By Congressman John P. Sarbanes
Iʼve been energized by the promise of the Obama-Biden Campaign. As an American, I am inspired by the leadership qualities that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have demonstrated at a time when our world needs strong leadership. 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 our nation will be led by two individuals who have shown sensitivity on issues of concern to the Greek American community.
Not since the campaign of Michael Dukakis has there been the prospect of a presidential ticket so well versed in the issues that are important to 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 ending 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 to bring about a just resolution 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, it is 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 understands that a long standing and dependable American ally is seeking to resolve through the diplomatic process the hostile provocations it faces from an increasingly irrational neighbor.
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 restore its moral leadership and begin to recapture the respect of freedom loving people across the world.
**** Congressman John P. Sarbanes is a Democrat representing Marylandʼ s 3rd CD.