Hellenic Electronic Center

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Letter to VISA 12/07/08

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Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)

A Non-Profit Organization Registered in the US

with 37,000 Hellenes as members and 36 Hellenic

associations in the US and abroad

December 7, 2008

Mr. William M. Sheeny

With this letter we intend to convey our profound regret that VISA U.S.A inc. has chosen to blatantly become politicized by affiliating itself with a fringe organization calling itself the "United Macedonian Diaspora" and which has proceeded to use the VISA credit card in order to promote the expansionist cause of the government in Skopje which is officially referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union. We officially inform you that the Sun of Vergina is protected as a Hellenic symbol by the World intellectual Property Organization. Therefore, the images displayed on the VISA credit card are blatantly illegal and bound to trigger ramifications of a legal nature if such displays are not halted. The following comes from Article 6ter of the Paris Convention:


"Pursuant to Article 6ter, Members of either or both the Paris Union and the WTO shall refuse or invalidate the registration, and prohibit by appropriate measures the use, without authorization by the competent authorities, either as trademarks or as elements of trademarks, of armorial bearings, flags, and other State emblems of these Members, official signs and hallmarks indicating control and warranty adopted by them, and any imitation from a heraldic point of view."

In addition, the display of the Sun of Vergina would contrast the established foreign policy position of the United States which supported Greek historical rights and claims to this ancient Macedonian symbol when it supported a 1995 agreement signed by Greece and Skopje which required the latter governmentto remove the symbol from its flag. We believe that VISA U.S.A inc. has been poorly advised by any and all parties that played a role in involving it in blatant acts of hostility against a historic American ally such as Greece, and by inevitably offending and incurring the outrage of millions of Greek American customers, as well as customers who use VISA in Greece.

We believe VISA U.S.A. inc. should be warned about the company it keeps. The government of which the so called "United Macedonian Diaspora" represents has an established record of triggering outrage and offense over the misuse of symbols. Last spring, the government of Skopje proceeded to display its disdain for good taste by using the Nazi swastika, a symbol associated with unspeakable human suffering during the Second World War for self serving propaganda purposes. Such incidents should reinforce why it is of extreme poor judgement for VISA U.S.A. inc. to ally itself with political groups representing agendas that are outside the mainstream.



Theodore G. Karakostas This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Member of HEC Executive Council


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