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Professor Andre Gerolymatos Discusses Stability In The Balkans And The Role Of Greece At AHI Noon Forum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
April 15, 2002 No. 17/02 (202) 785-8430

Professor Andre Gerolymatos Discusses Stability In The Balkans And The Role Of Greece At AHI Noon Forum

WASHINGTON, DC -- On April 10, 2002, the AHI hosted Professor Andre Gerolymatos at a Hellenic House noon forum during which he provided a historic and current overview of Balkan stability and Greece's pivotal role in the region. Professor Gerolymatos is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, B.C. and Chairman of Hellenic Studies at the Hellenic Canadian Congress of B.C.

Professor Gerolymatos highlighted the key strategic value of the Balkans and of Greece from antiquity to the present. The Balkans are "a land bridge, going east and west and north and south. That means that the area is strategically located." Geographically, Greece has been more insulated than the remainder of the Balkan region. Because of its many ports and islands facing eastward, Greece "can be a stepping stone to the east or a natural defense line from armies from the east. This has given Greek culture an ability to adapt and accept new ideas, as well as influence other cultures."

As a result of its strategic location and its adaptability, "Greece has always been in a sense a jewel in the crown of every empire that has come and gone from the region and because it has directly or indirectly dominated the other Balkan states." Furthermore, Greece plays a crucial role in maintaining stability in the region.

For example, the Greek state is key in maintaining stability in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). While a number of peacekeeping methods have been employed to quell the dispute between the Albanian minority and FYROM, Professor Gerolymatos cites Greece's "economic peacekeeping" efforts as a significant contribution to preventing further violence:

"What has stabilized the FYROM has been Greek businessmen essentially. There are thousands of business enterprises in the Republic in addition to schools being built where people are employed usefully. By large infusions of cash from Greece, there has been no war in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It demonstrates that if people have something to lose, they are less likely to go to war."

Regarding the U.S.'s perception of Greece's role in the Balkans, Professor Gerolymatos believes that the U.S. recognizes Greece's importance to the region and to U.S. interests there. To date, the Greek government has maintained a very pro-American policy.

However the trouble arises with the U.S. because, "Americans are often sidetracked by what they perceive to be sentiments of anti-Americanism in Greece not by the Greek state, not by the Greek government, but by certain people -- most notably the Greek Communist Party" and other left-wing elements, said Gerolymatos. "These groups are in reality a small minority."

Due to Greece's stability and cultural, economic, and political proximity with other Balkan counties, it will continue to play a key role in security and stability in the region. Professor Gerolymatos points out that "the Greeks have been living near these places for thousands of years. They understand the societies, the neighbors, they know how to do business, and most importantly they know how not to become the dominant economic power."

C-SPAN 2 will broadcast the AHI noon forum featuring Professor Andre Gerolymatos on its "History on Book TV" program on Saturday, May 11 at 11:00 p.m. and again on Sunday, May 12 at 8:00 p.m. Please seehttp://www.booktv.org/history/index.asp?segID=2422&schedID=126 for details.

For additional information, including digital photos of the noon forum, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information on AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.