They proposed for military, humanitarian and economic aid to Greece. Obama administration seeks Greek American leadership’s help in their efforts in Cyprus.
Washington, DC.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek-American leaders in meetings they had on Wednesday and Thursday in Washington, with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Amanda Sloat, National Security Council Senior Director for European Affairs Charles Kupchan, Special Advisor to VP Biden for Europe and Eurasia, Mike Carpenter and prominent members of Congress, urged them to take full advantage of this historic opportunity to end the division and occupation of Cyprus, which began 41 years ago Monday.
Each year, these leaders – most of them representing Cypriot American organizations – have come to DC for such meetings to commemorate the July 20 invasion and occupation of Cyprus. However, because of the high interest expressed by the U.S. Officials on the developments in Greece, there were serious discussions about how the United States can help actively their ally. The US officials took notice of the proposals that involved not only political support, but financial, military and humanitarian aid.
The U.S. officials told the Greek Americans that never before have the Cypriot communities – Greek and Turkish – gotten so far in the talks and agreed on how to end the division and that it is now up to Turkey to support this cooperation and not get in the way of a settlement.
Those participating in these meetings included:
Philip Christopher, President, PSEKA (International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus)
Endy Zemenides, Executive Director, Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC)
Savas Tsivicos, President, Hellenic Federation of New Jersey
Zenon Christodoulou, Founding Chair, New Jersey Hellenic-American Heritage Commission
Andy Manatos, President, Coordinated Effort of Hellenes
Mike Manatos, Executive Director, Coordinated Effort of Hellenes.
Philip Christopher characterized all meetings very positive and refreshing an the way US officials approached the problem.
“They were very clear and they have asked for our help. We identified that even though there is a good climate and optimism with the Anastasiades – Akinci meetings, we understand that it depends on Ankara and Erdogan and what they will do. We understand they wait to see if a government will be formed in Turkey and we heard that if there a coalition between AKP and the Nationalists it’s not going to be positive”.
U.S. officials shared the view that today Turkey needs more the U.S. rather than the other way around, because of ISIL, the Kurdish issue and the huge number of the refugees.
“They see an opportunity and they stress they will work very hard to take advantage of the situation.”
U.S. officials praised the Republic of Cyprus as a strategic partner of the United States and they will work to deepen the bilateral relations.
Regarding Greece, Philip Christopher said that every single U.S. official asked from their views and advice.
“We presented them with an idea of a plan – something similar to the aid to Egypt. This is the time for the United States to gain points and step up with Greece, offering grants, humanitarian, and military aid and loans to its long standing ally. Greece has to be supported. They were receptive and they suggested working with our senators and congressmen to push for it.”
Philip Christopher said they will start working with the members of Congress to see how they will proceed.
“One last thing; The Greek Cypriot Community of the United States is the one fighting for Greece today.”
Endy Zemenides expressed satisfaction with the high level priority shown by the administration.
“I am a little concerned with the lack of urgency in terms of pressing Turkey. As I noted to some of our meetings, I would like very simply the same principles applied in the Iran deal. A process and a deal built not merely on trust but on verification. The trust is to be built between the two communities. I would like to see little more sense of urgency making Turkey show something”.
Savas Tsivicos sees a change of tone in US officials and how to deal with Cyprus issue and Greece as well.
“We have a sincere discussion in our meetings and we will continue to do so. I think they realize the important role Greek American community can play and they seek out cooperation and help, something we haven’t seen in the past. I think our contacts with the administration will continue”.
Zenon Christodoulou told Greek News that in addition to the unique opportunity is unfolding within Cyprus, the Obama administration is very willing to get engaged at a higher level to continue the influence they had in the global politics in the last few months.
“I firmly believe that the administration sees this opportunity as another on a list of successes they had in the region and across the world and they will dedicate some time and effort to solve this long standing problem.”
On Thursday, the delegation met with House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), folloed by meetings with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member, Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD).