For Immediate Release: September 9, 2008
Contact: Nikolaos Taneris, New York, Tel. 1-917-699-9935
NEW YORK--The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) was described as one of
the major U.S.-based “pressure group” organizations, fighting for Cyprus and
other major human rights issues at the Athens “Zapeion” convention center for
the 86th world conference of the American Hellenic Progressive Association
The Research Institute for European & American Studies (RIEAS), presented at
“Zapeion” forum on select lobbying efforts in the U.S. diaspora. Several
Hellenic parliamentarians attended the panel from the three major political
parties—LAOS, PASOK and New Democracy.
CANA will make available the speeches from the world conference as soon as they
are modified and released. We provide two versions of the speech from Ioannis
Michaletos, who is an Associate Analyst in the International Security Research &
Intelligence Agency and a South Eastern European Editor in the World Security
The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) remains firm in its commitment to
work in coalition with diverse groups, to mobilize and inspire a new generation
to work to gain influence in political spheres, to build an assertive identity
that will challenge our opponents. Our joint actions with Serbian American
pressure groups are one such of example of our bold actions. Michaletos, in a
recent correspondence tells us that our actions “are becoming more widely known
day by day across the planet.” The speech below ends on the positive note “the
likeliness of the emergence of an orthodox axis in North America which has more
than 8 million Orthodox citizens, is a very important aspect of the whole
The speech is offered in Hellenic, courtesy of the Greek American News Agency,
followed by the English version, available also on Ioannis Michaletos’ blog on
(ÓåñâéêÝò ïìÜäåò ðßåóçò óôéò ÇÐÁ ÄïìÞ-ó÷Ýóåéò ìå ÅëëçíéêÝò ïìÜäåò êáé
åðéäéþîåéò, ôïõ ÉùÜííç Ìé÷áëÝôïõ
(The article below is reproduced for educational purposes)
Monday, Sept. 8, 2008 ANALYSIS
Serbian pressure groups on a global scale and their connections
By Ioannis Michaletos | Blog
September 8, 2008
Following text derives from a speech by Ioannis Michaletos being presented on
the 4th of July in the Athens “Zapeion” convention center for the 86th world
conference of the American Hellenic Progressive Association (AHEPA)
The Research Institute for European & American Studies (RIEAS) presented a
series of themes relating to the organization of the pressure groups in the
world and their interaction with the Greek one. It is interesting to note that
in the case of the Serbian one, there is intense dynamism, although that cannot
be seen at first glance and has to be researched through.
Serbian pressure groups have evolved dramatically over the previous decade due
to the events in Yugoslavia and the great upturns that this entailed.
The basic characteristics of the Serbian “Lobbies” are:
- Extensive use of electronic transmissions especially the internet for
dissemination of information
- Coalition with other ethnic lobbies (Greek, Russia, Jewish, increasingly
Armenian) and political ideologies (paleoconservative, conservative, centrists,
left wing and certain aristocratic figures of the Anglo-Saxon world)
- Use of individuals as communication hubs, a very flexible system
- Lack of centralized or commanding authority
- A very strong nexus between the American and the Canadian organizations
- Mostly grassroots organizations
- The Serbs use extensively social network websites such as the facebook and you
tube in well coordinated efforts
Strength & numbers
According to the official statistics there are approximately 5.5 million Serbs
outside Serbia, the largest Diaspora community being found in the USA (1.8
million), Canada (700.000), Germany (700,000), Australia (200,000), Austria
(200,000), and Switzerland (200,000). As it can be understood the majority lives
in the Western world thus they tend to function in parallel with the “Opponent”
pressure groups, i.e. the Albanian ones that share similar concentration of
In the United States the Serbian community contains one Governor (Illinois),
three Senators and two ex-Senators. The Serbian Caucus in the Congress has 31
members of which two are of Greek descent, Mr. Bilirakis and Mr. Space.
On 6 December 2001 the Federal Government adopted Decision on setting up the
Council of the Diaspora as a consultative body of the Federal Government for the
first time in the history of relations between the mother country and its
Diaspora. The Council is comprised of representatives of the Diaspora and of the
mother country on a basis of parity.
The Council of the Diaspora gathers and processes information from the Diaspora
and Serbia and formulates proposals for the Government of Serbia and for other
government bodies and institutions in the Republic of Serbia.
It is interesting to note that up to 2001, when the Serbian Diaspora Council was
formed in Belgrade, there was no authority that assisted or overviewed the
activities of the Serbs abroad. Nevertheless, due to the existence of political
brinkmanship and other domestic issues, the coordination from Belgrade can be
considered as a feeble one, a paradigm very close to the Greek one.
Greek-Serbian joint ventures
The connection between Greeks and Serbs in the States could be seen through a
recent letter by the ex-Senator Helen Delich to the Greek FM. It stated that
“During my time in Congress Greece never had a better friend than me… I drafted
many proposals concerning the Cyprus issue and supported Greece in the FYROM
name issue… The Serbs and Greeks in America have strong bonds dating back a long
The Greek-Serbian cooperation in North America and elsewhere heavily relies in
the actions of the local communities and Churches. According to information
relayed over the first three months of 2008, common festivities, as well as,
demonstrations against the Kosovo independence declaration were held in:
Washington, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, California and in Sydney –Australia.
Moreover there are at least four organizations with Byzantine acronyms operating
in USA that are being composed by Greeks, Serbians and other Orthodox descent
citizens that aim towards the creation of common fronts in a variety of issues.
They rely on the internet for the exchange of information and they have been
able to attract a few thousand members and conduct dynamic activism.
For instance the "Serbian Day in Washington" was vividly presented by the
Serb-Hellenic Forum; from we were also informed that “It's not uncommon for
Serbs to attend Hellenic Orthodox churches, especially if they happen to be
located in an area where there isn’t Serbian Orthodox churches”
According to Adamantions Koukouves, a Hellene living in the States and a member
of joint forums “The thing about Greek-Serb cooperation is that it is not
centralized. There is no major Greek-Serb organization (at least yet). It is
mostly: Greek-Serb festivals, local Greek-Serb (and, in one case, also Russian)
organizations, Greek-Serb nightclubs (with special "Greek-Serb nights"), and
joint demonstrations/protests. These things tend to occur in places where there
is a high concentration of both Greeks and Serbs. Aside from the "Serbian Day
in Washington" event, I personally participated in a Serbian protest outside of
the Croatian embassy on 5 August 2007 regarding the Croatian invasion of Krajina
as well as the Serbian Genocide committed by Croatians”
A small sample of joint Orthodox organizations in the States.
"Orthodox Front”, "The Byzantine Edge", “Hellenic Front”, Serbian-Hellenic
Forum” , Serbia-Hellas”, "Serbian-Hellenic Brotherhood", "Hellenic-Serbian
Alliance: International Lobby For Serbs and Hellenes" and many other.
Another feature of the Greek-Serbian connection is being currently envisaged by
the Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA), based in New York. In a recent
commemoration in the City of the Jasenovac genocidal concentration camp, CANA
participated, along with the leading members of the Serbian community, Mayor
Bloomberg and most of the Jewish leaders of the Five Boroughs.
In Florida, CANA along with Armenian and Serbian organizations has enacted a
campaign against a particular Congressman that is characterized by pro-Turkish
and pro-Albanian stance. The campaign has grown to a considerable strength and
CANA’s PR man in the region is of Serbian descent.
According to CANA’s past press statements, “The Cyprus Action Network of America
(CANA) accompanied by political organizers from Washington DC, along with
hundreds of activists, many from Florida and many traveling from several states
away, joined together to rally against Genocide denier and Cyprus invasion
denier Congressman Robert Wexler (D-19), and to stand in support of democratic
primary candidate Dr. Benjamin Graber, and thereby stand in support of human
rights, justice and democracy on Saturday, January 12, 2008 in Boca Rotan,
Moreover, “The rally, organized by the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF), and
co-hosted by the Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA), along with the
Armenian National Committee of South Florida the Armenian Student Association
(ASA), was a huge success!
CANA consultant John Bosnitch, commented on Wexler “he is in the pocket of the
big money Turkish lobby denying the illegal occupation of Cyprus…Wexler’s denial
of the past Genocide of Armenians is strike one, Wexler’s support of the present
Genocide of Greeks in Cyprus is strike two, Wexler’s support of the future
Genocide of Kosovo Serbs is strike three…lets be Americans about this.. Mister
Wexler, three strikes you’re out”.
Another example of the Greek-Serbian common stance on wider issues is the
inclusion of James Jatras in the American Council of Kosovo and in parallel in
the Greek American Political Action Committee that is going to play an important
role in the upcoming forthcoming Presidential elections.
Large Serbian Diaspora organizations
The American Council for Kosovo is an organization primarily concerned with the
Kosovo issue and important personalities from the Serbian, Jewish, Greek and
Anglo-Saxon communities are represented. The Council has an internet based radio
program and has initiated foreign trips to countries such as Russia, Israel,
Canada, and Australia in order to inform officials of those countries around the
Kosovo problem and the cultural genocide conducted by the Albanians.
It hasn’t visited Athens yet, due to indifference by the respective Greek
authorities, although that is something that could be changed anytime soon due
to the changing nature of Greek domestic political balances for a variety of
reasons beyond the scope of the present speech.
The Advisory Board of American Council for Kosovo has made numerous appearances
in major USA think tanks, Israeli policy forums and Serbian newspapers. It
Doug Bandow is a Washington-based political writer and policy analyst. He served
as a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan
Ambassador James Bissett
Ambassador Bissett spent 37 years as a Canadian Public Servant in the Department
of Citizenship and Immigration and Foreign Affairs.
Andrew G. Bostom
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown
University Medical School
Thomas Gambill is a former Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
(OSCE) security official and was based in Kosovo for five years. He has made
several important appearances and comments based on his important experience in
Julia Gorin is among the most recognized names in politically conservative
stand-up comedy. She has been profiled in the book South Park Conservatives and
her jokes will be featured in the forthcoming Complete Idiot's Guide to Jokes.
She also is one of the most influential thinkers on contemporary Balkan
Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, is a writer and researcher with a
large number of publications and appearances in issues concerning security and
Sir Alfred Sherman+ In Memoriam, with Gratitude
Sir Alfred Sherman was a national security advisor for former British Prime
Minister Margaret and one of the prime strategic thinkers of the United Kingdom
The Rev. Canon Keith Roderick, D.D.
An Episcopal priest, Father Keith Roderick was a Cold War human rights activist
on behalf of Soviet citizens facing religious persecution under Communist
William J. Murray
William J. Murray is the chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition in
The Serbian Unity Congress is another organization that was established in 1990,
and already has 11 offices in USA and 10 other in the rest of the world. Its
main function is to inform the public on Serbian themes and to mobilize Diaspora
Serbs on issues of great concern. It mainly operates using the English language
in order to have a greater appeal in the 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants and
to be able to penetrate its view on a greater media audience.
It provides 24/7 information flow on Serbian issues and has a special high
quality information gateway regarding the exposure of cultural treasures of
Serbia in a way they address the American mind.
Offices in the States are in:
Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San
Francisco, Milwaukee, Houston, Miami
And abroad in:
MexicoCity, Toronto, Vancuver, Calgary, Belgrade, Vienna, Lausanne, London,
Australia, South Africa.
An informal, but well organized Serbian lobby in Israel has been active from the
very beginning of the breakup of Yugoslavia. It includes a number of media
personalities, in concert with the Association of Immigrants from Yugoslavia and
the Serbian Embassy in Israel.
It has attained a great role in presenting the Serbian view on the events that
took place in ex-Yugoslavia and assisted in shaping a positive image of Serbia
to the Israelis.
Ms. Mel Polishook-Bloch and Ms. Erela Golan, members of Knesset, as Chairperson
and member of Serbian Friendship Group in the Knesset, visited Serbia from
September 5th to 8th 2005 according to the invitation of the Serbian-Israeli
friendship group in the People's Assembly of Serbia.
Serbian-Israeli Friendship Group is the first such group established in the
Serbian Parliament, initiated by the Committee of Foreign Affairs and its
Chairperson, Ms. Gordana ?omi?.
The Serbian pressure groups successes
Obama is the friendliest to the Serbs due to efforts by the lobby, and was
approached by the Serbian Diaspora in a relatively early stage of his election
campaign, when Clinton’s campaign seemed as the favorite one.
Excellent relations with Israel and the right wing American Jewish lobby,
without at the same time loosing connections with the Arab world, is another
accomplishment of the Serbian groups.
Moreover a great number of Balkan scandals and atrocities were made known to the
wider public, by an extent through the assistance of the Serbian groups across
the world and especially via the internet.
The Serbs were pretty apt and successful into forming very good relations with
certain wings and clubs of the British Conservative party, the American
Republican Party and veteran associations in the States and Canada
The most important fact is that despite the hurdles of the '90's they have
managed to form a lobby which is now beginning to become influential, I would
say that it will become amongst the 10 most influential in the next 5-10 years
if it continues with that pace.
Lastly the likeliness of the emergence of an orthodox axis in North America
which has more than 8 million Orthodox citizens, is a very important aspect of
the whole discussion.
Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA)
2578 Broadway #132
New York, NY 10025
New York: Tel. 917-699-9935
The Cyprus Action Network of America (CANA) is a grass-roots, not-for-profit
movement created to support genuine self-determination and human rights for the
people of Cyprus.
You may post any CANA article, press release or action alert on the internet as
long as you credit CANA and the author(s).