Relations between Greece the United States, Canada and the Latin American countries

Relations between Greece and the United States

Political Relations
Greece and the United States enjoy traditional close ties of friendship and cooperation in a wide field of bilateral activities, as well as in the international organizations in which they jointly participate.

During the last five years, additional mobility has been observed in the relations between the two countries since, among others, certain important outstanding matters have been settled, and both sides have affirmed their interest for the further strengthening of the ties between them. The new eight-year U.S.-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in September 1990 and has entered into effect, regulates defense relations between Greece and the United States on a mutually beneficial basis. At the same time, high level contacts between the two countries have continued via the exchange of visits, and cooperation was reinforced in the sensitive areas of terrorism and the war against drugs.

Cooperation during the Gulf war and throughout the Gulf crisis, as well as the de jure recognition of Israel by Greece, have further strengthened relations between Greece and the United States. At the same time, the large and financially robust Greek-American community in the States, which numbers 2 to 3 million Greek-Americans, maintains strong ties with Greece, shows great interest in issues of mutual concern to both countries, and has long established itself as a firm link of friendship and cooperation between them.

As is natural, relations between Greece and the United States do not solely involve, and are not solely affected by, bilateral issues. They are also influenced by developments in wider regional and international contexts. Thus, for example, the question of Turkey's illegal occupation of half of Cyprus (about which the U.S. administration has shown special interest), relations between Greece and Turkey, and other issues that arise in the wider Balkan region are all of vital concern to Greece, and at times can involve and affect U.S.-Greek relations.

Similarly, Greece both supports and actively participates in the Partnership for Peace initiative ("PFP"), together with the United States. In the PFP context, in May 1995 Greece organized a humanitarial multinational exercize in the Karditsa area named "NEW SPIRIT 95." This exercize was the first of its kind to take place in the Balkans. It involved personnel from Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and the United States. The different teams worked closely together in a scenario to meet the needs of populations hit by major earthquakes. The purpose of the exercize was to foster good will and the spirit of cooperative action among the countries involved for the execution of joint humanitarian missions in the Balkan region.

Greek -U.S. relations were further enhanced during the visits of Greek Prime Minister Mr. Simitis (working visit, April 7-10) and the President of the Republic Mr. Stephanopoulos (State visit, May 7-10) to the United States.

Both men discussed with President Clinton and members of the Administration all aspects of bilateral issues, the opportunities for economic cooperation in the Balkan area, Greek-Turkish relations, the Cyprus problem, and issues relating to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

It was stressed, on both sides, that international law and international treaties should be the basis of relations between Greece and Turkey, and that territorial claims should not be settled by force of the threat of force but through the International Court of Justice.

On the Cyprus problem, the importance of a just and viable solution was emphasized. President Clinton committed himself once more to work personally towards this goal.

A few days later (14-16 May, 1996) the annual High Level Consultative Committee meeting was held in Washington, where bilateral defense cooperation was reviewed.

Finally, the signing, on May 20, 1996, of the bilateral agreement regarding the status of the relay stations of the Voice of America in Greece offers, among other things, the chance to Greek-Americans to receive programs of Greek national broadcasting in the United States.

Economic-Commercial Relations
The legal framework governing Greece's bilateral trade relations with the United States is the same one applicable to relations between the United States and all European Union member-states, i.e., the wider framework of the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, within the context of multilateral regulations of the newly-established World Trade Organization.

With the exception of the restrictions imposed by the United States on the importation of certain agricultural products (fresh and processed), there is full freedom of sale of Greek industrial products in the U.S. market. The EU-United States Agreement (Memorandum) of May 1993 provides Greek enterprises with additional possibilities of access to U.S. public contracts.

The principal Greek products exported to the United States are tobacco, petroleum products, cement, clothing articles, fur products, foods, marble, steel products, pipes, and refractory products. U.S. imports to Greece consist mainly of agricultural products and machinery, telecommunications equipment, electrical equipment, computers and electronic equipment, medical and pharmaceutical items, machinery and parts, skins, timber, and wood-pulp.

In the context of developing even closer economic cooperation between Greece and the United States, efforts are being advanced for promoting cooperation on a joint venture or subcontracting basis between American and Greek firms, for the execution of projects andinvestments and for the more efficient absorption of U.S. and Greek products in the markets of the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The implementation of such cooperation is sure to be further encouraged by the opportunity given to U.S. firms for state insurance of the business risk involved in investing in such areas as well as for financing.

Relations between Greece and Canada

The traditionally close Greek-Canadian relations have been further strengthened within the framework of NATO and the OSCE.

The Greek-Canadian community in Canada is an important link of friendship between the two countries, numbering today approximately 250,000. Most members of this vibrant community are first-generation Greeks, which explains their strong interest in the national issues of Greece.

Courses in Greek studies are being offered in several Canadian Universities. Greek-Canadians own a number of media enterprises throughout Canada. A great number of the Greeks of Canada are businessmen, doctors, lawyers, and university professors.

Relations between Greece and Latin American countries

The Past
In general, and in spite of the great geographical distance that separates Greece frrom Latin America, the climate in the relations of Greece with the countries of Latin America has been very positive. This is partly due to the fact there has never been an issue of conflict with any of our Latin American friends.

Furthermore, the Greek classical education is inherent in the education system of certain countries of Latin America and it is deeply appreciated. Finally, the cooperation of Cyprus with Latin American countries, in the framework of the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries, has had a positive impact on Grece as well.

However, apart from this positive spirit in our relations, the presence of Greece in the area had been for years very limited (small number of diplomatic authorities, limited exchanges of visits between officials), with limited trade transactions and economic activity in general.

The Present
In August 1986, for the first time ever, a Greek Prime Minister visited Latin America in an official capacity. Then Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou visited Mexico in the framework of bilateral relations. Subsequently he participated in the Initiative for Peace sponsored by six world leaders (also attended by the Mexican and the Argentinean leaders).

In addition to Greece's embassies in Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina, in recent years a Greek embassy was established in Cuba, and later on in Uruguay, Chile, and Peru.

In the cultural domain, the Centre of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, the only one of its kind present in Latin America, continues to operate successfully within the University of Santiago in Chile.

The Greeks of Latin America
Vibrant Greek communities exist in almost all Latin American countries. The largest among those are in Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Panama. Their contribution in the lives of their respective countries, as well as in the promotion of awareness of Greek national issues is significant. They also serve as a welcome bridge of mutual cultural awareness and cooperation between Greece and their respective countries.

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