President Bush called Greece a Strategic Partner of the US
Washington D.C. – On Friday, U.S. President George W Bush welcomed Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis in the Oval Office for the second time this year. Shortly after the Prime Minister spoke of a cordial and productive conversation, during which the excellent bilateral relations and the will for a closer partnership in the areas of mutual interest, aimed at the promotion of freedom and peace, were confirmed.
Earlier, the U.S. President spoke of the commencement of a strategic partnership. Mr Karamanlis mentioned that during the meeting, the FYROM name issue and Greek-Turkish relations, among others, were examined, issues that the U.S. President comprehended the Greek positions.
On the occasion, the Greek Prime Minister sent a clear message to FYROM and Turkey on their stance thus far. He also made reference to the interest for stability in the Balkans, and of finding a resolution for the Cypriot conflict.
Mr Karamanlis noted that the U.S. and Greece give special importance to the developments in the Balkans, where the strategic priorities are “peace, stability and prosperity.” Making reference to the Kosovo issue he noted that Greece believes that it is essential for the immediate application of the criteria, before the discussion for the final form of government commences.
On the issue of the FYROM name, Mr Karamanlis underlined that Greece accepts the proposals by UN Mediator Mathew Nimitz “as a window of opportunity and the basis for further negotiations,” a fact that is however rejected by the other side. “I am saddened as there is no positive reciprocation. A mutual acceptable solution will have a positive impact on our bilateral relations and the stability of the area, but also to the Euroatlantic intentions of the neighboring country,” the Prime Minister said, and added that the U.S. government can play a substantial part in this issue.
According to sources, the climate was positive from the U.S. side, as to the efforts and the pressures to be reinforced in order to find a solution of the naming.
On the Cypriot issue, the Prime Minister stated that Greece remains steadily directed in a fair and viable solution based on the Annan plan, the decisions of the Security Council and the beliefs and values of the EU. “I believe we have to move steadily with careful steps forward,” said Mr Karamanlis.
The Prime Minister also commented on the issue of the increasing military activity in the Aegean, noting that Greece has supported the European prospect of Turkey and is working for the full normalization of the relations, while he added, “surely this should be reflected in the behavior and the military activities of Turkey.” “In the context of the Security Council both of our countries are directed to the advancement of the main ideas and principles of peace, stability and democracy,” he noted.
Answering to a question concerning Iraq, Mr Karamanlis said, “Greece observes what arises from its relations with the Allies and the commitments it has taken up. There is nothing new on this issue.”
Replying to other questions concerning the U.S.’s stance on the issue of the FYROM name and the Turkish military activity, Mr Karamanlis noted that the Greek positions were fully comprehended.
George W Bush welcomed the Greek Prime Minister in his office in the White House shortly after 20:00.The two men exchanged a warm handshake and Mr Bush wished Kostas Karamanlis the best on his name day tomorrow. During the first statements they gave before the start of the official discussions, the U.S. President spoke of the close partnership between the two countries for the expansion of freedom and peace, while he referred to the success of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. “I was sure you would make it and that is why I sent my family,” said the U.S. President. From his part, Mr Karamanlis confirmed the excellent relations between the two countries, and noted that Greece and the U.S. have common aims and will continue working closely for their achievement.
Mr Karamanlis met with Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar to whom he presented the range of national issues and briefed him on the Greek positions.
The meeting between Karamanlis and Lugar took place in a very good climate and their common conclusion was that Greek-U.S. relations are at a very good level, while all national issues were discussed.
Mr Karamanlis gave special emphasis on the FYROM issue, and commented on the fact that for the first time after many years, there is a detailed proposal for a solution which, as he said, we do not fully agree with, but the Greek side believes that this conflict should be settled, as it obstructs the very good relations between the two countries.
On the Cypriot issue, Mr Karamanlis expressed Athens’ wish for a new initiative for a solution to take place, noting the importance of the U.S.’s assistance.
On the discussion over Greek-Turkish relations, Mr Karamanlis stated to the Republican Senator that Greece supports the European prospect of Ankara, underlining the need for Turkey to make amends to its respect of European principles and values.
Earlier, Democrat Senator of Greek descent Paul Sarbanis, visited the Greek Prime Minister at his hotel, and both men were briefed on the issues that concern Greece and the broader region.
Shortly before traveling from Washington to Boston, Greek PM Kostas Karamanlis gave an interview to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. In his introduction, the American reporter said Greece is a key-ally of the USA from the Balkans to Afghanistan and also referred to the PM’s meeting with the US President. The discussion focused on a wide range of issues, from the phenomenon of anti-Americanism to the developments in Iraq and Afghanistan and the cooperation between Greece and the USA. Following, the PM gave an interview to CNN International.
Mr Karamanlis traveled to Boston, where he was warmly welcomed by the Governor of the State of Massachusetts, Archbishop Dimitrios of America and tens of expatriate Greeks. On Sunday, Tufts University from which he graduated proclaimed him honorable doctor.
Welcoming Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Boston, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney praised Greece for impeccably handling the Athens 2004 Olympics.
“We thank Greece and the Greeks for the superb Olympic Games that they offered us,” said Romney, who was chief organiser of the Salt Lake City winter games.
Karamanlis noted his sentimental attachment to Boston, where he studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
He also said that ties were close between Massachusetts and Greece through the state’s ethnic Greek community.
Present at the city’s airport on Friday were Archbishop Demetrios of America and local officials.
On Saturday, the prime minister toured Boston’s Museum of Fine Art. He said that he wanted to promote cooperation with Greek museums.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Saturday sharply criticised the government for maintaining an alliance with the USA following a meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President Bush.
“The strategic cooperation between the USA and Greece confimed by Messrs Karamanlis and Bush means what we all know – that Greece implements anti-people policy in the Balkans and Middle East as part of the imperialist system, and based on a policy of so-called combatting terrorism,” the KKE said in a statement.
In a separate news release, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology said the meeting’s outcome confirmed the government’s intention of shifting to a more pro-Atlantic policy.
“We are worried because this entails a new role for the country within US planning in the Balkans and Middle East,” the party said.