It is my very sad duty to write this brief note paying the highest tribute to the memory of my friend of many years Senator Paul Sarbanes, who passed away last week at the age of 87.
Paul was a legislative giant and a devoted public servant. He was a Congressman for three 2-year terms and a Senator from Maryland for five 6-year terms. As such he left his mark in a variety of ways, including most recently through the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to fight fraud and apply stricter regulation in the wake of the Evron and other affairs. It became famous and, as he told me jokingly when he gave a signed copy to me with a dedication, that people thought his first name was Sarbanes and his surname was Oxley!
His education was unique: Princeton, Oxford and Harvard Law School. It so happened that the first time I came across him was at the Harvard Law School, class of 1960. Mike Dukakis, another major figure of the Greek American community, was also at the Harvard Law School, , class of 1960, as he reminded me and the visiting President Vasiliou in 1988, as Governor of Massachusetts and Democratic candidate for President.
Paul Sarbanes and I maintained a close relationship during my two terms as Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States for a total of 14 years—1979 to 1989. and 1993 to 1997. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its Sub-Committee for Europe we talked and visited often. Always available to assist on any issue concerning the just cause of Cyprus and related issues such as aid to Cyprus, he received on Capitol Hill all three Cyprus Presidents who visited Washington during my tenure Kyprianou, Vasiliou and Clerides. At the Cyprus Embassy, we always endeavored to maintain close relations with Senators and Congressmen. These included, but were not limited to, Senators Ted Kennedy, Chuck Percy, Claiborne Pell, John Kerry and of course we were also in close touch with the other two Greek American Senators, Paul Tsongas and Olympia Snowe -the latter, a Republican, was instrumental in 1995 in obtaining approval of the Clerides Demilitarisation proposal.
Evidently, this is not the occasion to go into Paul’s many achievements in his 30-year tenure as a Senator and his 6-years as a Member of the House of Representatives. Suffice it to say that, together with the other outstanding Greek American Congressman John Brademas and others he was instrumental in the imposition of the arms embargo against Turkey in 1975 for its violation of the rule of law in using American-supplied weapons in its 1974 invasion of Cyprus. In November 1983 he was also active for the adoption of the Joint Congressional Resolution condemning the Turkish UDI.
Throughout my tenure as Ambassador of Cyprus I knew I could rely on his advice and assistance and indeed personal friendship. My wife Pamela and Paul’s wife Christine met as often as we could for social as well as political events. I might mention in passing that in 1989, when I briefly became Dean of the Washington Diplomatic Corps because of seniority with all that this entailed in terms of status in official circles, Paul told me and many others that he could not understand why Cyprus gave up the Deanship by moving me-“it was like shooting yourself on the foot” was the expression he used.
Characteristic of Paul Sarbanes personality is the fact that even though he could easily achieve reelection in 2006 he decided-and told me so-that six more years in the Senate would be too long to be fully operative and productive. We and the people of Maryland are fortunate that his former Congressional seat is now held by his son John who, together with the other Greek American Congressmen and other close friends of Cyprus like Carolyn Maloney, continues the struggle to achieve justice for Cyprus.
May his memory be eternal.