Greek Americans protested Senator Coats’ hold. Ambassador Panagopoulos sends explanation letter.
Washington, DC – The United States Senate passed on Friday by unanimous consent a resolution highlighting the many bonds between the US and Greece and celebrating the 194th anniversary of the independence of Greece. This is the 30th consecutive year that such legislation has passed the US Senate.
The former Chairman of and current Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and long-time advocate of Hellenic and Orthodox causes, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), authored this bill (Senate Resolution 105), secured over 1/4 of the US Senate as co-sponsors or co-authors, and secured its passage.
The passage was made possible after Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) released on Thursday the hold he placed on March 25 – which prevented the legislation from passing via unanimous consent.
Many Greek American organizations and members of the community, mobilized by HALC and others protested the decision of Dan Coats, a well known pro Turkish senator. HALC’s executive director Endy Zemenides, George Dovelos from Indiana and other called Senator Coats’ office, directed by Constantine – Dean Hingson, a Greek American.
Coats asked for Ambassador Panagopoulos or a senior spokesman of the Greek government to publicly comment on “threatening statements and clarify whether they reflect current Greek government policy”, concerning press reports that Defense Minister Kammenos said Greece would issue travel documents to thousands of illegal immigrants – including jihadists – now held in Greek detention centers unless Greece’s economic
Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today announced that he has released
Ambassador Christos Panagopoulos in his letter said “Minister Kammenos’ statements were meant to be neither threatening nor menacing; they were merely aimed at underlying, in the most unambiguous way, the dangers deriving from illegal migration and highlighting Greece’s critical contribution in effectively managing this phenomenon.”.
“I appreciate Ambassador Panagopoulos’s response to my letter,” said Coats in a statement on Thursday afternoon. “He indicated that, ‘Greece remains committed to cooperating closely with its EU partners, within the Schengen area, on issues like protection of EU borders, management of migratory flows, asylum, in accordance with relevant EU regulations, directives and international law.’ With that reassurance, I have lifted my hold on the Senate resolution celebrating Greek Independence Day.”
Senator Coats served as U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany from 2001 to 2005.
“We appreciate that the senator and the ambassador were able to work together to address the senator’s concerns about Greek policy,” Supreme President of AHEPA Phillip T. Frangos said. “We also appreciated working with the senator’s staff to help on this issue from the perspective of the American Hellenic community. We look forward to the resolution’s swift passage in the U.S. Senate.”
“We congratulate the entire Greek American community for coming together to advance the resolution,” AHI President Nick Larigakis said. “It is important to recognize just what can be accomplished for the advancement of U.S.-Greece relations and interests when we work together.”
Larigakis commended the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), and its executive director, Mike Manatos, for bringing the legislative hold to the community’s attention; AHEPA, and its executive director, Basil Mossaidis, for its grassroots mobilization; and the Hellenic American Leadership Council, and its executive director, Endy Zemenides, for creating awareness through its social media network.
AHI has also sent a letter to Senator Coats detailing Greece’s contributions to the security interests of the U.S. and NATO and urged the Greek American community to flood the senator with calls.
This resolution notes, among other things, that:
“The founding fathers of the United States, many of whom read Greek political philosophy in the original Greek language, drew heavily on the political experience and philosophy of ancient Greece in forming the representative democracy of the United States”
“Petros Mavromichalis, the former Commander in Chief of Greece and a founder of the modern Greek state, said to the citizens of the United States in 1821, `It is in your land that liberty has fixed her abode and . . . in imitating you, we shall imitate our ancestors and be thought worthy of them if we succeed in resembling you.'”
“The Greek national anthem, the “Hymn to Liberty”, includes the words, “most heartily was gladdened George Washington’s brave land.”
“Greece, in one of the most consequential `David vs. Goliath’ victories for freedom and democracy in modern times, refused to surrender to the Axis forces and inflicted a fatal wound at a crucial moment in World War II, forcing Adolf Hitler to change his timeline and delaying the attack on Russia, where the Axis forces met defeat… Winston Churchill said, `if there had not been the virtue and courage of the Greeks, we do not know which the outcome of World War II would have been’ and ‘no longer will we say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks;'”
“Throughout the 20th century, Greece was one of a few countries that allied with the United States in every major international conflict.”
“Greece, located in a region where Christianity meets Islam and Judaism, maintains excellent relations with Muslim countries and Israel… has taken important steps in recent years to further cross-cultural understanding, rapprochement, and cooperation in various fields with Turkey and has also improved its relations with other countries in the region, including Israel, thus enhancing the stability of the wider region.”
“The governments and people of Greece and the United States are at the forefront of efforts to advance freedom, democracy, peace, stability, and human rights … those efforts and similar ideals have forged a close bond between the people of Greece and the United States.”