17 November, 2006
"Greece is aware of the views of the United States on the specific issue because they have made their positions public," Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Thursday when asked to comment on the latest statements made by U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack regarding minorities in Greece.
Koumoutsakos did not, however, confirm McCormack's assertion that this was among issues raised during a visit by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis to the U.S. in late September.
Regarding Greek-U.S. relations in general, Koumoutsakos said that these had now entered a "period of maturity" and were the relations of two allied countries that cooperated within international bodies and could have convergent or divergent views. He stressed, however, that these were not harmful for Greek interests since these were adequately protected by Greek foreign policy, which was in accordance with international law, the principles of democracy and respect for human rights.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, McCormack said that the "U.S. definition of minorities is different from the definition used by Greece and some other European states".
The U.S. State Department spokesman also noted that "Greece has a strong record of integrating migrant workers" and said that the U.S. and Greece will continue working together to pursue common interests in the region and beyond.
"Our relationship with Greece has never been better," McCormack added.
He had been asked to comment on positions expressed by the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Athens, Thomas Countryman, who said in an interview with a local reporter that Greece was being "inconsistent" by not recognizing sections of the Moslem minority in northern Greece as Turkish, while describing the Lausanne Treaty on which the Greek position is based as a "milestone" but "not the last word in international law", indicating that it had been to some extent superseded by later treaties, such as the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.
Source: Athens News Agency