalis Firillas, Consul General of Cyprus in New York; Konstantinos Konstantinou, Consul General of Greece in New York; Niovi Parisinou, Deputy Spokesperson of the Government of Cyprus; H.E. Nicos Nouris, Interior Minister of Cyprus; New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way; Elias Mattar, Member, New Jersey-Israel Commission; Andrew Gross, Executive Director, New Jersey-Israel Commission
About the New Jersey Hellenic Heritage Commission
The Commission is authorized to study, recognize and share information on Hellenic heritage, culture and history as it relates to Americans of Hellenic ancestry and their contributions to the State of New Jersey. The Commission coordinates an annual Hellenic Heritage Month celebration in March and provides expertise to the Department of Education for the development of content and curriculum guides for the study of Hellenic culture within the State’s Core Curriculum Content Standards in Social Studies. The Commission is also authorized to assist the New Jersey Tourism Policy Council in promoting cultural exchanges and to assist the Office of International Trade in promoting economic development between the citizens of the State of New Jersey and the nations of Greece and Cyprus.
About the New Jersey-Israel Commission
The New Jersey-Israel Commission was established in 1989 to implement the goals of the New Jersey-Israel Sister State Agreement and is under the administration of New Jersey Department of State. The Commission promotes the development of trade, culture and educational exchanges; encourages the development of capital investment and joint business ventures; and fosters a spirit of cooperation between the citizens of the State of Israel and the State of New Jersey.