The defence agreement between Greece and France will have a beneficial impact on NATO and the European Union, as well as on Greek-American relations, the Executive Director of the Hellenic-American Leadership Council (HALC) Endy Zemenides said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency released on Saturday.
Zemenides expressed concern that the US was sending “mixed signals” to Ankara and, in certain areas, “allowing Turkey to believe that Washington needs Ankara more than Ankara needs Washington.” He expressed the opinion that the Biden administration must make it clear that it will pull back from the relationship, unless Turkey changes its behaviour. “In this light, I consider that the defence agreement between Greece and France is truly great. At a time when, for good or ill, foreign policy in the US is showing a tendency to diminish its presence or withdraw from certain parts of the planet, as recently happened in the case of Afghanistan, Washington will depend increasingly on its allies in order to maintain its influence in specific regions. As a result, the Greece-France agreement is in the interests of the United States, as it makes Athens a stronger ally and upgrades its role for Washington, while it does not rule out the conclusion of more such agreements, either within the EU or with the US,” he said. Zemenides also discussed ways in which the Greek-American expatriate community can assist Greece, including by returning to work in Greece in the context of the government’s campaign for “brain gain”. “I am not sure that Greece should be aiming to cover a part of the brain drain with the expatriate community, nor whether such a thing is possible. However, as the next generation of Greek-Americans are executives in many of the largest US firms with strong investment activity abroad, Greece should involve them ever more deeply in the effort to persuade their companies to invest in Greece,” he said.
Regarding the government’s legislation to facilitate voting by Greeks abroad, Zemenides praised the law in principle but said the specific bill did not do enough in this direction. He also advised incentives to allow Greek-Americans to study in Greece for extended periods and create deeper ties to the country, while advising against reliance on the church as a vehicle for maintaining links with Greece.
“Greek-Americans need to get to know Greece as it really is, not just in the summer or the Greece of their youth. And Greece needs to truly get to know Greek Americans and not the “image” that they have of Greek Americans,” he added.
Zemenides said that the Greek-American community can play an important role in promoting important issues of Greek foreign policy and the country’s bilateral ties with the US, as many members of the community had great influence and were able to shape public opinion and policy priorities in the United States.
“The broader Greek-American community has also demonstrated that it can mobilise to promote all issues that concern Greece,” he pointed out, adding that Greece must make a greater effort to build deeper ties with those who shape public opinion and ensure that the next generation of Greek-Americans makes Greek issues a part of its identity in the United States.