20 May, 2004
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF GREECE KONSTANDINOS KARAMANLIS
SUBJECT: HIS WASHINGTON MEETINGS
LOCATION: RITZ CARLTON HOTEL, WASHINGTON, D.C.
TIME: 5:20 P.M. EDT
DATE: THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2004
Question: Prime minister, thank you very much. Would you mind just briefly summarizing who you met with today in addition to President Bush, and what sorts of things they asked you about preparations and security for the Olympic Games?
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: I met with Vice President Cheney, with the secretary of State, Mr. Powell, with the national security adviser, Ms. Rice, and with a number of leaders of Congress, both at the Senate -- Senator Lugar, Senator Biden, Senator Sarbanes, Senator Sununu -- I may miss some names now -- and a number of congressmen, among others, the Chairman of the relevant committee, Hyde, Congressman Lantos and others. So we discussed a series of subjects, mainly the ones which I already mentioned to your Greek colleagues -- that is Olympic Games, Southeastern Europe, bilateral relations, cyber-security, et cetera, and I had the opportunity and the pleasure to give them specific information as far as our strenuous and tremendous effort is concerned regarding the security of the OLYMPIC Games. And I believe I gave them satisfactory answers to the points raised.
Question: Thank you very much. Ten thousand athletes, 20,000 journalists, 70,000 security officers. At what point do the Olympic Games become too big, and what advice would you give to the countries that are bidding now for the 2012 games about the size of this, the efforts that it takes to put on the games?
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: Well, let me tell you something. We live in a world which unfortunately has to take into consideration new challenges, and to this extent any responsible government has to rise to the challenge. And that we have been doing I think with a full sense of responsibility. We deem it as our responsibility, but also the responsibility of the international community, our allies, our friends, our partners, to ensure good and safe games.
Now, if your question implies that whether we are still willing and warm and happy to have OLYMPIC Games, I would say yes we do, because we believe the OLYMPIC Games is a major opportunity for GREECE to send a message of its image of modern GREECE, the opportunities it has. It's going to be a boost for GREECE in order to develop on the economic stage. It's going to be a boost for GREECE on the tourist level. And of course it's also a broader message that countries of medium size can -- are able to perform major events as is -- as are the OLYMPIC Games. Besides, I think also that GREECE, being the place of birth of the OLYMPIC Games, has the unique opportunity to send a message about the real spirit of the games and the do cultural moderation with truce, with friendship.
MODERATOR: Mr. Constantine.
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: That sounds very GREEK. (Laughter.)
Question: During the past decade it's been said that New Democracy and Pasok virtually converged into a centrist movement in GREECE. In view of that, your succeeding Pasok, what are the implications of future policies that New Democracy can bring that Pasok has not already undertaken?
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: Well. Let me tell you something. When I'm outside the country, I always avoid as a matter of principle to bring up questions which have to do with domestic politics. But since you give me this incentive, I might say that despite differences on tactical points, I consider it a major success of my country. But there is a broader sense of national consensus as far as the major questions of foreign policy are concerned. But I'm not saying that there is full agreement of that, no. But there aren't the differences of the past -- of the '70s, of the '80s. And I think this is a sign of maturity, and a sign to have everybody participating in that process commended about.
Now, that doesn't mean that we don't have our differences on many other levels -- the economy and others. But allow me to say that this is something for internal interests, and I wouldn't bring it up during an official visit in the U.S. or any foreign country.
MODERATOR: The lady from the Associated Press.
Question: Yes, I wonder if you could tell me your position in terms of the U.S. role in Iraq and the impeding takeover.
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: Well, my position on that -- my government's position on that is that we support the soon as possible transition, and every effort which leads to the democratization in Iraq and its reconstruction to which as I said before we actively participate.
MODERATOR: The gentleman from the Agence France Press.
Question: Mr. Prime Minister, you have been saying that efforts should continue for a CYPRUS settlement. Do you want a revision and renegotiation of the Annan plan? And what is your impression from the American side?
And, secondly, do you support TURKEY and EUB (ph) for TURKEY? Thank you.
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: Well, what I'm saying is that the basis for any new effort will be the Annan plan. Now, what points could be renegotiated is something that I would say the government of CYPRUS or the CYPRUS Republic has the first role to define. And I hope that we will soon see a new effort in that direction, leading to the reunification of the island.
Now, let me just add one point that has to do also with the TURKISH side and its possible willingness to negotiate. Let me say that if we don't have a solution, if we leave things as they are, this is my understanding lose-lose situation. If we get a solution and the island is reunified, we have a win-win situation. I strongly believe that Turk CYPRIOTs would also very much benefit from a resolution of the problem. And to this extent I think that there are incentives to renew our efforts on all side.
Question: Mr. Prime Minister, in your discussions with the president today, did you have a chance to discuss the issue of the name, the formal name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?
PRIME MIN. KARAMANLIS: We discussed the entire region, and I had the opportunity to inform the president of the United States that
GREECE is very actively informed in all efforts to reconstruct the area, and it is we are, GREECE is, the number one investor and trading partner with all these countries -- Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria.
Now, as far as the specific question you raise is concerned, as you know there is an ongoing process under the auspices of the United Nations. At this point there is no news I could share with you. We believe that there should be an effort to show good will from the side of FYROM as well. As you know, our bilateral relations are moving on very positive directions, both on an economic level but also on a political level. I would like to remind you that in the very recent past, when FYROM went through a serious crisis, internal crisis, they very much depended on our support.
So, yes, we have a very good relationship, but we need more flexibility on the part of FYROM to move in a positive direction, the question you mentioned. So at this point of time, no, there is no news. There are no developments in the foreseeable future. The process of negotiation under the auspices, under the umbrella of the United Nations, is going on.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for participating in this press conference.
Source: Press Office of the Embassy of Greece