The main head of news reports about the event at the White House for the Prime Minister, and indeed, the First Couple of Greece, could be the warm, almost family-like atmosphere that prevailed – both between the two couples and with the invited Greek-Americans.
It was obvious that there is a comfortable relationship between the Prime Minister of Greece and the President of the United States reminiscent of two good old friends. There were also warm words spoken by the First Lady of the United States about Greece, where she said she had visited “many times.”
It was clear that the President was particularly comfortable because he was in an environment with people he knew and who supported him throughout his political career.
The atmosphere was further warmed by the many references to what connects the two countries, to the enormous contributions of Ancient Greece to Western Civilization and to the mutual influence of the leaders of the great revolutions of their era, the United States and Greece.
However, the big news was the speech of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It was a historic speech at the White House, delivered in excellent English, in which Mitsotakis presented to the President, in front of the guests, the most important issues concerning Greece, starting with the Turkish aggression. He did not use the word ‘Turkey’ or the word ‘Erdogan’. But everyone understood what he was referring to.
For example, he said: “Neo imperial fantasies belong to other centuries. They must not succeed, and they must not succeed not only for the sake of Ukraine, but to send a very clear signal to other authoritarian leaders that any violation of sovereignty will be met by a unified and forceful response.”
And at another point he said: “Mr. President, you are extremely knowledgeable about the Cyprus issue and please use all your influence to put the negotiation process back on track, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. No one, no one can or will accept a two state solution in Cyprus.”
Perhaps the most important declaration in his speech was this: “Mr. President, we will continue to invest in our Armed Forces and make it very clear that we will not accept any violations of our sovereignty and our sovereign rights. And after all, we’re doing so, in order not just to strengthen Greece, but also in order to strengthen NATO’s southeastern flank.”
However, in his speech, President ‘Bidenopoulos’, as most say, or ‘Bidenakis’ – as the Prime Minister, who is from Crete, christened him – carefully avoided any reference to the problems created by Turkey, or to the most recent important issue that has arisen, that of the sales and upgrades of F-16 military jets.
We hope that President Biden will realize that kind words are nice, pleasant, flattering – but they are not enough, however. And they can create distance between him and the Greek-American Community.
He needs to demonstrate his respect and appreciation for Greece and the Community not with words, but in deeds.