12 February, 2007
Relations between Greece and the United States "have never been better" according to an interview by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries appearing in this week's edition of the Sunday paper "Macedonia on Sunday".
He had been asked whether the recent terrorist strike with a rocket-propelled grenade against the US Embassy in Athens last month had caused friction between the two countries.
According to Ries, the attack had essentially been made against Greece, as well.
Asked if the new terrorist group might be a spin off of the defunct Marxist terror group "November 17" - whose key members are now in jail - Ries said that it was difficult to say for sure. He expressed some doubts about whether N17 had been fully disbanded, noting that the investigation and trial had failed to identify those guilty for the murders of CIA station chief Richard Welch or U.S. Navy officer George Tsantes, while neither a gun used by the organisation nor its seal had ever been found.
"Presumably there are people who know where this evidence is. There are unanswered questions that will not be answered until we get right to the end of this," he added.
Regarding Turkey's progress toward European Union accession, the U.S. envoy said that Athens appeared to be "seeing far and to have a strategy" on this issue".
"It is in Greece's interests for Turkey to commit to the target of become a full EU member," he said, noting that Ankara appeared determined to overcome any difficulties while conceding that "not everything is going smoothly" in this effort.
Commenting on the latest problems between Turkey and Cyprus over oil exploration rights in seas south of Cyprus, the ambassador reiterated Washington's position that a solution of the Cyprus issue would obviate problems of this sort and expressed hope that a U.N.-mediated process for solving the Cyprus problem begun in July would lead to the desired result.
With respect to Greece's dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Ries said he was sanguine that an initiative by U.N. mediator Matthew Nimetz would yield results while noting that the U.S. had recognised FYROM with its Constitutional name 'Republic of Macedonia' in order to preserve stability in the Balkans and would abide by this decision until there was a final agreement over the dispute.
On Kosovo, he said that the U.S. viewed any change in Balkan borders as a destabilising factor and, for this reason, proposals by U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari stipulate that Kosovo will not then join with any other state and that its current borders will final.
Source: Athens News Agency