American Hellenic Institute


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Forum Analyzes NATO’s Future Direction: “New Strategic Concept”
August 11, 2010—No. 06 (202) 785-8430


Executive Director’s Note: The American Hellenic Institute presents AHI’s Capital Report which is a timely synopsis of recent policy discussions in Washington to help keep you abreast of the latest developments. As a service to our membership and constituency, and to gain an understanding of the position of other entities on our issues, the American Hellenic Institute attends and participates at policy forums or roundtable discussions to ensure the policy positions of the Greek-American community are represented.

The content provided in AHI’s Capital Report is for informational purposes only, and does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of AHI.

Forum Analyzes NATO’s Future Direction: “New Strategic Concept”

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project hosted a policy forum titled, “NATO’s New Strategy in the Era of Financial Crisis,” with guest speaker Dr. Marios Efthymiopoulos, Southeast Europe Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center, Strategy International (Greece) on July 13, 2010.

In his presentation, Dr. Efthymiopoulos outlined his thoughts on the future direction of NATO in what he called NATO’s “New Strategic Concept.” This concept will affect NATO’s country-to-country interactions. It includes an expanded definition of “defense” to encompass or address political and financial aspects as well as military. The New Strategic Concept also calls for less bureaucracy and an open door policy while maintaining respect for law, sovereignty, and alliances. Dr. Efthymiopoulos added that NATO is willing to go “global” as opposed to its current status as a “regional” alliance.

Looking into his crystal ball, Dr. Efthymiopoulos offered these future changes for NATO:

  • education to those in reference to NATO,
  • increase in maritime operations,
  • weapons control,
  • spread of peace and climate control, and
  • NATO – Russian relations.

Dr. Efthymiopoulos concluded by turning his attention to NATO – Greece relations. He made the following observations:

  • Greece’s Ambassador to NATO has been influential and engaging.
  • Turkey and Cyprus are in a “locked situation” because each nation refused to let the other into their respective organizations (EU and NATO).
  • Greece is stocking up on submarines from Germany.
  • Thessaloniki is of major significance to NATO’s missile program.
  • In regard to Afghanistan, Greece is unable to offer military assistance; only civilian help.

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Green Development is the Focus of Greece’s Foreign Policy amid Financial Crisis

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Southeast Europe Project hosted a forum titled, “Greening the Mediterranean: Greek Foreign Policy against the Backdrop of the Financial Crisis,” with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis, on July 8, 2010.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis explained the situation that spawned Greece’s economic crisis, including the global crisis that started in U.S. and spread throughout Europe. In Greece, the combination of high public deficit and debt made the country much more vulnerable to a financial crisis. The overall strategy to address the financial crisis is based on stability and growth. The deputy foreign minister identified the steps Greece has taken to correct its financial problem, including the implementation of an austerity program that involved a reduction in public spending and tax reform and assistance from the IMF.

The balance of Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis’ presentation focused on green development, foreign investment, and entrepreneurship in Greece as components of a long-term solution. He cited recent passage of a renewable energy legislation to encourage investments with less bureaucracy and a “fast-track” law for business start-ups.  The green development is the most important point because of Greece’s geographical position. It is a crossroads for the region and it can be a key energy player, especially in the renewable energy sector. He cited a recent $3.5 billion agreement with Qatar on energy investment. In addition, with the 2014 target date for western Balkan nations to join the European Union—to coincide with Greece’s next presidency of the EU—Greece wants to drive green development into the Black Sea region. Greece also engaged in a similar initiative in the Ionian/Adriatic and Mediterranean.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis said Greece is looking to Greek Americans who have the creativity and bright minds that want to cooperate with Greece on this green development initiative.

A Q&A session followed. To view Deputy Foreign Minister Kouvelis’ full presentation, please click here.

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AHI Meets with Texas Congressional Delegation Offices

The American Hellenic Institute continued with its proactive campaign in Washington to meet with key policymakers on issues of concern to the Greek American community.

In July, AHI focused its efforts on the Texas congressional delegation, meeting with staff from the offices of U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and John Cornyn (R-TX); and U.S. Reps. Pete Olson (R-22-TX) and Pete Sessions (R-32-TX).

AHI staff extensively covered the Aegean Sea issue, FYROM name recognition, the Cyprus issue, and religious freedom and tolerance for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For the FYROM name issue, an analogy was used with Texas, and whenever possible, personal experiences were conveyed. AHI met with foreign policy staff persons and AHI’s positions were well-received overall.

AHI disseminates policy information to members of Congress and congressional staffers that relates to United States relations between Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey as it pertains to the best interest of the United States.

The meetings were organized by AHI’s Director of Government Affairs & Media Relations, Constandinos Franciscos Economides.

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Ambassador to Turkey

On July 20, 2010, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held confirmation hearings for four nominees to become ambassadors to various countries. One of the nominees was Ambassador-designate Francis Ricciardone, Jr., to be ambassador to the Republic of Turkey.

In his opening statement, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) stated: “Turkey is an important ally with strong governing institutions, a dynamic economy, and a vibrant civil society in a region where such assets are rare. Today, Turkey is making important contributions in Iraq and in Afghanistan as a member of NATO, and we are grateful for their support.”

Chairman Kerry also added that “we are troubled” by the deterioration of ties between Israel and Turkey. “It‘s in all of our interest that these two crucial American partners resolve the current impasse. And while the United States and Turkey will have our differences, this is an important relationship and we need to find a productive path forward together,” he concluded.

During the nomination hearing, U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Robert Casey (D-PA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) raised issues about United States relations with Turkey and issues relating to the plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey and Turkey’s occupation of the Republic of Cyprus.On the eve of the Committee’s confirmation hearing, AHI sent a letter to each committee member calling for a reevaluation of U.S. with Turkey. AHI’s statement on the letter’s distribution can be found here.

On August 5, 2010, the nomination of Ambassador-designate Ricciardone was placed on an “executive calendar hold” by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS).

To view the hearing in its entirety, please click here.

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For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at