The Visit

What the Americans said to Mr Papandreou

by St. Efstathiadis

(“Vima”, May 27, 2001)

Washington, May.

Dealing with the “unstable and dangerous” state of affairs in the Balkans, Turkey’s progress towards Europe and the progress of relations between Athens and Ankara, plans for the “Missile Defense System”, the “‘gargantuan” energy crisis, terrorism and in general the problems that it creates in U.S. relations with other countries—and with Greece, of course—were all issues which the Foreign Minister George Papandreou, discussed with his counterpart Colin Powell, vice-president Dick Cheney, presidential advisor Mrs Rice, Undersecretary of Defence Paul Wolfovitz, head of the CIA George Tennet, senators, think tank members and others during his official visit to Washington from 21st to 24th May. During his stay, Foreign Ministry staff had a series of meetings with twenty or more members of Congress committees, which play a major role in forming the opinions of congressmen and senators on all political issues.

Placing the issues under discussion in this particular order was not pure chance. Issues were ranked according to the degree of interest on the part of the Americans as this emerged in discussions the Minister had with Mr Powell and Mrs Rice. At present Washington seems interested in and most concerned over the Balkan issue. The USA has, so far, not formulated a policy for the region. It is giving a great deal of thought to how long American troops should stay there and indicated agreement with Greek evaluation of the situation; that changes in borders and the pseudo-independence of minorities do not constitute a solution; that the withdrawal of troops from the region before the situation has become stable would be a catastrophe; and that quashing corruption is of vital importance as corruption fuels terrorism. It is significant that many participants in the discussions encouraged the Greek side with the words, “We agree with your views. Carry on, we will give you our support.


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