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11/8/02 - THE U.S. AND GREECE - 2002-11-08

Greece is a valuable ally in the U.S.-led war against global terrorism. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, Greek airmen were among those who patrolled U.S. skies in NATO planes. Greek and American personnel served together in the Arabian Sea and in Afghanistan. And more recently, Greek authorities arrested more than a dozen of those associated with the November 17th terrorist group.

Since 1975, the November 17th terrorists have conducted a campaign of assassination aimed at Greek and foreign officials and businessmen. In June 2000, November 17th terrorists murdered British defense attaché Stephen Sanders. November 17th terrorists also targeted European Union business firms in Greece. With the recent arrests, Costas Simitis, Greece’s prime minister, said, “Democracy has crushed terrorism and installed a sense of security into Greek society.”

But the U.S.-Greece partnership extends beyond the war on terrorism. This month marks the seventieth anniversary of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce. In Athens, Marc Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said, “Trade and investment are the engines that drive the U.S.-Greek relationship.”

Since the 1980s, the volume of trade between the U.S. and Greece has nearly doubled. The U.S. is one of the largest investors in Greece. And Greece’s purchasing power continues to expand at a rapid rate.

In January, Greece takes over the presidency of the European Union. Greece will be leading the regional organization through an important period as the E-U expands to include countries from central and eastern Europe, and Cyprus. And in 2004, Greece will host the Olympic Games. The Olympics originated in Greece and the 2004 Games will allow the country to showcase itself to the world.

As President George W. Bush said, “Greece and America have been allies in the great twentieth century struggles against Nazism, Soviet Communism, and Iraqi aggression. Our two nations are bound by history, by trade, by mutual respect, by common ideals, and one of the world’s most important alliances.”