Last week, Greece received Robert Menendez, the Democratic U.S. Senator from New Jersey who is the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with special honors.
In addition to his meetings with the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister – we found no evidence that he also met with Tsipras – the University of Athens (The National and Kapodistrian University) awarded him an Honorary Doctorate. As he well deserves.
We congratulate both the Senator and the Greek government for honoring possibly the most philhellenic senator since the time of the ardent philhellenic U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Daniel Webster (1782- 1852).
Robert Menendez, as he said in his acceptance speech for his doctorate, is a child of Cuban refugees who grew up with financial difficulties in New Jersey. In fact, as he said, his parents did not have $200 to give him to buy the books he needed for his studies.
This double experience of his, as a refugee and a poor child, seems to be the basis of his friendship with another refugee, the Cypriot patriot Tasos Zambas. Through that relationship, he became attached to Hellenism and made our issues his issues.
After the retirement of the two Greek-American senators – the late Paul Sarbanes and Olympia Snowe – Robert Menendez is Hellenism’s biggest ‘weapon’ in the U.S. Senate.
And this weapon is particularly powerful not only because of the position that Menendez holds, but also because his principles and our principles are the same, just as the principles, beliefs, and interests of the United States are common with the interests of Greece – at least in the field of foreign affairs.
This is why the Senator is fighting for the United States not to sell advanced technology weapons to Turkey and why he is fighting for Cyprus – that is also the basis for his opposition to any authoritarian regime, including Erdogan’s, Putin’s, Xi Jinping’s.
I repeat that this is not an opportunistic friendship, but a friendship based on strong foundations – principles and national interests.
And it’s a friendship that keeps growing.