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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002 Under Secretary for Political Affairs Remarks

U.S.-Greece Relations

Marc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Remarks to the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce
Athens, Greece
November 4, 2002

As Prepared

Introduction

Good evening everybody. Thank you Mr. President for inviting me. Thank you Ambassador Miller for that introduction. It is an honor to be back in Greece, where I have so many friends. Greece and the United States share fundamental values of freedom and democracy. We are both members of NATO, the most stable alliance in history. We have a strong and growing trade relationship. And with Greece’s becoming the European Presidency, we will work even more closely on the transatlantic agenda.

President Bush said at the White House in March of last year, "Greece and America have been allies in the great 20th Century struggles against Nazism, Soviet Communism, and Iraqi aggression. Our two nations are bound by history, by trade, by mutual respect, by common ideals, and one of the world’s most important alliances."

It is an honor to be with you tonight to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce.  I first came to Greece just after the New Year, 1973. I visited Athens and Delphi. I spent hours gazing at the Acropolis. But few Greeks I met were happy. It was a time in Greece incompatible with your great democratic tradition -- the timeless ideals which go back to the birth of democracy in ancient Athens. Today, Greece again lives the ideals it gave to the rest of us and Greeks live lives they choose, in peace, freedom and prosperity.

But of course it is not just Greece that has changed. The whole world has changed. Tonight I want to propose to you four broad themes -- the global war on terrorism, the importance of free markets, the requirement of democracy, and the impact of cultural and national identities -- that define today’s international landscape for Greece and for the United States.

I hope you will leave here tonight believing, as I do, that these trends are all related and that one of the biggest changes over the last few years, for Greece’s leaders and for ours, has been the end of our attempt to manage these things one at a time. We are all required now to do so simultaneously.

The days are gone when leaders in this world could spend Monday working on democracy and Tuesday working on the economy and Wednesday working on security and Thursday trying to figure out what their relationship is to globalization or what they intend to do to join the United States and Greece in the global fight against terrorism. Today, these jobs must be done simultaneously.

There can be no democracy without free markets. No free markets without the rule of law. The war on terror will not end our commitment to human rights; indeed democracy, security and prosperity are antidotes to terrorism.

Opportunity

Before I talk about these four trends, and their connected opportunities and challenges for Greece and for America, let's step back just a moment and recognize how far we have come. In a speech in Fulton, Missouri in 1946, Winston Churchill gave a name to an era. The iron curtain he described is gone. We live in a world of challenges that often can seem overwhelming, but this is a world also facing enormous opportunity.

Secretary Powell tells this story about the end of the Cold War:

"...Communism is gone. Fascism is gone. There are other systems out there that are being tried, but what really works is democracy. Democracy puts you into the globalized system of trade and economic development and free economics that will bring the wealth needed to bring all people up."

How Greeks and Americans take advantage of our opportunity and how we deal with the trends I will propose to you in ways that promote the great purposes of Greece and America will define our success as nations for many years to come.   Let me now talk about the four themes and how they relate to the Greek-American partnership.

First, the Global War on Terrorism

Americans and Greeks believe in peace, democracy, personal freedom, equality of opportunity, and personal responsibility. We believe in the right to seek our fortunes, and to enjoy what our hard work has earned us. That is our way of life.  The goal of terrorism is to disrupt and then try to end this way of life. This is not just America’s fight.  This is a fight for all who believe in progress, tolerance and freedom.

  • This is a war unlike any other. Rather than a nation, or group of nations, we are fighting a network of terrorists operating in more than 60 countries. It is also a war unlike any other because we also must stop the production, distribution or use of weapons of mass destruction, which are potential instruments of terror unlike any other. Nuclear weapons, biological weapons, radiological weapons and chemical weapons in the hands of terror groups or rogue states like Iraq are a fundamental challenge to American and Greek security.
  • To fight this enemy we have built a coalition unlike any other.
  • More than 90 nations have arrested or detained over 2,700 terrorists and their supporters since that dreadful day.
  • 17 nations, including Greece, have contributed nearly 6,000 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. NATO members and partners have played an especially key role.
  • 161 countries have blocked terrorist assets totaling $116 million -- $34 million in the US and $82 million abroad.

We are grateful for Greece's immediate support following the attack on 9/11. Greek aircrews patrolled our skies in NATO AWACS. Greek and American personnel tonight serve together in the Arabian Sea and in Afghanistan.  And Greece has scored a major triumph in arresting many for involvement in the November 17 terrorist group.  As Prime Minister Simitis said in Thessaloniki on September 6, "Democracy has crushed terrorism and installed a sense of security into Greek society."

We all look forward to the successful prosecution of those who had a hand in these November 17 murders.  Just after September 11, 2001 Secretary Powell said that the U.S. campaign against terrorism is directed "in the first instance" at the al-Qaida organization, "But the struggle is really against terrorism wherever it is throughout the world, and wherever it threatens civilized societies."

National rivalries, bureaucratic rivalries, must give way to the closest possible cooperation internally and internationally, to regular, immediate exchange of threat information, to good policing of borders, to a policy of zero tolerance of terrorist violence.  I’m proud of the close cooperation that has developed among our services, led by Minister Chrysochoides.

Greece has earned the honor to host in 2004, the return of the Olympic Games to their modern birthplace for the first time since 1896.   The Games are a complex challenge. Greece will emerge from a secure Summer Games with a police force and other services that enjoy the level of training and leadership, and with command, communications and control facilities that will allow Greece to confront the security challenges of this new century. We will do all we can to help Greece make the 2004 Olympics safe and secure.

Are we all safer now that the world has banded together to fight terrorism? Yes. Are we safe? Not yet. The range of threats is wide, and this is not a struggle that has a finite end. We must remain vigilant and committed.   Our best protection against terrorism is solidarity.

Second, Democracy

According to the 2001-2002 Freedom House survey of Freedom, there are today more than 120 democratic nations (of 192), and the number is growing.  Free societies work to the benefit of the many.  According to the Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties 2001-2002, free countries today account for $26.8 trillion of the world’s annual GDP (86%), as compared to Partly Free countries at $2.3 trillion (7%) and Not Free countries $2.2 trillion (7%).

I highlight Greece’s upcoming EU presidency as part of a discussion of this global trend for democracy because the EU represents the values of democracy, protection of human rights, economic stability, and free markets. Through enlargement and expansion the EU has been on the forefront of prompting democratic change throughout Europe.

Some people say that Europe and America -- Europeans and Americans -- are growing apart.  A recent Chicago Council on Foreign Relations - German Marshall Fund survey on U.S. and European public opinion reminds us that that we share a deep partnership based on common interests and shared values. Sometimes we get so caught up in daily problems that we forget this.

The poll shows that on most issues, European and American publics see the world similarly.

  • Europeans and Americans share support for international solutions to international problems. Our efforts over the last 7 weeks to come up with a common resolution in the U.N. Security Council are a prime example of this common approach toward major problems. Europeans and Americans believe their countries should play an active role in world affairs. 78% of Europeans believe their country should play an active part in the world; 71% for the same question in the United States.
  • Europeans and Americans have comparable perceptions of friends and allies and strong affinity for each other. When asked to rate the warmth of feelings on a given scale Americans and Europeans like and dislike the same countries – with Iraq, by the way, at the bottom of both European and American rating scales.
  • Asked to rate threats to their country’s national security over the next 10 years, the same threats appear at the top of both lists: international terrorism, Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and fundamentalism.

    Third, Free Markets

    Free markets harness energy, ambition, innovation, talent and industry. To succeed in our simultaneous world, they also require accountability, rule of law, human rights, and democracy.  In the past 50 years there has been a significant trend toward free markets.  The U.S. – Greek relationship reflects this growth in free markets.

    Trade and investment are the engines that drive the U.S.-Greek relationship. The volume of bilateral trade since the 1980's has nearly doubled. The U.S. is one of the largest investors in Greece, with direct and indirect interests valued at about $2.3 billion. The AMCHAM has worked for the past 70 years for the success of U.S.-Greek commercial relations, fighting to remove obstacles to investment, and assure the densest possible web of the personal contacts that make for efficient markets. The AMCHAM is also a significant force for regional cooperation, with Turkey, the Balkans, the Middle East. I am proud to say that you have our full support.

    Greece has purchasing power that continues to expand at a rapid rate. Greece also stands as the gateway to historic markets in the Balkans and the Middle East, to the Black Sea and potentially beyond. Greece is already at the center of a core market of 50 million Balkan consumers.

    U.S. firms have bid on major projects and investments in Greece, particularly related to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The U.S. has much to offer in the development of tourism and athletic infrastructure and security systems. U.S. defense technology is an integral part of Greece's military modernization and upgrade program.

    With the EU Presidency in the first half of 2003 and the Olympic Games in August 2004 following, Greece will be in the global spotlight. An area I know the AMCHAM takes very seriously is the task of creating the right climate for foreign investment.

    I applaud the Chamber’s efforts to attract U.S. business partners and to help them succeed here and in the broad region Greece serves. Answers to business problems will be found through active dialogue between the business community and the state.

    Each successful new business connection between Greece and the United States is a tribute to a two-centuries-old friendship. It is also a vote of confidence in free markets and in a relationship that I believe will grow ever more dynamic and creative as this new century progresses.

    Fourth, Cultural and National Identities

    For centuries, people lived in relative isolation.   During the Cold War, cultures and civilizations became defined by the struggle between the US and the Soviet Union. People once separated by Cold War ideology but united by culture can come together, as the two Germanys did, and as the two Koreas may some day.

    Today’s international agenda is framed by the interaction of cultures and civilizations. Many nations are defining or redefining themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions.   Societies which were once united by Cold War ideology or historical circumstance, but divided by civilization, either came apart, like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, or are subjected to strain, like Nigeria and Sudan.

    It is an understandable reaction to globalization for people to identify or re-identify with their ethnic groups and cultures. Emphasizing one’s identity, culture and ethnicity does not automatically lead to conflict; this happens only when this emphasis is mobilized and exploited to divide and not to unite in diversity.

    Greece and Turkey make this case. Both countries have rich historical traditions, strong national identities and proud cultures. Thanks to the vision of courageous leaders like Prime Minister Simitis, George Papandreou, and their Turkish counterparts, Greece and Turkey have taken important steps over the last several years to bridge differences that once divided. Most Greeks and most Turks were ready to put aside rhetoric and engage as neighbors. The United States has opened a Consulate in Ismir, Turkey, in order to directly assist Turkish/Greek-American business opportunities in the region. AMCHAM members pursuing business opportunities have been at the forefront of efforts to turn good neighbors into good business partners.

    Between now and the December 12 EU Summit in Copenhagen, we have an opportunity to achieve two important goals -- dare I say simultaneously -- for the region: a settlement in Cyprus and advancement of Turkey’s EU candidacy.  On October 25, the European Union announced its determination to conclude accession negotiations with Cyprus. We support the accession of Cyprus to the EU, and believe that the accession process provides an incentive to a settlement. We also support the UN Good Offices Mission and the EU Council’s decision at Helsinki.

    I believe President Clerides and Mr. Denktash want history to know them as peacemakers – and they can. This is the best chance we have had in over a decade--perhaps longer--to resolve the Cyprus problem. The whole international community stands ready to support the agreement they reach.

    But a Cyprus settlement is not the only opportunity that exists this Fall. The Copenhagen EU Summit, like the 1999 Helsinki Summit, offers an opportunity for the EU to take further bold steps that have already contributed to the historic reforms in Turkey. While credit goes to the Turks first and foremost for what they have done in their own interest, it is fair to say that the groundbreaking August 3 reforms -- which reflect the desire of the Turkish people for enhanced democracy and rule-of-law -- might not have been passed without the EU’s 1999 decision that designated Turkey as a candidate for EU membership.

    Although we are not members of the EU, and this is an EU decision to make, I agree with Foreign Minister Papandreou that setting a date for Turkey to start accession negotiations would be a remarkable incentive for Turkey to continue along the reform path its people want.

    The Government of Greece has recognized the possibilities in these weeks to come. Greece has a crucial role to play in conveying this message to others, not that the rules of the EU should be bent on Turkey’s behalf, but rather that the EU should ensure that Turkey has the incentive to keep meeting the standards for membership.

    The period to the Copenhagen Summit on December 12 is one of remarkable simultaneous opportunity: Everyone must do their part.   A settlement on Cyprus, Cyprus in the EU, and a Turkey even more securely anchored to the West will profoundly change the region. We have seen this boldness with Greece and Turkey's decisions to cancel military exercises on Cyprus for the foreseeable future. Let us seize the opportunity to change the future of the region.

    Conclusion

    So what do these four trends tell us about the future of Greek and American foreign policy? Our nations today are in a unique position in the world. We are both more integrated into the global system than at any time in our history. Our strength and our openness have allowed the Greece and the United States to become beneficiaries and the benefactors of globalization. More nations today are free even if there is still a huge "democracy deficit" around this world. Free markets have brought millions out of poverty even if there are millions yet to be benefited. Diversity is a strength, not a weakness.

    At the same time, we are more vulnerable to attack than at any time in our recent histories. The same openness that comes with globalization can be used by its opponents and enemies against us.  Our enemies will fail. But we have a long struggle in front of us. I have no doubt that if al-Qaeda or November 17 had somehow been able to obtain weapons of mass destruction, they would have tried to use them. And we know that they are trying hard to obtain them today. In a world in which a terrorist attack can be planned in Kabul, refined in Europe and carried out in the United States, our response must be a global one.

    One final quote from Secretary Powell:

    "Democracy and free markets work, and the world knows it. And there is no finer example of this than America and its allies. And there should be no question in any world leader's mind that the first and most essential ingredient for success in the 21st century is a free people and a government that derives its right to govern from the consent of such people."

    That was a goal shared by Greeks and Americans on September 10, 2001. It is a goal at the foundation of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce. It remains our goal today.



    Released on November 5, 2002

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