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Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Yes, there were more bilaterals last night after which she hosted the Transatlantic dinner. The snip below is from a briefing last night by a senior official providing  background.

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Readout of the Secretary’s Meetings With Belgian Foreign Minister Reynders, Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Hague, and the Transatlantic Dinner

Special Briefing

Senior Administration Official
Waldorf Astoria Hotel
New York City
September 25, 2012
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and again, sorry that this evening has gone on so long, but we thought it would be worthwhile to provide you a readout on background from our Senior Administration Official. For your records, that is actually [Senior Administration Official]. We will do a brief readout of the dinner that just took place, the Transatlantic Dinner with our NATO and European partners, and then have time to take some of your questions.

So with that, let me just turn it over to our Senior Administration Official.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, and thanks to everyone for waiting up so late. Apologies it’s so late, but the dinner went on for some time. I’ll get to the Transatlantic Dinner. Maybe I can just start with the other Transatlantic engagements, European engagements the Secretary’s had since she arrived on Sunday.

This actually began with her bilat with European Union High Representative for Foreign Policy Cathy Ashton on Sunday evening. And just briefly on that, she – the Secretary spent a good hour with High Representative Ashton covering a wide range of issues starting with Iran. The High Representative is leading the negotiations, recently had some talks in Istanbul with the Iranians, was able to report on those talks, and I think both of them concluded that there’s still time and space for diplomacy, and that effort needs to go on as we pursue both tracks – the pressure track – and I think we’ve heard from a number of Europeans in the course of the week that they’re looking for ways to increase the pressure track even as High Representative Ashton leads the way on negotiations on the diplomatic track. And we’re very serious about both tracks at the same time.

They talked about Burma, obviously, with Aung San Suu Kyi recently being in Washington and the EU having its own engagements with her, and talked about how the U.S. and the EU can coordinate on supporting democratic reforms in Burma. And then they actually spent a considerable time – amount of time on democratic reforms closer to home, which is to say across Eastern Europe. As the Secretary and High Representative were meeting, we were getting election results from Belarus – not that there was much question about how those elections would come out – and unfortunately they came out as expected, which is to say reflecting an unlevel playing field. And Secretary Clinton and High Representative Ashton talked about how we together in the U.S. and Europe can keep the pressure on Belarus and make clear that so long as there are political prisoners and so long as elections are repeatedly falling well short of international standards, then Belarus is not going to be able to have the relationship with Europe and the United States that it needs.

They also talked about upcoming elections in Ukraine, and I think it’s fair to say that we – the United States and Europe are working extraordinarily closely together when it comes to pressing for and supporting free and fair elections that are going to take place on October 28th. Ukraine is hugely important to European security and stability. We have been very clear how much we regret what we see as selective prosecutions, including the imprisonment of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko. And Secretary Clinton, High Rep Ashton agreed the U.S. and the European Union really have the same policy, which is to say that our relations with Ukraine can only really move forward when we see an end of those selective prosecutions and free and fair elections. And they talked about how we can use the time between now and October 28th to support those goals.

There are also upcoming elections in Georgia on October 1st, and once again, I think the two of them agreed how important it was for us collectively to make clear to Georgia how important it is to have a fair and transparent and competitive campaign environment. The most important thing Georgia can do for its future is to consolidate its democracy. We have respectively raised concerns about different issues on the road to those elections, and we’ve been appreciative that the Georgian Government has heard those concerns, and in most cases, taken measures to make sure that the elections that we are going to be very active in monitoring will indeed be free and fair.

And then finally, Secretary Clinton and High Rep Ashton talked about the Balkans. Catherine Ashton is leading an effort to promote the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. Together, we support the path to the European Union of both of those countries. We think Serbia needs to come to term with an independent Kosovo in order to move forward along that path. And it’s something the United States and European Union are working very much hand in hand on to consolidate the Balkans as part of a unified Europe.

And then this evening, the Secretary, prior to the Transatlantic Dinner, had the opportunity to meet with a number of foreign ministers, including, in particular, several whom she hadn’t had formal bilats with who are new since certainly the last General Assembly, which includes the Greek Foreign Minister, Mr. Avramopoulos; the Belgian Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders; and the very new Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide. And the Secretary also met with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Just very briefly with Greek Foreign Minister Avramopoulos, of course, they focused considerably on the Greek economy, and the Secretary expressed our understanding and appreciation for the great sacrifices that the Greek people are making in the reforms that have been deemed necessary to keep Greece in the Eurozone and to turn around its economy. We know how difficult those reforms are, but it’s a core American interest to see the Eurozone not just survive but thrive, and that entails also supporting Greece. And she was able to hear from the Foreign Minister the difficult budgetary cuts and tax increases and structural changes they’re making, but we were impressed with the seriousness of the effort, and I think it was useful for the Secretary to hear about the important reforms that Greece has undertaken, and for Foreign Minister Avramopoulos to hear how strongly the United States supports what Greece is doing.

With Foreign Minister Reynders of Belgium, she – Secretary Clinton thanked him for Belgium’s strong cooperation with the United States on a number of areas, including Afghanistan, where they’ve been very much involved and are – have agreed to help support Afghan National Security Forces after 2014; our cooperation on Syria and Iran, where again Belgium is a core member of the Transatlantic community, is cooperating closely with us. And they also talked about a couple of areas of particular interest not just to us, but to Belgium, which is to say Central Africa, the Congo, and the Sahel where the Belgium Foreign Minister explained what Belgium is doing to try to promote stability in those regions.

Seeing the new Norwegian Foreign Minister Barth Eide was a good opportunity for the Secretary, who had worked very closely with his predecessor, Jonas Store. She congratulated the new Foreign Minister and noted that the United States and Norway are extraordinarily close partners who work very well together. The Secretary, of course, traveled to Norway last summer, and it was a good chance for her to touch base with the brand new Foreign Minister and talk about a number of areas of common interest.

Finally, she did a bilat with Foreign Secretary Hague, mostly focused on Syria, where it was a good chance for the two of them, who have both recently seen Special Representative Brahimi, to coordinate policy on Syria. They also touched on Afghanistan and the challenge of dealing with some of these so-called green-on-blue attacks.

A lot of these themes that I’ve already mentioned, these bilats were also the subject of the Transatlantic Dinner, and I’ll end with a readout of that, which I guess went on for almost two hours. The Transatlantic Dinner, as you all know, is something we do every year at the General Assembly, meeting of European Union foreign ministers, NATO foreign ministers, as well as Macedonia and Switzerland, plus the NATO Secretary General and the High Representative of the EU. And it’s an opportunity to talk about a number of issues on the agenda of European and North Atlantic countries. They can obviously not cover everything; they cover a number of things, but I think particularly worth highlighting would be three topics – Syria, Afghanistan, and Europe and this question of democracy in Europe that I already flagged as being one of the subjects of the bilats.

And I think what is really worth stressing when I mention these topics of Syria, Afghanistan, and democracy in Europe is how much on the same page these members of the transatlantic community are. Members of the EU and NATO are really working in an unprecedented way on each of the topics I mentioned.

Again, just briefly on Syria, there was really a consensus around the table behind the approach that I know you’ve heard about that we’ve been taking in terms of supporting the opposition and trying to coordinate the opposition so that when the Assad regime does fall, as we believe it will, there will be something in place that can provide stability, efforts to respond to the huge humanitarian crisis; of course, Turkey is present at this meeting, was able to speak about the challenges they’re facing with refugees and preparing for a post-Assad Syria and keeping the pressure on the regime.

On Afghanistan, as in previous years, the Secretary was able to thank our European allies and partners for all the contributions they have made to our efforts in Afghanistan. This was the first meeting of this group since the Chicago Summit where important decisions were made on the milestone towards Afghan lead in 2013, and then the full transition by the end of 2014. And to follow up on some of the pledges made, our belief, as you know, is that the key to transition and successful transition in Afghanistan is training, and that requires trainers and it requires funding. And we were very pleased at all of the contributions made by European and other allies in Chicago towards ANSF funding after 2014. And the Secretary reiterated the importance of continuing to finance that project and to contribute the security force assistance teams that are needed to make this a success.

I think it’s worth stressing the Secretary made clear, and I think others around the table also made very clear, that notwithstanding some adjustments to the approach in Afghanistan to deal with these so-called insider attacks, the goal and the strategy and the timeline in Afghanistan remain absolutely unchanged. And Secretary General Rasmussen made that perfectly clear as well. What leaders agreed first in Lisbon and then complemented in Chicago is very clear and has not changed, and again, I can – I think I can say that every single minister on the table who spoke about it reiterated their commitment to the same goal, strategy, and timeline, and their commitment to doing what they can to support those goals.

Finally, and I think it’s really worth stressing, the discussion on democracy in Europe was important. This group gets together, and the world in which we live so often finds itself talking about Libya or Syria or Iran or Afghanistan, but there’s still some concerns in Europe to this group. And the Secretary herself highlighted her personal concerns about some of the upcoming elections that I already mentioned – Ukraine and Georgia, the highly imperfect election that took place in Belarus, and also the climate for democracy and human rights in Russia. And the Secretary noted a number of steps taken recently in Russia that aren’t pointing in the right direction where transparency and democracy are concerned.

And we’ve already raised in other fora our concerns about the new NGO law that requires registration of foreign agents, the increased fines for protests, some selective cases of prosecution, and now most recently, a new draft law on treason which would widen the definition of treason, and then of course the Russian decision to ask our USAID Office to cease its activities in Russia. And the Secretary reiterated our regret of that decision and our belief that USAID has accomplished a lot in Russia, and our commitment to carry on as we can in supporting those in Russia who want to see a free and fair and democratic Russia.

So that’s really the highlights, I think, of the Transatlantic Dinner and the bilat….

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Remarks With Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis Before Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
October 27, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure to welcome the foreign minister of Greece here today. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with him and had now several occasions, including in Athens, to meet and discuss not only our bilateral relationship, which continues strong and very consequential to us both, but also regional and international matters, and of course, the international economic challenges that Greece, along with the rest of the world, is facing.Tomorrow marks the 71st anniversary of Oxi Day, when Greeks celebrate the freedom and courage of the Greek people. And today, Greece is being asked to summon its courage again. This time, the challenge is economic. The Greek people are making major changes and big sacrifices to return their country to financial health and economic competitiveness. And while those changes and sacrifices are certainly painful, they are necessary. And in the long run, they will benefit Greece and its partners, but most particularly the children and future generations of Greek citizens.

The United States applauds Greece’s commitment to fiscal and structural reform. Decisive and bold actions in the EU are also critical to resolving the European economic crisis, and Greece’s debt crisis in particular. Early this morning in Brussels, European leaders made vital decisions to address the significant and pressing economic challenges they face.

Greece is a longstanding and important ally of the United States. In ways large and small, life in our country is enriched by the energy and contributions of our many Greek Americans. And abroad, Greece and the United States share common goals for stability and prosperity in Southeastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The United States looks forward to broadening, deepening, and strengthening this already very vital relationship.

Stavros, thank you so much for being here.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAMBRINIDIS: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, Hillary. It’s a great pleasure to be here. Let me begin by wishing you a happy birthday, which now, since I know how many years before me you were at Yale Law School, I can also guess your age, I guess, but I will not tell anyone.

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is really unkind. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER LAMBRINIDIS: That’s really – I’m sorry. No, it’s a good age. It’s a good age.

Now, this is a wonderful occasion for me to be here and for me to have a chance to talk to the Secretary of State of the U.S. on a number of very important issues in – for our bilateral relations, but also for Europe. Yesterday, a new leaf was turned in Europe, and I think a number of very hopeful days are ahead of us, both for Greece and for Europe and for the United States, as indeed our economies and our fates, in many ways in this world, are tied together. And I think it is imperative of me to underline the extremely important and helpful role that the U.S. has played, and Hillary Clinton in particular, throughout these difficult months.

It is often said that friendships get tried during difficult times. And since these are indeed the Oxi Days, as you mentioned, Greece and the United States do know of difficulties. We have been together and stood by each other during difficult wars, and we are standing by each other today as well. I think that we will have a wonderful opportunity to discuss issues in our neighborhood and in our region that concern us both deeply, in which Greece has a very active involvement and a great desire to be able itself, through the EU, and with the U.S. to bring peace and stability that we all need.

So thank you very much for this opportunity to see you again after only a few months. When you came to Greece the first time that you came, I told you you were the first foreign visitor who came. And I wished that you would bring me luck. I can say that up to now, things have gone well for my country. The difficulties are there. As you mentioned, the Greek people are making a tremendous amount of sacrifices. I am grateful that (inaudible) will have the opportunity to recognize them. We know we have tough days ahead of us. We are changing our country, and Europe is indicating that it doesn’t only have the ability but also the will to stand by us and to stand by the European Union project.

Thank you.

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This is a few days old, but it was just released.

Interview With Alexis Papahelas of SKAI TV

Interview

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ambassador’s Residence
Athens, Greece
July 17, 2011

QUESTION: Well, Madam Secretary, it is a pleasure to see you in Athens.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. Let me ask you, first of all, what is the main message that you carry with you?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It is a message of support and solidarity with the Greek Government, and most importantly, the Greek people, as you go through this very difficult period. We think what has already been done is important. But we know more also has to occur, with privatization and tax reform. But I want people in Greece to understand that we recognize the difficulty of these decisions, we know that there will be painful sacrifices, but we are absolutely confident that Greece will emerge from them even stronger.

And the future for Greece is so filled with potential, because of your strategic location in a part of the world that is changing so rapidly, that I came with a message of real hope that this can be done, and done in a way that will strengthen Greece, and for years to come.

QUESTION: Now, I know that you like talking to the average person on the street. The last time, before your visit with consulate, I was (inaudible), so you could talk about (inaudible). There are a lot of angry people here in Greece. They are angry at the market, they are angry at the rating agencies, they are angry at their politicians. If you had the chance to meet with one of them, what would you say to them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well that I understand the anger and the deep concern that the global economy has presented to all of us. We have angry people in my own country right now. And I am a very sympathetic person to what people are going through.

But you cannot deny the reality of what must be done. I used the analogy this morning with the foreign minister. If you are given a diagnosis of cancer, you could be angry or you could seek treatment. And sometimes the treatment makes you sick before it makes you well. And radiation, chemo, those are terrible things for the body to go through. But what we have learned is that, if you are willing to do that, very often in today’s modern world with modern medicine, you can be cured.

Well, what we know now about the global economy is that we cannot escape from it, and it is a hard task master. So the kinds of physical disciplinary policies that the current government is pushing are a necessary medicine. Does anybody like it? Of course not. But there is no alternative. Because Greece is an essential part of Europe. It has benefitted from its membership in the European Union and the euro. And now there are steps that must be taken.

But it is not only for the government to take them. I have been talking with government officials, but I also have, as you know, many Greek-American friends. And it is clear that there are steps that individuals have to take, as well. But it will be in the best interest not only of the nation, but of the people, if this pathway that has been laid out can be followed now.

QUESTION: Well, as you know, there has been a lot of (inaudible) depends on what kind of measures to be taken, and so on. Of course you have the same problem with (inaudible). Do you think that (inaudible), and do you think it’s actually compatible, to have a working (inaudible) and also to be able to (inaudible) compete with China, and India, and everybody else?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I mean here we are, in the birthplace of democracy, and there is, in my opinion, no doubt that functioning democracies with transparent governments, with the consent of the governed, with the kind of responsible decision-making that Greece is exhibiting now, are, for the long run, in much stronger positions, not only economically, but also where we all live and feel, and our individuals rights and freedoms. There are other systems in the world. But no one that I know of would want to change places to take up where others are, because you would sacrifice so much.

So, yes. Are we testing democracies today? Are we testing political leadership, and whether or not people actually want to solve the problems or just exacerbate it for their own personal and party-political gains? That is, unfortunately, all too common across the world in our democracies. But it is, by far, the best system. Winston Churchill’s famous old saying is, “The worst system that has ever been devised, except for all the others.”

Well, as hard as it is to get people in a room, to make the compromise, to decide on a consensus, it is the best approach. And what the government here did in getting the votes necessary to move forward was a great tribute to the Greek political system. And I am very admiring of how hard that was, because I am, as you know, a recovering politician. I spent a lot of my time in the political trenches. So I know how difficult it is.

But this is what leaders are for. These are the historic moments that test whether one is a leader or just a politician. And we see leadership from the prime minister here, leadership from our President back home, leadership in those who are stepping up and accepting responsibility. It is not of the current generation’s making; they inherited a lot of this. But it is up to them to resolve it. And I don’t think there is any better alternative.

QUESTION: I know you (inaudible). And I wonder, can the Greek people expect anything (inaudible) assistance from the U.S. Or perhaps investments, once the systemic risk is over and the country is stabilized? Do you see any of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, of course. And because the United States is the single largest contributor to the IMF, the IMF assistance that is coming to Greece is very much a part of America’s commitment.

But we also — and I have been trying to send this message — want to see more American businesses invest in Greece. We think there are great opportunities. It is not only the beauty and the tourism, the hospitality industries that can benefit. But I think Greece is well poised in clean, renewable energy. Some countries are going to capture this market. They are going to be market centered, as leaders. Greece can do that. And I think there are investments that Americans would be interested in.

I also think that as you have reformed your business sector with more transparency, more contract enforcement, making it possible for businesses to feel as though they are on a level playing field with Greek and other businesses, I think that will be very attractive to American business.

So, both from the public side, with our commitment to the IMF, and on the private sector side, we think there is opportunity here, and we want to be part of making that happen.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) There are various reports about the large reserves of natural gas or even oil (inaudible). Do you give any credence to those? (Inaudible) business community?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. And they aren’t yet well documented, but I think that exploration is beginning, and we encourage that. There are also ways that Greece can become a hub for conventional energy with oil and gas and pipelines that would be transacting or transecting Greece.

So, yes, and we have encouraged American companies to look at this. We know about the big gas finds off of Israel and Lebanon. And it seems that Mother Nature has her way, and it may take a long time, but all of the development of gas and oil fields that we are discovering around the world, it seems like there are very geographic limits to them.

QUESTION: Well, our whole area is changing (inaudible) what is happening in Syria, and what is happening in Libya, and so on. Has this changed your political view of Greece, or Greek relations with Turkey, or Greek relations with Israel? How do you see this whole (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you are right, that this has been a time of very rapid change in the Middle East and north Africa. And if you just look at the map, and where Greece is situated, its strategic advantage is apparent. There is work to be done, work to ensure that you continue the efforts to try to resolve Greek-Turkish problems, that there be the continuing efforts on the unfinished business of the western Balkans, that we all work to try to support the transitions going on in Egypt, in Libya, Tunisia.

But I don’t think there is any doubt that with Greece’s strong strategic location, coupled with your historic relations with these countries in the Mediterranean, that there is a great opportunity here for Greece, which is why, as we were discussing with the ministers with whom I met, if you think about the industries of the future — and energy will certainly continue to be one — how Greece positions itself on renewables, on clean energy, and on traditional sources of energy, will be a major impact on what will happen in the region.

So, yes. I think that Greece is very well positioned, and that is why I hope that, as the Greek people go through this economic crisis, you don’t lose sight of what is over the horizon. Because getting through this crisis, making the reforms that are necessary, will really strengthen you.

Other countries have gone through these kinds of changes. I think of South Korea, which is now, I think, the 12th largest economy, it is a member of the G-20, it is absolutely on very strong economic footing and exercising influence around the world. Brazil went through IMF restructuring. If you could look around the world, you could see there is a direct line from taking the medicine, making a hard decision, and the kind of pay-off, economically, that other countries are enjoying.

QUESTION: Coming from Turkey — you were there for two days —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

QUESTION: Do you see any potential for sort of real progress in Greek-Turkish relations, or do you think these are not compatible (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I do. I don’t think that the diplomatic efforts should be shelved during the economic crisis. I think you need to be proceeding on both tracks. And I really believe that there is an opening here.

I know that Prime Minister Papandreou has already met with and visited with Prime Minister Erdogan and the Turkish leaders. And I encouraged him to continue that, even though I know that he has to put the economic challenge first and foremost, because I think that helps Greece. I think in the medium-term, not just the long-term, working to resolve Greek-Turkish tensions and a lot of the leftover issues from the past, clears the path for Greece to play that strategic leadership role in the region that I think you can.

QUESTION: Well, finally, let me ask you — as you know, there is another issue, the famous issue (inaudible). And now, you have been talk to the (inaudible) Skopje. Do you see any sense of having progress there, or —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have made it very clear that we support the negotiations that have gone on between Skopje and Athens. We think that there is an opportunity here. And the government in Skopje needs to know that it will not be able to move forward on its European integration until it does resolve this. And, obviously, Greece has to be willing to accept how the name is resolved.

So, we have encouraged as strongly as we can that this matter be finally taken care of. Whether that will happen or not, we will have to wait and see.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) a lot of (inaudible). Are you really concerned about (inaudible) in the next few months?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it matters, what Greece does now. I think half of the package that was required has been passed. It is beginning to be implemented. But the other half has not yet been carried through. And if you look at it, the need for tax reform, a broader tax base, ending special favors, trying to make sure that Greece has the resources that it needs, that is a very important piece of it. And I know it is hard, but it has to be done.

So, I think that a fair assessment would be Greece has come a long way, but is not yet where it needs to be, in order to reassure the markets, to avoid the kind of economic disaster that could occur, and to reassure your own citizens that you are on a path that will pay off for them. Because, ultimately, that is what people have to believe.

And there will always be opposition, there will always be naysayers. You cannot please everybody in a democracy; everyone knows that. But you have to make the case that what you are doing is not to satisfy some bond holder or satisfy some European government, or the IMF. You are doing what you must do in order to secure the future of Greece, and the next generation of young Greeks. And I don’t think there is any doubt that you can do that. I have absolute confidence that you can. But it is not going to be easy, and everybody just needs to take a deep breath here and begin to do everything you can — not just in the government, but in the citizenry — to move this along, and try to make the tough decisions that are necessary.

QUESTION: And so that will be your message to (inaudible) when you see him.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it will be. It is my message to everyone, my public and my private message.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Appreciate it. (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. My pleasure.

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Public Schedule for July 18, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
July 18, 2011

 


SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in Athens, Greece. She is accompanied by Under Secretary Hormats, Assistant Secretary Gordon, Ambassador Morningstar and Director Sullivan. Click here for more information (ET + 7 hours).

10:00 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with opposition leader Antonis Samaras, in Athens, Greece.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

10:40 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Athens, in Athens, Greece.
(POOLED PRESS COVERAGE)

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to US Embassy employees in Athens, on July 18, 2011. Clinton also met Papandreou, Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on July 17. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Meeting With Staff and Families of Embassy Athens

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Westin Athens
Athens, Greece
July 18, 2011

 


Good morning, everyone. I am so pleased to see you, and what a setting for our time together. I apologize for keeping you waiting. Dan was making me work till the very last second. (Laughter.)

But it is for me a great personal pleasure to be back in Greece and to have this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, American and Greek alike, for everything you’re doing on behalf of this critical relationship, and especially now as we try to support the Greek Government and the Greek people through this very difficult economic period.

I’ve tried to get to Greece as Secretary of State four times. The first time, I was really excited about coming and I broke my elbow. (Laughter.) And the next two times, we rearranged schedules because of other crises in the world. Then I finally said, “I am going to Greece no matter what.” And this has been an extremely important trip as well as a delight to go to the Acropolis Museum, to sign the important memorandum between our governments to protect the heritage and treasures of Greece’s storied past, and to have serious conversations with many decision-makers of Greece about the difficult economic way forward.

It is a great pleasure too for me to be here with Ambassador Smith and Diane. Dan and Diane are exemplary examples of the Foreign Service in action and the work that they do. As Dan said, I worked very closely with them from the transition to my position as Secretary of State, and then for the first year and a half, I saw him every morning at 8:45 and he always looked good, which I found to be – (laughter) – especially unfortunate. (Laughter.) He clearly has made a commitment to serving our country, and I know what capable hands you are in here in our Embassy.

I think that coming at this time actually turned out to be very good timing because of the need to demonstrate our solidarity and support for the difficult, painful times that Greece is experiencing. And I know that you are the daily face of that relationship. All of the interactions that you have are a manifestation of our long, enduring friendship, partnership, and alliance. And I also know you care for American citizens, whom I saw in great numbers on the streets in Athens and in the museum. It was wonderful for me to see Americans from all over our country of all ages just taking in the beauty of this extraordinary country and respecting and understanding more about what it means, and all the many contributions that Greece has made to our own democracy and values.

I also am very much aware of everything you’ve done in addition to your daily jobs. You helped with the evacuation of Americans from Egypt during the upheaval in that country, and you staffed the airport, you handed out water, diapers, clothing, whatever people needed. You cared for stranded Peace Corps volunteers who hadn’t slept or eaten in days, and a group of tourists with the wonderful nickname “Grannies On Safari.” (Laughter.) So just a few of the ways that you have helped in making sure that Americans anywhere in the world are going to have a friendly face and a helping hand.

I know Dr. Jill Biden was just here a few weeks ago to celebrate the Special Olympics. And we are very grateful to everyone on Team Athens, particularly thanks to John Cockrell, for making this trip such a success. I also want to thank your family members because everyone is part of this team, and your service to this mission could not be possible without the strong support of those who are behind you here in Greece and back home.

And I especially want to thank our terrific Greek employees. I often say that secretaries come and go, even ambassadors come and go, and DCMs and political officers and economic officers and PAOs and everybody else comes and goes except our Greek employees. Some of you have been with this Embassy for a very long time. You are absolutely essential to our operation, you bring valuable knowledge and expertise, and this Embassy, like all of our embassies, simply could not work without you.

So thanks so much for what you’re doing. I know that these are hard times, but I have a lot of confidence in the resilience of the Greek people, and I believe that you will be able to go through this period of challenge and sacrifice and come out even stronger. It will require unity and solidarity, but it’s something that I fully believe will happen. So just know that the United States, and particularly this Administration and myself personally, are going to stand with you the whole way. We’ll do everything we can to be supportive as you make these tough decisions.

Let me now just shake a few hands and thank you personally, but I so appreciate everything you’ve done and everything you do every single day on behalf of the Greek-American relationship. Thank you all. (Applause.)

 

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Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Lambrinidis At Signing Ceremony for Cultural Memorandum of Understanding

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Acropolis Museum
Athens, Greece
July 17, 2011


FOREIGN MINISTER LAMBRINIDIS: (Via interpreter.) So ladies and gentlemen, right behind us you can see one of the most important monuments, treasures, of civilization, the Parthenon of the – belonging to the Acropolis. And here we are standing at the Parthenon Museum, which is a modern work of architecture where we can admire the treasure.

We have built this museum not only to protect these monuments from time but also to emphasize the unity of the archeological site, so that there is a direct vision between the museum – from the museum to the Acropolis.

So this is part of the heritage which belongs to the Greek people, but it is a great part of the world heritage as well, the most important part of world heritage. And it is with this – these treasures and many other treasures, Byzantine and others, that Greece is covered all over. They need to be protected in the best possible manner.

So this I can tell you, dear Hillary, that today we are trying to protect our treasures from illegal diggings and excavations. This – and that is why this MOU that we’re about to sign is so important. It will stop the marketing and – illegal marketing and sale, and in this manner we are collaborating to protect the treasures of civilization to the benefit of our people.

And before I conclude, I would like to thank Minister of Culture Pavlos Geroulanos and his collaborators at the Ministry of Culture, who have worked very hard in a very committed manner in order to make this MOU a reality.

(In English.) Dear Hillary, it is my strong wish, my strong hope, that millions of citizens of the Greek country have the opportunity that we are having today to visit Greece and to enjoy this. And as you mentioned in your speech during our foreign ministry meeting, that we don’t simply policies but also values, values born here, let me be so bold as to say, Hillary Clinton, welcome home to Greece.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much, Minister Lambrinidis and Minister Geroulanos. And Professor, thank you so much, and all of your colleagues for making this moment possible during our visit to this beautiful city.

It is a great honor for me to be representing the United States, a friend, ally, and partner to Greece, and also to be exemplifying the very warm relations between the American and Greek people.

Millions of visitors have already had the experience of walking through this magnificent museum here in the shadow of the Acropolis and experiencing firsthand the extraordinary gifts that Greece has given over its long history to Western civilization in which my country as well is in your debt.

This agreement that we are signing today will protect Greece’s culturally significant objects even further from looting and sale on the international market. It will be illegal to import protected items from Greece into the United States unless they have been certified by the Greek authorities. And that will help reduce the incentive to illegally remove such objects in the first place.

We know from experience that measures like this work. This will be our 15th cultural property agreement. And in countries from Cambodia to Cyprus, we have seen real results. These agreements build on America’s long-term commitment to cultural preservation. Forty years ago, the United States was the first nation in the world to ratify the World Heritage Convention, and it remains a priority for our government and for me personally.

Let me just conclude by saying that America is just as committed to Greece’s future as we are to preserving your past. During these difficult economic times, we will stand with you. We are confident that the nation that built the Parthenon, invented democracy, and inspired the world can rise to the current challenge.

So thank you all, ministers and others who worked with you to achieve this important agreement. And I now look forward to signing on behalf of the United States. (Applause.)

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Remarks At Meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Mansion
Athens, Greece
July 17, 2011

 


 

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for the warm welcome, and I am here to reaffirm our strong bonds of friendship, partnership. And as our fellow allies in NATO we have long roots, but what is most important is the relationship between the American and Greek people, and of course, our very strong, dynamic, Greek-American community in the United States which has so greatly enriched both of our nations. And I share your optimism that despite the difficult times and the very hard decisions that have had to be made, Greece is now on a path that will be very positive in terms of future growth and prosperity. There will be some painful sacrifices necessary, but I have full optimism in the resilience and the intelligence of the Greek people, and so I am here to sound a very strong note for all of the difficult work that lies ahead.

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