Greek News endorses Barack Obama for President.
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Greek News joins many main stream U.S. media in endorsing Democratic Candidate Barack Obama for President of the United States. Greek Newsʼ editorial points out that although the newspaper – with the exception of Greek American candidates – avoids endorsing politicians and parties, the graveness of the financial and political situation in the United States and the World, along with the failed policies preached by the Republican candidate John McCain and President Bush vis-à-vis Greece, force us to endorse Barack Obama for President. In addition Greek News points out that both Obama and McCain have taken positive positions on the Greek American issues and have stayed close to our community.
“Our Community doesnʼt have anyone close to John McCain to influence him on the Greek issues. Despite efforts by Greek American politicians who have tried hard during Bushʼs 8 years to influence administrative decisions on Cyprus and Macedonia, Bush recognized FYROM as Macedonia, dayʼs after 2004 election and tried to penalize Cyprus for the rejection of the Annan plan”, Greek News editorial points out.
“As Americans and Hellenes we fully support Barack Obama and Joe Biden … We call every Greek American to vote for them. We extend a special call to the elder and more conservative generations of Greek Americans, to see the race of the Democratic candidate not as a negative factor, but as another historic step of the United States for the true brotherhood, equality and democracy our forefathers dreamed.”. (The full text in the Greek language section)
On Saturday, Greek American daily “The National Herald” also endorsed Obama, as “the leader of the future.”, while two major U.S. newspapers, The New York Times and Washington Post also endorsed Obama last week
Greek News hosts the views of prominent Greek Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, who spoke to our Washington senior correspondent Lambros Papandoniou about the two presidential candidates.
SENATOR OLYMPIA SNOWE
Senator John McCain and I have known each other for 26 years, from our service together in both the United States House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. I was very pleased that Senator McCain recently sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging greater American effort to address the crisis facing the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I was also pleased that individuals involved in Senator McCainʼs campaign recently join me in pressing the White House regarding Greeceʼs entry into the Visa Waiver program. As a result, technical talks between Greece and the United States which had been stalled since April were restarted. It is my sincere hope that these talks will be concluded in time to admit Greece in the very near future.
The people of Greece can be assured that next year I will continue my attempt to correct Americaʼs mistaken policy toward the problems FYROM is causing for Greece, and will work toward that end with John McCain should he be elected President. As you know, Senator Bob Menendez and I sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to end Americaʼs bilateral recognition of FYROM as “Macedonia”, a name t hat describes a territory 55 percent of which is in Greece and 9 percent of which is in Bulgaria. Such an action would be an appropriate decision in light of FYROMʼs recent rejection of names describing only those parts of ancient Macedonia within its borders, “Northern Macedonia” and “Upper Macedonia.”
CONGRESSMAN JOHN SARBANES
Iʼve been energized by the Obama-Biden campaign for all the promise that it represents. As an American, I am inspired by the leadership qualities that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have demonstrated in this hard fought contest to bring about the change that we need in Washington. As a member of the Democratic Party, I am heartened by the unity and the well spring of support that is characterizing our efforts to put Barack Obama in the White House. And as a Greek American I am delighted that the White House will be commanded by Barack Obama and Joe Biden, two outstanding leaders who have shown friendship to the Greek American community.
Not since the campaign of Michael Dukakis has the Greek American community benefited from the opportunity of having a presidential ticket so well versed in the issues that are important to Greece and Greek Americans. Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden have been outstanding in their support of the Patriarchate, Cyprus and on the Macedonian name dispute.
Senator Obama is explicit in his demands that Turkey respect the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He has gone further by insisting that Turkey end its seizure of Greek Orthodox Church property and that it permit the Halki School of Theology to reopen and fulfill its mission to educate future generations of church clergy. I feel that Senator Obamaʼs support for freedom rings loud for the Patriarchate because Barack Obama believes in individual liberties with personal conviction. Senator Obama is on record that he wants to lead an America with greater moral credibility, an America that will have the honesty in its diplomatic relations to call upon its allies to respect the rule of law and individual liberties.
Both Senators Obama and Biden have stated that a Cyprus solution must be based on the rule of law. Just this week the Obama-Biden campaign characterized Turkeyʼs presence in Cyprus as one of occupation. It is significant that an Obama-Biden White House will view the current state of affairs in Cyprus as a matter of “occupation” and not inter-communal conflict. The ongoing reunification talks in Cyprus provide a real opportunity for getting rid of the divisions that have kept the Cypriot people apart for more than 30-years. A White House that has the requisite sensitivity and understanding to engage with the UN, EU, Greece, Turkey and the two Cypriot communities will be of immense value in helping a just resolution come about on Cyprus.
In recent years the Macedonian name dispute has weighed on the US-Greece alliance. Unfortunately, the Bush administration upon securing its reelection recognized FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia” without consulting the Congress or leading Greek Americans. This relationship was again further strained at the Bucharest Summit. When we compare what George Bush was doing in the White House, with what Senator Obama was doing in the Senate itʼs obvious that Senator Obama understands that a wrong course has been charted. Senator Obama, along with Senators Menendez and Snowe, is an original co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 300, which calls on FYROM to halt its hostile activities and work with the United Nations and Greece to find a mutually acceptable name for FYROM. Again Senator Obama did not criticize Greece for disagreeing with the Bush administration over the entry of FYROM into NATO, but instead he understands that a long standing and dependable American ally is seeking to resolve through the diplomatic process the hostile provocations it faces from a neighbor who is acting ever more irrationally. An ever increasing irrationality, I might add, that is due in large measure to the Bush administrationʼs lack of credibility on this issue.
Everywhere we turn today we face challenge, whether it is the economy, the environment or global security. With an Obama-Biden victory I believe that America will regain its moral leadership and the freedom loving people of the world will step-out from the shadows and vocally support America. After all America really matters to the world, but only Americans can vote for a new president. The only option the rest of the world has to show what it supports is to voice an opinion. This is why I believe that the world is cheering Obama on so strongly. The whole freedom loving world yearns for the America that Obama represents fairness, honesty, progress and justice. I believe that freedom loving people will come forward with energy, enthusiasm and creativity and stand with America to overcome these challenges if our president is named – Barack Obama.
CONGRESSMAN ZACK SPACE
This presidential election is perhaps the most important in recent history for many reasons, not least of which is that our next president will have a unique opportunity to improve our nation’s standing in the world.
Our next President must meet the challenge of supporting Cypriots as they confront the continued illegal occupation of their nation, backing Orthodox Greeks and the Ecumenical Patriarchate as they stand up for their religious freedom and human rights, and continue efforts to stabilize the entire Balkan region.”
As you know the economic crisis is weighing heavily on the minds of voters. It is the one issue that has dominated the news for the past several weeks. It will, I believe, determine who wins the next election.
I think the only presidential candidate who has the experience and steady hand to lead America through these times is Senator John McCain. Senator McCain is widely regarded by liberals, moderates, and conservatives, as a reformer at heart whose only political affiliation is to the American people.
John McCain has been a friend of the Bilirakis family since 1982 when he and my father, Michael Bilirakis, entered Congress together as members of the Republican freshman class. For years my father had an opportunity to discuss with John McCain the issues important to the Hellenic community.
I also had an opportunity on a couple of different occasions to share my thoughts with Senator McCain on US-GREECE relations. Most recently, I had a private meeting with Senator McCain, his foreign policy advisor, and Ambassador Alexandros Mallias. We had a lengthy discussion on a wide variety of issues regarding Greece as a strong ally of the United States. There was particular emphasis placed on the importance on U.S. leadership to encourage FYROM to resolve the name issue with Greece in a mutually agreed upon resolution.
I’m also grateful that Senator McCain worked with my office in sending a letter to President Bush urging him to direct Turkey to grant religious freedom to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Americans know that John McCain is a champion of religious freedom for all oppressed peoples in the world and I appreciate his recognition of the serious violations that are being perpetrated by the Turkish government against the Orthodox Holy See.
In our meeting, Senator McCain greeted me as a member of his “favorite political family in America.” I appreciated his warmth and hospitality and look forward to working with his administration.
I also had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with Governor Sarah Palin in July. I was impressed with her intelligence, sincerity, and enthusiasm.
If Senator McCain and Governor Palin become President and Vice President of the United States, I know I will have a direct line to the White House and be able to continually share my concerns on issues that matter to the Hellenic community such as freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, resolution to the name issue between Greece and FYROM, entrance into the Visa Waiver program for Greece, and a just and peaceful settlement agreement that leads to the reunification of Cyprus.
JOHN BRADEMAS FORMER CONGRESSMAN
As the first native-born American of Greek origin – my late father was born in Kalamata – elected to the Congress of the United States, I have naturally had a keen interest in U.S. relations with Greece. Accordingly, I was actively involved while in Congress in responding to the crisis that followed the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkish military forces, equipped with arms supplied by the United States, an illegal use of American weapons, as U.S. law mandates that such arms be used solely for defensive purposes. I helped win an embargo by Congress on future U.S. weapons to Turkey and opposed the later lifting of the embargo. Only last May, in an address in Nicosia, at the University of Cyprus, I voiced anew my concern about the continuing military occupation of Cyprus by Turkish forces.
As the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, it seems to me obvious that so long as Turkish armed forces occupy Cyprus, Turkey will not be admitted to the EU.
I was glad recently to join my fellow Greek-Americans who hold or have held public office – Michael Dukakis, Paul Sarbanes, John Sarbanes, Niki Tsongas, Alexi Giannoulias and Phil Angelides – in urging support on November 4 of Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice President of the United States.
As my colleagues and I said, “Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden are friends of the Greek-American community.”
For example, we said, “Senator Obama has demanded that Turkey honor the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” which includes Ceding the seizure of Greek Orthodox Church property and the reopening of the School of Theology in Istanbul.
With but a short time left before Election Day, I believe the outlook is bright for the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden as President and Vice President of the United States and for increased Democratic majorities in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
ANDY MANATOS PRESIDENT OF THE COORDINATED EFFORT OF HELLENES
My favorite election quote is that `God created election predictors to make weather forecasters look good.ʼ However, we Cretans are brave so here goes. It appears at the moment as though Senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be elected President and Vice President. However, I believe that 10% to 15% of traditional Democrats20over the age of 70 will not vote for Obama because he is half African-American. They incorrectly believe that all African-American leaders identify with the belief that the thing keeping the African-American community economically depressed is white racism, instead of the African-Americanʼs 50% school dropout rate and the 30% convicted felon rate for their males. It appears, however, that this minus will be overcome by the attractiveness of Obama and Biden and the Republican-associated economic crisis hitting America.
On our issues, I can say the following. I can compare Obama and Biden to other Presidents who were friends of Greece because: I am the son of a father who worked in the White House for Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson; I served as an Assistant Secretary for President Jimmy Carter; and I am friends with former President Bill Clinton — the man who switched France and Germany so that Cyprus could accede early to the EU, got Turkey to withdraw from Imia, got the Omonia Five released from jail in Albania and stopped FYROM from using the White Tower of Salonika and Star of Vergina on their currency and flag. Obama and Biden will take office having done one hundred times more than any other President did before getting elected.
But, if they are elected, donʼt expect to see great change immediately for our issues. The bureaucracy, which controls 90% of our governmentʼs policy, will be the same. Remember we had to draft a law, and get the U.S. Congress to pass it, in order to get the government of our friend Bill Clinton to press Turkey as to what they did with the missing on Cyprus.
If they are elected, and we can keep our behind-the-scenes lobbying strong, you will see, over time, a great improvement in American policy toward Cyprus, Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. But, remember that the last time we built our Congressional base of advocates to half the House and Senate and accomplished great things like early accession to the EU and Turkish aid cut from one billion a year to zero, people lost sight of the importance of behind-the-scenes lobbying. Congressional advocates fell by 83% in the Senate and 77% in the House and Cyprus got the Annan Plan.
ANDREW ATHENS PRESIDENT OF HELLENICARE
The upcoming elections wilt no doubt have an impact on how America proceeds both domestically and internationally. The current emphasis is on our economy and the current financial crisis we are experiencing. Yet, we cannot ignore the tenuous situation abroad. The recent conflict between Georgia and Russia has demonstrated how fragile peace can be when two neighboring countries do not always agree. Therefore, it is my opinion, whoever is elected President, will need to balance our domestic policies with our foreign policies.
As to our expectations regarding the national issues of Greece, Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate both candidates have been supportive of our issues.
Each seeks a resolution to the situation in C1prus and view Greece as an ally and friend. In my opinion, both candidates understand the precarious situation of our Ecumenical Patriarchate is living in and respect human and religious rights. We hope that they will continue their support and assist us in finding a just and respectful solution to these issues.