With the participation of ten Northern Epirotic Organizations across the US, the North Epirotic Federation of America (NEFA) was formally formed on October 12th at the “Verdi” restaurant in Whitestone, USA.
Members of the Organizing Committee focused on the need for the Northern Epirots -the indigenous Ethnic Greek Minority residing in Albania- to set up their own secondary body and to have a more autonomous structure and direction in the organized Diaspora of America, given their already strong presence in the public affairs. As stated in the announcement, the Federation will have the task of strengthening the relations between its members and is expected to address an open invitation to the Northern Epirot Associations in Greece.
“It is very important for us to establish a federation. Ultimately, the Northern Epirots must take their destiny into their own hands. This is not to say that they will be cut off from the other Associations. We will continue our relationship with Panepirotic and the other Associations as they are. Our main goal was to unite the Northern Epirots, said Pyrros Club President Constantine Tsiouris.
For her part, the president of the Himariots, Anna Notis, expressed confidence that the new venture would also be supported by the young Northern Epirots, while also stressing the goal of working with the Panepirotic Association.
“We Northern Epirots have never had our own Federation and now we have it. It will be our voice because no one else knows our problems as good as we know them. And of course we will work with the Panepirotic Association as long as they support us and we will fight together”, said Anna Notis, while Angelos Bolanos, who represented the Northern Epirots of Florida, stressed that “this is the first time in history that the North Epirots will have their own body of representatives”.
“The purpose of the Federation is to claim the rights of the Northern Epirots and to preserve the culture of Northern Epirus. Along the way, we want the Associations from Greece to join in. For us, now is the most important time to unite and everything that we will claim to claim it together”.
In his speech, Professor Nikos Ligeros welcomed the founding of the Northern Epirus Federation, stressing that the issue should be dealt with with the necessary caution in all its extensions, both by the Greek government and by Hellenism as a whole.
“The fact that the Northern Epirots will have a federation specifically dealing with their issues is very good and I also consider it to be a ‘sacred’ alliance with other Federations, such as the Panepirotic and Panmacedonian Associations and they can work together as a synergy to achieve objectives that would be unthinkable if we didn’t have this synergy.
Unfortunately, so far the Greek governments have not done enough work. They have not brought up the issue of the Ethnic Minority in Northern Epirus, as this is an important part of the nation”, said Mr. Ligeros.
The President of the Federation of Greek Associations of Greater New York, Kleanthis Meimaroglou, the President of the Panmacedonian Union of America, Dimitris Filippidis and the President of the Federation of United Lakonian Organizations, as well as the representatives of other Union of Northern Epirot Organizations of the United States, also gave their greetings.
Everybody praised the particular importance of Northern Epirus as well as the Northern Epirots’ contribution to national issues, with Mr. Filippidis making a separate reference to the activation of the Northern Epirus Organizations in the recent rallies and the general mobilization for the Macedonian issue.
The Consul General of Greece in New York, Konstantinos Koutras, did not attend but he sent his greeting, wishing the NEFA every success.