WASHINGTON D.C. – The “significant improvement” in Greek-U.S. relations these past few years was noted by speakers who took part in a relevant discussion within the framework of the 3rd Greek-American business conference in Washington. The conference was organised by the Hellenic American Heritage Council which promotes stronger relations between the United Strates and Greece in the commercial, cultural and defense sectors.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and leading member of the Democrats on foreign policy issues Richard Holbrooke termed as significant Greece’s support of Turkey’s European prospects, stressing that Turkey today is a country in the front line of Europe, as was Germany after World War II.
On the Cyprus issue, he underlined that the partition is unacceptable, but that he was amazed at the high percentage of Greek Cypriots who voted against UN Secretar-General Kofi Annan’s plan for a settlement of the Cyprus problem in a referendum on April 24.
On his part, U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller said that the priority of the U.S. Embassy constitutes the safe holding of the Olympic Games, with particular attention to international terrorism, and that the American government is offering every possible help to the Greek authorities, which have the responsibility for the security of the Olympic Games. Miller noted that bilateral relations today are based on firmer foundations than 20 years ago. He said the entire country has concentrated its attention on the success and safe holding of the Olympic Games and praised the works and the security infrastructure which will remain as a heritage to Greece after the Games, adding that a unique opportunity is offered to the country to show its modern image to the world.
Greek Ambassador to Washington George Savvaidis referred to the healthy, mature and mutually beneficial bilateral relatiions which are based on common values and historic alliances.
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyanni explained the purpose of her visits to cities around the world as an attempt to promote Athens, Greece and the Olympic Games as they return to their birthplace, during a speech she gave at the Greek embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday, hosted by the Greek Ambassador to Washington George Savvaidis.
“In an uncertain world, Athens will be the safest city [during the Games],” Bakoyanni reiterated, assuring attendees that Greece has made great efforts to ensure that the Athens Games are the safest possible.
The Greek ambassador praised Bakoyanni’s efforts and emphasized that following the changes Athens has undergone, the Greek capital is now a much more livable city.
MEETINGS OF THE MAYOR
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis secured US Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage’s vote of confidence in Washington. Deputy Secretary Armitage expressed appreciation for Greece’s close cooperation with international efforts to make sure visitors enjoy a safe Olympic Games.
“Greece has dedicated tremendous resources to securing the Games and through hard, determined effort, has made very good progress. We will continue to work with Greek security authorities now and throughout the Games.”
“We share the same views with Mr Armitage, namely that Greece is doing all it can in its preparations for the Games, and that all the requirements are being met to ensure safe and successful Olympics,” the Mayor said.
The Mayor also met with Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Advisor, Frances Townsend. Following their meeting the Mayor said: “I believe the American people are very much aware of the hard work that has gone into preparing secure Olympic Games.”
Mayor Bakoyannis expressed her deepest condolences for the death of former US President Ronald Reagan before addressing policy-makers, lawmakers, military officials, scholars, business leaders and journalists at the “Countdown to the Athens Olympics” event held yesterday at the Western Policy Center.
“Two words best described him: statesman and man. Ronald Reagan changed the world without firing a shot, as Margaret Thatcher so rightly puts it. He was non-collectivist, steady, friendly but firm.”
The Mayor visited Capitol Hill, where she met with Henry Hyde, Chairman of the Committee on International Relations, members of Congress and of the George Bush administration as well as with senators Paul Sarbanes, John Sununu and Gordon Smith.