Molyviatis discussed Balkans and Cyprus issue with his American counterpart during Washington talks
Washington, D.C. – The ‘excellent state’ of Greek-American relations, according to visiting Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was reiterated here during a joint press conference on Thursday afternoon following talks by the two sides.
Expectedly, the long-standing Cyprus issue, recent Balkan developments and all-important Greek-Turkish relations dominated the talks between the two long-time allies.
“We, of course, discussed the Balkans and the Mediterranean and we greeted with satisfaction this mobility towards the spread of democracy and freedom in many parts of the world. I think (US) President (George W.) Bush has reasons to be quite happy these days,” Molyviatis said, adding:
“Also, we discussed, of course, Cyprus and we considered ways in which we can promote our common objective, which is the reunification of the island … through negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan. And, frankly, I could say that we have both agreed to further strengthen our cooperation in all fields,” the veteran Greek diplomat said.
On her part, Rice noted that “we had an opportunity to review the excellent state of relations between Greece and the United States, the outstanding bilateral relationship that we have, and also our joint desire and commitment for the spread of democracy and freedom throughout the world.”
“Greece has been a strong supporter of the work that we are doing in the broader Middle East, in Afghanistan, in supporting the people of Iraq, as they are concerned and looking forward to a better future based on the elections that they’ve had,” Rice, who took over from Colin Powell as America’s top diplomat in the second Bush administration, added.
She also said discussions focused on the Balkans, noting that “great progress” has been made although “many challenges yet to meet”.
“And we have no better friend in meeting these and other challenges than our friends in Greece,” Rice emphasised.
Moreover, both officials answered, in glowing terms, questions about their “personal chemistry”, with Rice stressing that “…I particularly like the foreign minister here. We have a very good relationship. He has a wonderful sense of humour and I always find that when you can share a sense of humour with somebody, that it’s maybe one of the most important ingredients for a really warm relationship. And I think we’ve developed a warm relationship”
“I just wanted to say that the feeling is mutual,” was Molyviatis’ reply.
While Rice fielded a handful of press questions concerning the current crisis in Kyrgyzstan, she also returned to Greek-American cooperation, especially in Athens’ immediate region.
“In terms of Greece’s role, there is going to be a broad consultation on where we go with Kosovo. Obviously, Greece is in the neighbourhood. The foreign minister (Molyviatis) was describing to me some of the very active diplomacy that they have been doing in the region to try and get all the parties to see that the notion of standards before status can be achieved, that we need to move forward on questions in the region like the surrender of war — people charged with war crimes to the ICTY (international court), that we need to work on the economic development of the region. And I thought the foreign minister made a very important point that the hope, one day, for the integration of this region into the European structures is also an extremely important incentive and drawing card for the peaceful resolution of all of these conflicts,” the US Secretary of State added.
On his part, Molyviatis again echoed Athens’ standing position for a mutually acceptable solution to the FYROM ‘name issue’, the only remaining ‘thorn’ preventing the full normalisation of Greek-FYROM relations, albeit a significant one.
Asked about what ‘strategic areas’ Athens and Washington could work together, Rice again turned to the Balkans:
“… First of all, we did talk about our joint responsibilities as members of NATO and the responsibilities that we hold in trying to promote stable and progressive developments in the Balkans. That is a place where we’ve had very, very good cooperation and where it’s extremely important that that process move forward. We have some reports that will be coming forward, for instance, on Kosovo. We believe that this is an area that is ripe for cooperation between Greece and the United States, as well as the other members of NATO.
“… We also talked about the Mediterranean, where we share interest and where there are now very active movements toward democracy, and perhaps we could find a strategic common purpose there. The Foreign Minister also talked about what they might be able — what Greece might be able to do as we continue to try to stabilize Afghanistan and as we try to provide for the Iraqi people support for their newly elected transitional government.
So this is wide ranging. We did not have a talk today although we have talked, of course, in the past about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian issue, where Greece has an important role with us to play in helping the Palestinian people to develop institutions that can be the institutions on which a state can be built,” she said.
Finally, according to diplomatic sources in Washington, the US side did not bring up the issue of Greek involvement in Iraq or further reinforcements in the anti-terrorism front.