NEW YORK.- Democrats from around the country “stormed” Boston for the Democratic Convention that starts today, July 26. It is the country’s first since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the security precautions at the contention and the greater Boston area are extremely heavy. On Thursday night, the 4,353 delegates will hear from their candidate and presidential hopeful, John Kerry, his vision for the country and the world, if he succeeds to unseat George Bush in November. His acceptance speech will be broadcasted nationwide. Kerry, 60, arrives in Boston on Wednesday.
For the delegates, the weekend promised a blur of pre-convention parties. Among them was a Sunday clambake for high-dollar Kerry donors, hosted by Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at the family compound on Cape Cod where John F. Kennedy sweated out the results of a close election more than four decades ago.
Besides Kerry’s acceptance speech, Thursday night will feature a discussion on Foreign Policy.
Monday’s topic of discussion will be “The Kerry-Edwards Plan for America’s Future”, with Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Bob Menendez amongst the speakers.
On Tuesday, July 27, the theme will be “A Lifetime of Strength & Service”, with Tom Daschle, Howard Dean, Richard Gephardt and Ted Kennedy at the podium.
On Wednesday they will discuss National Security issues, with John Edwards as the main speaker. Finally, on Thursday’s discussion amongst the speakers will be Madeline Albright, Senator Joe Biden, General Wesley Clark, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Representative Nancy Pelosi.
During the conference the Democrats will approve their program for the upcoming elections, known as “Democratic Platform 2004” and for the first time in years they will not include positions on Cyprus, Greco – Turkish relations and Greek- US relations. The Armenian issues were also left out of the platform.
This omission was met with negative reactions by many Greek Americans, including some of the 21 Greek American regular delegates of the Congress. Some of the Greek American leaders pushed hard both during the primaries and after, to receive a Kerry’s position statement on the Greek national issues. But under the influence of his national security advisors – some known for their strong support of pro-Turkish positions – Kerry preferred not to follow the example of all his predecessors since Jimmy Carter.
Political analysts say that Kerry moved to more conservative positions across the board in the foreign policy/national security agenda.
Connecticut State Assemblyman Demetrios Giannaros disappointed from this development, told GreekNews that he would make an effort to co-ordinate the Greek American delegates, in order to put some pressure for either an amendment in the platform, or for Kerry to issue a separate statement on Greek American issues.
Another Greek American delegate, who preferred to keep his anonymity told GreekNews that the Greek American role in the Democratic Congress has influenced negatively by the fact that many prominent Greek American Democrats will be kept out of, because they will participate at the Clergy Laity Congress. Usually the Clergy Laity Congress takes place around the 4th of July.
Unfortunately for the Greek American interests, President Bush will not send a high representative (VP Cheney or his father) at the Clergy Laity, as it was hoped by the leadership of the Archdiocese.
These political developments will limit the influence of the Greek American Community at the November elections, because on one hand, the republican administration wants to punish the Greek Cypriots for their vote in the April 24 referendum. And on the other hand the Democrats do not promise anything.
Both John Kerry and John Edwards had taken pro-Greek positions in the US Senate. AHEPA gave John Kerry in 2000, an “A” , while John Edwards got a “B+”,
Cyprus Federation President Peter Papanicolaou thinks our community should play better the game and do more about the candidates.
“Unfortunately Kerry’s campaign didn’t do anything that shows he is taking into consideration the positions of our community for the national issues. He could at least do what his predecessors have done in the past, issue a positive statement ”..
PSEKA;s President, Philip Christopher said John Kerry was not 100% with us at all times. As for Senator Edwards, who is fairly new we don’t know enough about him either.
“Greek American community has good relations with both this administration and the Kerry Campaign. I am waiting to see the platforms of both the Democratic and the Republican Party”, said Philip Christopher.
The President of PSEKA expresses disappointment on Kerry, because up to this point has not seized the opportunity to put a strong statement on the Cyprus issue.
“ I think he could have taken a big step, right after the referendum, with a statement separating him from the official policy of the State Department, vis-a-vis the Annan Plan. He has failed to do so even though he have had submitted a statement to his campaign”.
Andrew E. Manatos, President of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), in Washington D.C. has a more positive view of the Democratic positions.
“It is very reassuring that Kerry and Edwards are surrounded by such long-time advocates for Greece and Cyprus as Senator Ted Kennedy, Michael Dukakis and Richard Holbrooke, the person who single-handedly put Cyprus on track for EU accession.”
“In addition, both Kerry and Edwards have been supporters of Hellenic efforts in the U.S. Senate.”, he told GreekNews
Takey Krist, Member of the National Issues Committee of the AHEPA, this the Kerry – Edwards tickets is the best change the Greek American Community has, because the Bush administration’s policy on Cyprus is catastrophic.
“I am very disappointed. I think that before Bush was elected we had many friends in the foreign service.
Bush has favored Turkey and as you know, before Papadopoulos went to Switzerland there were 7 items that were guaranteed to Turkey and during the negotiations Papadopoulos and his team did not know about it”.
He also criticized Bush and Cheney for isolating America.
“There weren’t any countries that didn’t like us, we had a good foreign policy we were aware of the foreign policy, we certainly didn’t have all the debt in this country that we now have and I think that Bush has let the American people down”.
Takey Krist, a gynecologist from North Carolina and a constituent of Senator Edwards, AND former AHEPA President Spiro Makris had the opportunity to explain our positions to Edwards, right after his election at the Senate.
“I went to see him in the Senate building and presented him the background on Cyprus and left him some video tapes on the invasion and he was very enthusiastic, very supportive. In fact over the years he has given feedback on the Cyprus situation and also gave us his preliminary thoughts about human rights and the fact that Cyprus had to be united and be a free country”.
Despite the negative conditions, the Greek American leadership thinks that given the close elections that everybody expects for November, we still have the chance to bargain hard our political power, especially in some of the toss-up states.
Philip Christopher reminds us that during the last 30 years, whether there is a Republican Administration, or a Democratic one, we often face a fixed policy that favors Turkey.
“We will call on the Greek Americans to vote – especially in the key states like Florida where we have 80,000 Greek American voters, Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania – and put pressure on both candidates to look upon the Cyprus issue and the US-Greek relations. This is the years the Greek American Community can make the difference in the elections”.
“We have worked hard and successfully to calm dangerous tensions between our allies Greece and Turkey over issues in the Aegean, and we have never ceased our efforts to facilitate a resolution of tensions between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus. This work must continue.
In the Balkans, the Clinton-Gore Administration ended ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo by the resolute use of military power and vigorous diplomacy. The Republican Party, having first opposed the Administration’s efforts to restore peace in the region, now tries to impede the Administration’s efforts to rebuild these shattered societies. We look forward to the day when Serbia will be free from the grip of Slobodan Milosevic, and we will work to make that happen. America did right in the Balkans, and now we must finish the job.
Remembering the historic suffering of the people of Armenia, and recognizing the need of the modern Armenian state for security and economic growth, Al Gore and the Democratic Party are committed to continuing our efforts to bring a permanent end to tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, along with the restoration of diplomatic, commercial, and economic ties between Armenia and her neighbors, including Turkey. Al Gore helped bring about a special task force to intensify economic cooperation between the United States and Armenia”.
KEY PEOPLE IN NATIONAL SECURITY
Richard Morningstar, a former advisor to President Clinton on Caspian energy, was instrumental in pushing for the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. Strong candidate for the position of the National Security Advisor. He is Pro-Turkish and he is considered the key person who kept Cyprus, Greek and Armenian issues out of the Democratic platform.
Richard Holbrooke. After Sandy Burger was forced to quit, he is one of the favors for the position of the Secretary of State. He knows very well Cyprus and Greek American issues. He advised Kerry to wait until a later stage at the campaign, before he announces his positions on Cyprus.
William Perry. Former Secretary of Defense, and a supporter of a strong role for Turkey.
Joe Biden. One of the closest friends and associates of Kerry in the Senate and a candidate for Secretary of State. He is a philhellene.
Ted Kennedy. Kerry’s Guru and a philhellene and the last resort for the Greek Americans to see their positions to receive Kerry’s support.
KEY GREEK AMERICANS
Kerry was his deputy Governor. He stays on the sidelines and he is disappointed that he was ignored at the Congress, but he can influence Kerry.
Multimillionaire, head of Kerry’s campaign in New York during the primaries.
Former US Ambassador in Luxemburg, Well Known Democratic Fundraiser in the Stae of New Jersey. He is the former President of the Cyprus Federation of America/ He co-chairs Kerry campaign in New Jersey.
Highest ranking elected Democrat in the State of California (State Treasurer). His relationship with the millionaire Democratic supporter Angelo Tsakopoulos boosts his influence.
Personal friend of Kerry and of the Kennedy Clan.
THE GREEK AMERICAN DELEGATES
Constantine Avdalas, Phil Angelides, Alexandra Katsas, Christopher Stampolis, Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, Peter Zachos
Nicholas Kekas, Phil Leventis