26 February, 2009
Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis appeared here on Wednesday night "particularly satisfied" after talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which lasted 45 minutes.
Bakoyannis also ascertained that a new cooperation between Greece and the U.S.A. begins, characterised by a will for deepening the strategic relationship between the two countries. On Tuesday (24.2) the Greek minister had met with president Obama's National Security Adviser General James Jones and members of Congress.
Speaking to reporters after a working luncheon with Under Secretary for Political Affairs William J. Burns and the meeting that followed with Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, Bakoyannis referred to "positive meetings that took place in a particularly good climate."
"This is not diplomatic dialect, but the substance," she added.
"A wide range of issues of particular interest to Greece was discussed, such as Greek-Turkish relations, EU-Turkey relations and the Cyprus issue, as well as other issues of broader interest like the Middle East problem and, due to Greece's 2009 OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) presidency, the problems in Caucasus and the talks we intend to start with Russia," Bakoyannis said.
The Greek foreign minister, whose three-day visit to Washington ended on Wednesday night (Greek time), was due to depart for New York later in the night.
"I completed my contacts with the new U.S. administration by meeting Mrs Clinton as well as all State Department cadres," Bakoyannis told the press.
"The talks were positive, held in a particularly good climate, constructive, and I do not say this in the diplomatic dialect but in substance, and I believe that this is the beginning of a good cooperation, to which we will advance in the coming months. Mrs Clinton was very clear. She spoke of a relationship of strategic importance, which will be taken over by very specific working groups that will elaborate and debate on some issues of particular interest to the two countries. Mrs Clinton has proposed the broadening of this Greece-U.S. strategic relationship and cooperation, on specific affairs such as those preoccupying the OSCE and Balkan and Middle East issues," the Greek foreign minister added.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos earlier on Wednesday stressed the significance of a visit by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to the United States, especially her meeting later the same day with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"I believe that it is an important visit. First of all, it is taking place shortly after the new U.S. administration took over and gives Greece the opportunity and possibility, precisely within a short space of time, to present its positions, views, concerns but also proposals on a series of issues. Whether these concern broader issues or mainly top priority issues for Greece, such as the situation in the Balkans, the Cyprus problem or our relations with Turkey," Koumoutsakos said in statements to the state-run satellite TV channel NET.
The spokesman said that the Greek side had high hopes for the results of the meeting between Bakoyannis and Clinton, especially in terms of the Greece's request to be included in the U.S. visa waiver programme. Koumoutsakos anticipated that close cooperation on this issue between Greek and U.S. authorities will lead to a final solution within the current year.
"Its waiver for Greek citizens wishing to visit the United States is necessary. It is necessary for practical but also for symbolic reasons," he noted, adding that it was also "just".
Resolving this will be "a step reaffirming the traditional friendship of two modern, democratic countries with shared principles and values," Koumoutsakos said.