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Greek American Organizations’ Policy Statement Calls on the U.S. to Establish a "Special Relationship" with Greece
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: C. Franciscos Economides
May 10, 2005—No.40 (202) 785-8430

Greek American Organizations’ Policy Statement Calls on the U.S. to Establish a "Special Relationship" with Greece

WASHINGTON, DC—American Hellenic Institute president Gene Rossides announced today that the major Greek American membership organizations endorsed the policy statement "The U.S. Should Establish a ‘Special Relationship’ with Greece" prepared by the American Hellenic Institute. These are: the Order of AHEPA, the Hellenic American National Council, the Cyprus Federation of America, the Panepirotic Federation of America, the Pan-Macedonian Association of America and the American Hellenic Institute. The endorsed statement, which is part of the 2005 Greek American Policy Statements, follows:

The U.S. Should Establish a "Special Relationship" with Greece

The U.S. has important and vital interests in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. These include the significant energy, commercial and communications resources that transit the region. The U.S. should look to Greece as an immensely valuable link in the region. The U.S. should do more to capitalize on Greece’s location and close cultural, political, and economic ties to the Mediterranean countries, Western Europe, Southeastern Europe, and the Middle East in advancing U.S. interests.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Greece’s Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis in Washington, DC on March 24, 2005 for a working visit. Secretary Rice stated the following to the media:

"We had an opportunity to review the excellent state of relations between Greece and the United States, the outstanding bilateral relationship that we have, and also our joint desire and commitment for the spread of democracy and freedom throughout the world.

Greece has been a strong supporter of the work that we are doing in the broader Middle East, in Afghanistan, in supporting the people of Iraq as they are concerned and looking forward to a better future based on the elections that they've had.

We also had a very good opportunity to talk about the Balkans, a place in which we believe great progress has been made. But, of course, there are many challenges yet to meet. And we have no better friend in meeting these and other challenges than our friends in Greece."

Minister Molyviatis said:

"Indeed, we had an excellent opportunity to review our excellent state of bilateral relations and also to express and reaffirm our determination to further promote that relationship into strategic cooperation on several fields.

We, of course, discussed the Balkans and the Mediterranean. And we greeted with satisfaction this mobility toward the spread of democracy and freedom in many parts of the world….

Also we discussed, of course, Cyprus and we considered ways in which we can promote our common objective, which is the reunification of the island through negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan.

And, frankly, I could say that we have both agreed to further strengthen our cooperation in all fields."

Secretary Rice responded to a question about "working together on strategic areas. Could you be more specific where Greece and the United States could work together?"

"Of course. First of all, we did talk about our joint responsibilities as members of NATO and the responsibilities that we hold in trying to promote stable and progressive developments in the Balkans. That is a place where we have had very, very good cooperation, and where it's extremely important that that process move forward.

We have some reports that will be coming forward, for instance, on Kosovo. We believe that this is an area that is ripe for cooperation between Greece and the United States as well as the other members of NATO.

I can remember quite well, for instance, at our recent NATO ministerial, that we talked about the need for there to be constant dialogue and discussion as we move forward through the spring on the situation in Kosovo.

We also talked about the Mediterranean, where we share interests and where there are now very active movements toward democracy and perhaps we could find a strategic common purpose there.

The foreign minister also talked about what Greece might be able to do as we continue to try to stabilize Afghanistan, and as we try to provide for the Iraqi people support for their newly elected transitional government.

So this is wide ranging.

We did not have a chance to talk today, although we have talked, of course, in the past, about the Middle East and the Israeli- Palestinian issue, where Greece has an important role with us to play in helping the Palestinian people to develop institutions that can be the institutions on which a state can be built.

So we have a broad strategic course ahead of us.

And the good news is that since Greece and the United States are good friends, since we're both democracies, since we work together in a number of institutions, well, we look forward to using all of those opportunities to promote this agenda, which is focused very much on the spread of freedom and democracy, and I might say, also, greater prosperity to the people of the world."

We have stated for decades that Greece is the strategic and political key for the U.S. in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and a proven and reliable ally. In 2001 the American Hellenic Institute Foundation published Greece’s Pivotal Role in World War II and its Importance to the U.S. Today with an introduction by General Andrew J. Goodpaster, USA (Ret.), the former Supreme Commander of NATO.

In World War I, Greece sided with the allies and played an important role in the Balkans, while Turkey fought against the U.S. as an ally of Germany. Greece’s actions also prevented Turkish troops from reaching the Western Front and saved many American and allied lives.

In World War II, with Europe under the heel of Nazi Germany and with Britain fighting the Axis powers alone, Greece’s courageous reply on October 28, 1940 of OXI (No!) to Mussolini’s surrender ultimatum echoed throughout the world and give support to Britain and the forces of freedom.

The defeat of Mussolini’s army by Greek forces, actually pushing them back into Albania, gave the first taste of victory to the allies against fascism. Greece’s success against Mussolini forced Hitler to change his plans and divert valuable troops, arms and equipment to invade Greece. Hitler’s invasion of Greece delayed his invasion of the Soviet Union by several weeks, from April to June 1941. That delay has been credited by military experts and historians as one of the main factors that prevented Hitler’s defeat of the Soviet Union.

Karl E. Meyer, in a New York Times editorial footnote, stated that Hitler believed that several weeks it took Germany to subdue Greece was responsible for his losing the war against the Soviet Union. (April 16, 1994, A20, col.1)

General Andrew J. Goodpaster, former Supreme Commander of NATO, has characterized Greece’s actions in World War II as a turning point in the war.

But the glory of Greece’s actions in World War II did not end there. During the harsh Nazi occupation, Greek resistance activities forced the Germans to retain a large number of troops in Greece, which otherwise would have been deployed to Eastern Front and in North Africa, and could have tipped the balance in both of those campaigns. Six hundred thousand Greeks, 9 percent of their population, died from fighting and Nazi Germany’s starvation policy.

In contrast with Greece, Turkey failed to honor its treaty with Britain and France to enter the war, remained neutral and profited from both sides. In fact, Turkey supplied Hitler with chromium, a vital resource to Nazi Germany’s armaments industry and war effort. Albert Speer, Hitler’s armaments chief, wrote in November 1943 that the loss of chromium supplies from Turkey would end the war in about 10 months. See F. Weber, The Evasive Neutral 44 (1979) and A. Speer, Inside the Third Reich 316-17, 405, 550 n. 10, (1970).

While the rest of Europe was rebuilding following World War II, Greece was involved in a civil war from 1946 to 1949 against communist forces supported by Stalin and Tito and supplied by them from the Skopje area of Yugoslavia. Greece’s defeat of the communists, with the Greek blood and American military aid provided under the Truman Doctrine (but without American combat troops), was an historic turning point in the post-World War II Cold War period.

Stopping the communist takeover of Greece, including Crete with its Souda Bay naval base, prevented Stalin’s domination of the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean and the strategic encirclement by the Soviet Union of the Middle East oil resources including the Persian Gulf area. General Goodpaster has called the Truman Doctrine and Greece’s role a turning point in world history.

Secretary Rice’s comments give hope that finally the U.S. recognizes the full value of Greece to the U.S. for their mutual benefit. Words are important, but need to be followed by action. Secretary Rice can give meaning to her words by positive action on the key issues: Cyprus, the Aegean, FYROM, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Halki Patriarchal School of Theology and Albania.

Greece is a vigorous and stable democracy with a rapidly modernizing economy that serves as a stimulus for regional growth. It is also the only Balkan country that can boast membership in the EU and its European Monetary Union (EMU) as well as NATO. In combination, these factors make Greece a regional force for political stability and democracy-building and a sensible partner for U.S. strategic interests, economic cooperation and investment. Greece hosted an exceptional 2004 Olympic Games, which enhanced Greece’s visibility worldwide.

The 1999 Kosovo crisis confirmed Greece’s leadership role in the Balkans and its utility as the U.S.’s pivotal partner in the wider region. Greece coordinates the administration of EU aid to the Balkans and is itself a source of developmental capital, private investment, and know-how in the newly emerging Balkan economies.

The 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War confirmed that the Souda Bay, Crete naval base and airbases in Greece are the most important Eastern Mediterranean bases for the projection of U.S. power. There is clearly nothing remotely comparable in Turkey.

The U.S. should establish a "special relationship" with Greece by broadening and deepening its relationship through a coordinated program in the strategic, political, military, commercial and cultural fields. Establishing such a relationship with Greece will allow the U.S. to capitalize on Greece’s unique assets, thereby increasing the prospects for achieving the U.S.’s long-term goals of political stability, economic progress and democracy in Southeastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.