Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis speaks to TNH, does not anticipate major changes in Greek-American relations

NEW YORK — Relations between Greece and the U.S. are exceptional and are enhanced by the Greek-American communitys significant presence, however, significant changes and surprises should not be anticipated during Barack Obamas tenure as President of the United States, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told The National Herald in an interview at the start of her current visit to the United States.

Referring to her upcoming meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and replying to a question on what changes shed like to see in Greek-American relations, Mrs. Bakoyannis said she did not believe that substantial changes or surprises should be expected in bilateral relations between the two allies, and highlighted the exceptionally good relations that exist between the two national Governments and people.

Mrs. Bakoyannis said she believes Greece will enjoy fruitful cooperation with the new US administration, aimed at advancing bilateral ties and international cooperation.

She also added that both the new U.S, President and his associates have indicated that they were knowledgeable on issues of particular interest to Greece, and expressed her belief that Hillary Clinton will be a very active Secretary of State who will bring a new dynamic to American foreign policy by virtue of her extensive experience – but always within the framework of her countrys steadfast strategic interests. Mrs. Bakoyannis added that she looks forward to a fruitful cooperation with Mrs. Clinton and her associates for the mutual benefit of both their countries.

In regards to a question on the *quot;exacerbation of Turkish provocations in the Aegean*quot; and whether Greece was considering a policy change regarding neighboring Turkey, Bakoyannis stressed that Greece has a long-term strategy on Greek-Turkish relations.

The developments in 2008 did not help in achieving speedier and more effective steps in improving the relations between the two countries, she said, adding that the Turkish provocativeness was not a new phenomenon, nor have there been periods in which that behavior was more limited.

Turkish provocations have existed in the last decades and continue to exist, and this was being confronted by Greece with a steadfast, calm and serious policy; in a structured and effective way, and with clear-cut positions and strong arguments, thus fully safeguarding Greeces national interests, she said.

Mrs. Bakoyannis stressed that she did not believe that Greeces policy, which was founded on a structured and long-term strategy, should change with respect to Turkey. *quot;Greece continues to be vigilant, and brings Turkeys provocative attitude to the attention of its friends and allies on every occasion.*quot;

Turning to the FYROM name dispute, Mrs. Bakoyannis stressed that Greece remained firmly and constructively committed to the UN-brokered negotiation process on the issue, despite the delay tactics employed by the neighboring countrys Government. *quot;Greeces positions have been and continue to be crystal clear*quot;, she said.

At the same time, one should not forget that Greeces positions are also the position of the NATO Alliance – both in the framework of the European Union and of NATO – the Foreign Minister went on to say.

Mrs. Bakoyannis further expressed genuine regret over the results arising from FYROMs stance. She said that those in power in FYROM are single-handedly raising obstacles to the fulfillment of their own peoples European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, knowing full well that a resolution of the ongoing name dispute is a precondition for FYROMs accession to the Atlantic Alliance and for its path towards the European Union. Greece, she added, hopes that FYROM will abandon its outdated tactics, which are reminiscent of *quot;a bad Balkan past*quot;.

As for the economic situation, Mrs. Bakoyannis noted that for the past year and a half the world was facing the largest post-war financial crisis.

In this difficult juncture, the Greek government was literally exhausting all margins to widen and reinforce the social protection network provided by the state, she said, opining that, in light of the severest credit crisis in recent years, there was no room for petty party politics and populist attitudes.

Everyone, she stressed, was obliged, with their actions and stance, to back the government in the difficult task it has undertaken of bringing the country out of the crisis with a structured plan and strategy.