April 23, 2024
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NJ Secretary of State Tahesha Way Leads First In-Person NJ Eastern Mediterranean Forum

(Courtesy of New Jersey Hellenic Heritage Commission) 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. The gathering united diplomats, government officials and business leaders who share connections between the Hellenic Republic of Greece, the Republic of Cyprus, and Israel with 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, New Jersey, was attended by Minister of Interior H.E. Nicos Nouris 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 at the panel discussion on regional developments between the three nations and their relationships with New Jersey included consul general of Greece, Konstantinos Konstantinou; consul general of Cyprus, Michalis Firillas; and deputy consul general of Israel, Israel Nitzan.

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 that 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, 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 as 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 Greece Consul General Konstantinos Konstantinou. “Our partnership is based in our shared value—adherence with international law, love for freedom and democracy and a need for stability—and can be further enhanced. New Jersey, with its extroverted approach and its dynamic Hellenic community, is a true friend of Greece and I am looking toward 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 Cyprus Consul General Michalis Firillas. “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 Israel Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan. “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.”

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