American Hellenic Institute

AHI Calendar

 

2017bookcover

Facebook Image
Greek American Membership Organizations Endorse the 2006 Policy Statement: The U.S. Should Establish a “Special Relationship” with Greece
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
April 11, 2006—No. 25 (202) 785-8430

Greek American Membership Organizations Endorse the 2006 Policy Statement: The U.S. Should Establish a “Special Relationship” with Greece

WASHINGTON, DC—American Hellenic Institute President Gene Rossides announced today that the major Greek American membership organizations endorse the 2006 policy statement: The U.S. Should Establish a “Special Relationship” with Greece. Prepared by the American Hellenic Institute, it is part of the 2006 Greek American Policy Statements. The major membership organizations 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, the PanCretan Association of America, and the American Hellenic Institute. The endorsed statement 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.

We have stated for decades that Greece is the strategic, political and economic key for the U.S. in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and a proven and reliable ally. 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. We call for a “special relationship” between the U.S. and Greece for the mutual benefit of both countries.

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.”

On March 20, 2005, President Bush met with Prime Minister Konstantine Karamanlis at the White House. The following are their welcoming remarks from the Oval Office:

President Bush: “Thank you all for coming. It's my pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister back. It's good to see you, sir.

America and Greece have got a strategic partnership. That's important. It's important for our respective peoples, and it's important we work together to spread freedom and peace.

I want to welcome you here. Last time you were here, we were talking about the Olympics. I told the Prime Minister I was confident that the government would make sure the Olympics were secure. I was so confident I sent my family. And not only did you keep your word, my parents and my—some of my relatives had a fabulous time in a spectacular country.

I look forward to visiting with you on a variety of subjects—the freedom agenda, freedom in the greater Middle East, the Balkans. I look forward to talking to you about how best we can work together to continue to spread liberty. So I'm proud you're here, and welcome to the United States.”

Prime Minister Karamanlis: “Well, it's my second visit with President Bush within almost a year. And I'm happy to say that this reflects the excellent bilateral relations we have, and, of course, our determination to further our partnership to promote the areas of mutual interest, the common goals we have. And I think that it's going to be the outcome of this meeting, as well, to keep working closely in matters which are very important to both of us in both countries.”

On March 23, 2006, Secretary Rice met with Dora Bakoyannis, the newly appointed Foreign Minister of Greece, and reiterated her views on the strategic partnership between the U.S. and Greece. Their press conference remarks after their meeting are as follows:

Secretary Rice: “Good afternoon. I would like to welcome Greek Foreign Minister Bakoyannis—Dora—to the State Department and here to Washington, D.C. This is her first trip to Washington, D.C. as Foreign Minister. I have to say that I'm a great admirer of the work that she did as the Mayor of Athens, a city that is near and dear to the hearts of most people around the world, and she has been Foreign Minister now for a little over a month and it's delightful to have her here in Washington.

We've had a great opportunity to discuss our strategic partnership with Greece. This is a relationship that is first and foremost, of course, based on values. It is a relationship that recognizes the seminal role of Greece as a cradle of those values and recognizes that in the modern era in which we find ourselves now with so many challenges that Greece is a stalwart partner in the spread of democratic values, whether it be in Greece's work in the Broader Middle East Initiative, in which we've all been involved, promoting stability and prosperity in the Balkans, fighting terrorism and, of course, seeking the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of democratic values.

We have had a very useful discussion of these issues, as well as the concerns of NATO in Afghanistan, in the training mission in Iraq, in Sudan. In other words, it's been a very broad and good discussion and I look forward to many, many more with Dora over the years.

So welcome and the floor is yours.” 
Foreign Minister Bakoyannis: “Thank you, Condi, and thank you for the nice words about Athens. We had a very fruitful and constructive meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and I thank her for this invitation. The U.S. and Greece enjoy an historic relationship. It is the relationship between the world's most powerful democracy and the world's oldest democracy, the birth place of our shared values and ideals.

In our talks we sought effective ways of enhancing this relationship. We discussed developments in the western Balkans, a region of strategic importance for Greece, where we have a strong political and economic presence. We agreed that the future of the western Balkans lies in Europe, that any solution to the problem of Kosovo may take into account all parts concerned and the stability of the region.

We believe in a united bicommunal Cyprus. As I had the opportunity to stress to my colleague a solution to the Cyprus problem will only be viable if it is based on relevant Security Council resolutions, the UN Secretary General's sets of proposals and the norms of the EU to which Cyprus belongs.

We both support Turkey's European aspirations, but I must say that Turkish European future lies in its own hands on the application of the European norms and practices, both inside Turkey and in their relationships with the neighbors, particularly Greece and Cyprus.

We discussed all major international issues, especially the Middle East, Iran and, naturally, Iraq. Greece enjoying a 14 centuries-long relationship with the Islamic world is well suited to play a role in the better understanding between the West and Islam.”

* * * *

Q.: “Madam Secretary, could you please give me the substance of this strategic partnership? Thank you.” 
Secretary Rice: “Thank you. What does it mean to be a strategic partner? It means first and foremost that you share the desire to solve problems in the international system and to come up with solutions and to execute those solutions together on the basis of shared values, on the basis of common concerns.

It doesn't mean that we always agree on every element concerning a particular problem. But it does mean that Greece and the United States, from the strongest possible basis of shared values, from our alliance in NATO, from the work that we are doing together in the Balkans, that we are now reaching past that to the broader Middle East where, as Dora said, Greece has a long history of relations with the Muslim world and is therefore an anchor for any outreach to the Muslim world and the efforts to help to support those who want a democratic future.

It means that we work together on the NATO efforts in Afghanistan. It means that we work together on the NATO efforts for training in Iraq. So I see it as a declaration of, first and foremost, our shared values but also our desire to use that very strong basis to solve common problems together. Even if from time to time we may not agree about everything, this is an excellent relationship and the United States is delighted to have such a good friend and partner in Greece.”

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 the 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. In 1998 the American Hellenic Institute Foundation published The Truman Doctrine—A Fifty-Year Retrospective with the distinguished Academy of Political Science. In that volume General Goodpaster 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. In 2005, there were approximately 11,000 visits by U.S. military ships and planes to Souda Bay and its adjacent air base.

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.

###

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