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Remarks at Award Presentation from the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 22, 2009


Date: 05/22/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at Award Presentation from the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes. State Dept Photo

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Your Eminence. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. Well, thank you so much, Your Eminence. I am very honored by this recognition, and I am very privileged to have known you and worked with you now over a number of years from the moment of your induction and ascent to this position of eminence. I am very grateful to everyone here for the strong ties that bind our people. And it is a unique and fitting tribute that we would have earth collected from the birthplace of democracy and from the center of our own democracy here in Washington as we strive to fulfill the Athenian democratic tradition.

There is an extraordinary number of leaders arrayed behind me, and I want to thank each and every one of them. And I particularly am grateful to my long-time friend, Andy Manatos.

I’m delighted to welcome you to Washington for the 25th Annual Cyprus, Hellenic and Orthodox Issues Conference. I hope your time here will be productive, that your meetings with the policymakers of our country have been very positive, and that we will build on our progress in promoting stability, justice, and opportunity not only for the Hellenic and American communities, but really for all people of good faith willing to work together.

There are so many important issues, some of which have been mentioned. We are committed to the reopening of the Halki Seminary, to the unification of Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we know these are difficult issues. The Hellenic community has been leading and working on them for many years. But I want to pledge to you that the Obama Administration is committed to making progress through our partnership. We are dedicated to advancing dialogue and cooperation and working to support the people of Greece and Cyprus as they advance stability and democracy in the Mediterranean.

As I mentioned earlier, I have enjoyed greatly my work on behalf of issues of regional and international significance with representatives of both Greece and Cyprus over the last four months. And we are committed to deepening and furthering that relationship. But of course, we know that it can’t be just government-to-government; it has to be people-to-people. We have to build confidence and trust and understanding in order to resolve the issues that we are concerned about today.

I am convinced that the unity we have, because of our strong cultural ties, sustained and enhanced by the millions of Americans with Hellenic heritage who serve in every sector and enrich the life of our nation, makes us stronger, and that we can commit ourselves to an agenda of prosperity, peace, and progress.

So I thank you for this award. I am greatly looking forward to my next visit to Greece at the end of next month where Greece will be hosting an important gathering of the OSCE countries to talk about stability in Europe and many of the other regional matters that we are working on together. And I wish all of you not only a very successful conference, but a very positive outcome of your efforts. And please extend my personal best wishes to the Patriarch. My opportunities to visit with him and talk with him have been true highlights of my life in public service, and I look forward to seeing him again. I understand he may be coming to the United States, I hope in the future, and it will be my great honor to receive him and to look forward to hosting him here at the State Department.

Thank you, Your Eminence. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)

Any questions? Do we have any questions?

QUESTION: I was wondering on another subject --


QUESTION: -- on the FYROM issue, which you mentioned.


QUESTION: There is hope that maybe this Administration will be a little bit more sensitive to Greece’s sensitivities, and you personally. Will you address the issue, and do you plan doing something so we can solve this and more forward with their accession to the EU and NATO?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have been very committed to that. I have spoken out about the need to resolve the name issue in a way that is acceptable to both parties. And Deputy Secretary Steinberg was recently in the region making that case. We have picked up this issue with a lot of commitment early on in our Administration. Obviously, this has to be resolved by the parties themselves, but we are urging that resolution. We think it is in everyone’s best interest. As you said, it would open the way for movement toward another nation joining the European Union, which we think promotes stability in the region, so we are very committed to doing what the United States can to facilitate that.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what do you intend to do to help the parties in Cyprus to have a solution? And what do you intend to do for the direction of Turkey, which holds the key to the solution of the problem?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think both sides hold the key. I think this has to be a decision that is reached by the people of Cyprus themselves. We are strongly supporting the United Nations mediator. I have met with representatives of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and have underscored the Obama Administration’s commitment to supporting the steps that they would be willing to take themselves to resolve this. We believe in a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, and we’re going to continue to support that and work toward that. And again, we think it is in everyone’s interest.

Cyprus is so strategically located. And in terms of its impact on the actions in the region, its commercial possibilities, its opportunities for greater prosperity that can be shared among all of the people of Cyprus, I just think the future is unlimited. But this has to be resolved, but in a way that brings confidence and security to people on both sides, and that’s what we are going to work to achieve. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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PRN: 2009/496

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