Greek Politicians and Greek Americans speak to “GreekNews” about the antiwar movement in Greece and “anti-americanism”
NEW YORK.- Apostolis Zoupaniotis
Deputy foreign minister Yiannis Mangriotis met last Saturday in Astoria with over a hundred Greek American leaders and exchanged views on the latest developments in Greece. At core of their discussion was the war in Iraq as many Greek Americans complaint of “anti-americanism” in Greece as seen in many reports in Greek television. Most recently, the Mayor of Chios was criticized by a Chios web newspaper Alithia (means “Truth”) for “participating at the Independence Parade in New York, where the “Americano-ellines” (irony for GreekAmericans) shouted in favor of the slaughtering of innocent people in Iraq”. Of course no such slogans were shouted. Instead the publisher have tried to create a political issue for the Mayor and some Chian Americans, using lies.
The issue of anti-americanism in Greece was discussed almost in all the meetings of the community prior the 25th of March and that put some pressure on politicians from Greece visiting the US as well as on distinguished leaders of our community to take a position on the matter.
Yiannis Mangriotis, the Deputy Greek Foreign Minister said that even in the United States one can find those who are in favor of the war and others who are against it. He reiterated that after September 11, Greece is on the side of New Yorkers and is firmly committed in the fight against terrorism. The demonstrations in Greece, he said, are not anti-american in essence but anti-war.
Grigoris Niotis, an mp from Pasok, Chairman of the Committee for Hellenes Abroad, clarified that pluralism as expressed in television should not be confused with the official state positions vis as vis the US. We remain friends and allies with the American government and the American people, he said.
Panayiotis Skandalakis an mp from the New Democracy party and Vice Chairman of the same committee and who has a Greek American relative fighting in Iraq, stressed that war is a bad thing but worse is terrorism and dictatorship. “I am with you”, he emphasized during a major event for the 25th of March held in Astoria. He stated to “GreekNews” that the press in Greece sometimes over exaggerates and maybe some war scenes shown extensively on television caused some negative for America climate in Greece. As a consequence, he added, that created bitterness among the Greek Americans.
Yiorgos Kalaitzis, an mp from New Domocracy party said to “GN” that many Greek Americans believe that there is a one sided view in Greece and this is not fair as Greece is a member of the European Union which is not involved in this war. But, he added, this is different from what the Greek people feel; who are bonded with the American people with long ties of friendship and who believe that since this war started it must finish for the sake of democracy in Iraq.
Maria Arseni, an mp from Pasok, said that the issue is not that simple. She said that the Greek Americans believe that the war fought in Iraq is for democary, for human rights, for peace in the region. They are skeptical about those people in Greece who are demonstrating outside the US embassy but at the same time they are quite satisfied with the government’s position, she said.
THE GREEK AMERICAN REACTION
Being a correspondent of a Greek Channel that broadcasts its programs in the United States, I have received quite few complaints about certain views expressed by various guests and even journalists.
Professor Pavlos Kapetanopoulos, a psychologist, told our paper that most Americans are against the war and the world community is against the war. “The British are against the war, and of course the Europeans, who know how horrible war is. They know that violence brings the violence. Small children know this.”, he said. Dr Kapetanopoulos stressed that no one feels any more secure because of the war going on in Iraq. In fact, he said, it may create for some the need to retaliate with terrorism. “So, it is not just the Greek people, it is the whole world that senses we are jeopardizing a possible World War 3. It is the American people themselves as well and it appears only a group of oil minded oligarchy has taking over and jeopardizing world security.” underlined the professor
AHEPA Supreme President, James Demetriou agreed with President Kostis Stefanopoulos in saying that Greece has met all its treaty obligations, never made a question about the use of air space and did not hold the United States out to extortion like Turkey did. Greece should be commended for meeting all of those obligations, Mr. Demetriou said.
Furthermore he said “As far as the expression of free speech, I believe the Greek protest, as well were the same as other European and American protests. Not aiming at the United States, but specifically at a war that they do not agree with. I hope that we will continue to be good friends as we always have. The Order of AHEPA always works for better relations between Greece and the U.S. in all areas.I believe now Greeks understand more our concerns. I don’t think we will agree 100% in all areas, but certainly there is more binding ness than ever.”
Dimitri Giannaros, Connecticut State Assemblyman stated to our paper that there are a lot of people in Connecticut who have significant doubts about the decision to go to war without the appropriate participation of the United Nations. “There are many people who are questioning as to whether we should have used diplomatic approach much more emphatically to achieve a solution to this problem.
At the same time, now that our troops are present in Iraq everyone supports the troops.” He added.