Washington, D.C. By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
When I was in Chicago for the presidential election night, with the joyous Greek American supporters of President Barack Obama, I couldnʼt imagine that in only two months since the new president took office, Greece and Cyprus would have face more problems than if Bush were the President. Contrary to the Clinton White House days, today Greek American Community doesnʼt have direct access to the Oval Office (something we had with George Stephanopoulos). Obamaʼs Greek American friends are still capable to put pressure and change some of the bad moves, but, like mythical Lernean Hydra, while we cut one head of the beast, two grow in replacement.
Recent efforts by the Greek Americans Community to stop Mehmet Ali Talatʼs meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were successful. As Greek News wrote last week, eleven leading members of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes wrote a strong letter to President Obama and Vice President Biden, reminding them their promises. The effort succeeded and on Monday, Secretary Clinton promised Archbishop Demetrios that she wonʼt meet Talat before she sees Cypriot Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou.
The “miracle” lasted less than three days. On Wednesday, the White House announced that there wonʼt be Presidential visit at the Fanar, on April 7, when Obama will be in Istanbul and on Thursday, during the nomination hearing of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affaires, Philip Gordon, the former Brookings Institution fellow adamantly refused to agree with a statement o President Obama, about “ending the Turkish occupation of north Cyprus”.
How good do you think a second, even stronger letter to President Obama, will look, in the midst of the worst world crisis? It will make Greek Americans look out of touch with reality!
Unfortunately luck strikes only few times. When George Stephanopoulos was working next to the Oval Office, we had not one or two demands but instead 5-6 open national issues. Almost all of them are still open.
In the United States most of the foreign countries – and interest groups – do not depend on personal but on professional contacts. They hire lobbies, they utilize think tanks, they spent money on fundraisers for politicians.
Greek Americans donʼt do much of that, Greece and Cyprus donʼt do any. Turkey spends tens of millions annually for lobbying and think tanks, Greece and Cyprus spend pennies, and not even them the right way.
Some of the people we blame now as “pro Turkish”, could be “pro Greek”. Philip Gordon was looking for a job and support for his academic efforts in 2001, right after he left Clintonʼs National Security Council. We snubbed him, while Turks embraced him.
Few days ago, the president of a major Washington think tank, very influential with President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton, tried unsuccessfully to see Greek Foreign Minister Doara Bakoyiannis. “Lady D” was “busy”, the same way she was busy and couldnʼt see the Jewish Lobby.
So, donʼt blame President Obama, Vice President Biden, Hillary Clinton, or (and) the various “pro-Turkish” U.S. officials, i.e. Bryza, Fried, Gordon etc! Blame ourselves! Not only for not doing the right thing, not only for doing nothing to change course, but also for trying to find scapegoats to put our own blame on.