An Interview with Barack Obamas associate Alexi Giannoulias

Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic Illinois State Treasurer, head of the Greek Americans For Obama Committee and a close associate of the U.S. President-elect Barack Obama gave an interview to the Sunday edition of the Athens Newspaper Eleftheros Typos. It was published on Sunday, 9 November 2008.

Q: Whats the message of the U.S. elections?

The electoral victory of my friend, Senator Barack Obama, is of great importance not only for America but for the whole world. As he himself had said in the Democratic Convention of 2004, in Boston, people were coming to America because it was a magic place. Everybody was seeing hope in America. Unfortunately, America was diverged from the route of hope lately. But, now, the american people have woke up and realized that we must take the right route again.

Q: Did you have the opportunity to meet him during the election day?

Of course! I was with him until the end of the day. Indeed, we were playing basketball together during midday, while people were voting. We had played in Iowa and he won (the caucus elections). We didnt play basketball in New Hampshire and we lost. After New Hampshire we played every day and since then we didnt lose an election.

Q: What was he saying during the game on the election day?

He was very calm. On the contrary, I was anxious and nervous. He was laughing, he was among friends feeling comfortably. That man is always gentle. He faces everything with absolute collectedness.

Q: What do you believe was the source of his collectedness?

Obama believes in America and trusts the american people. All newspapers were writing about the possibility of a Bradley effect, but Barack was sure that the majority of the Americans wanted that Change. He was feeling that the racial factor wouldnt have a role in the elections.

Q: Do you believe that he will persist in his pre-election positions regarding Greeces national issues or he will follow his predecessors example?

I dont believe that he will be like president Carter. I think that Barack and Biden understand our issues better. Even better than Clinton. Barack Obama sees the international community and international relations differently from Bush and McCain. I think that all these are important. In the Policy Paper they stated that the Cyprus Issue is a matter of international legitimacy. As for the Macedonian Question, you punish Greece – which was always an ally of yours – in favour of Skopjans, just because they sent 80 troops in Iraq? (reference to the Bush Policy). Barack Obama will not make such mistakes.

Q: How important was the contribution of the Greek Diaspora in Obamas victory?

Im very proud for our Diaspora. Of course, there will always be Greeks supporting either the Democrats or the Republicans. There were people from the Greek Diaspora who supported Barack from the very start; Papanikolaou, Mougiaris, Zambas, Athens, Christopher and many others. They saw Obamas potential to win, as well as that he will be better for our issues. But there is also a new generation of people, who couldnt sign checks, but they went out to work (for the campaign). They worked in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, Ohio. And if someone will see what has been done in every state, he will therefore understand the role of Greek Americans in Obamas victory.

Q: Is Barack Obama aware of that, Mr.Giannoulias?

Of course he knows. His close collaborators know that too, as well as his campaign team.

Q: I discern an especial sensitivity regarding the so-called Macedonian Question…

Since I was a little child, from my parents, I know that Macedonia is the fatherland of Alexander the Great. And while we are proud for our history, we cannot close our eyes and ears when somebody tries to change it. We cannot stay with our hands crossed and allow Skopje to steal our history.

Q: What do you admire in Barack Obama?

He is a very clever man. He graduated with an A average from Harvards Law School. Being such a clever person Barack Obama could do many things. He could earn a lot of money. He decided to devote his life to public issues. That counts a lot. Barack did not get involve with politics just to become somebody; he could have an easier life. A few years ago, he and his family were living in a very small apartment.

Barack Obama cares for peoples problems. And when he said, during his speech in Boston in 2004, I am my brothers keeper! I am my sisters keeper!, he really meant it. He is totally dedicated to fellow beings and especially to those who suffer.

Q: A message for our readers?

The election of Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidency is a good start, not only for America, but for the whole world. We have a lot of work ahead and we have to be ready. The solution to the big problems which America and the world face is Barack Obama.

(Translation: Nikolaos L. Mottas)