Citing an incident last May when the US Defense Secretary invited— then snubbed his Greek counterpart Panos Kammenos, Andy and Mike Manatos, noted Washington DC lobbyists sent a letter to over fifty American policy makers seeking better treatment of Greece during this critical juncture in relations with the United States and the world.
Recalling their five-plus decades and three generations of experience in dealing with Greek-US relations and working to strengthen bi-lateral relations between the two nations, the Manatos father and son team encouraged policy makers to consider Greece’s history of support of US interests and its geo-political position in the world.
Specifically citing what they called a “bizarre” incident, US Defense Secretary invited Greek Defense Secretary Panos Kammenos to Washington, then refused to see him. The letter called the Defense Secretary’s decision “unwise treatment of the people of Greece.”
“Amid this situation where many Greeks see German efforts as attempts to “humiliate” their injured country, our officials took an action seen by some Greeks as additional “humiliation.” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recently invited the Greek people’s Minister of Defense to Washington and then bizarrely refused to meet with him. He refused even a face-saving photo op or phone call, despite the invitation emerging from his office in the first place,” the letter went on to say.
“This strange decision, the letter continued, “Though possibly satisfying some short-term goal, seems to have gone out of its way to send a dangerous message to the people of Greece. It could very well have a long-term negative impact on American interests in the region and on our incredibly positive historic relationship. These, after all, are the Greek people: (1) whose Souda Bay base has been crucial to thousands of our planes, ships and troops fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East; (2) who are our outpost of Western Democracy (with only Israel and Cyprus) in that rapidly retrogressing region; (3) who make up the country that was one of only seven that has been with us in every international conflict in the 20th Century; and (4) who were the first to defeat the Axis Forces in WWII, publicly oppose the Holocaust while occupied by Nazis and who Winston Churchill said were crucial to the defeat of Hitler.”
The Manatos’ went on to allude to recent leanings of the Greek government towards Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
“At this pivotal juncture in Greek history, some economically devastated and fragile Greeks have been seeking a dramatic departure from the status quo and flirting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some Greeks have questioned why their country never sees the benefits of using American access to their important military base in Souda Bay, Crete as a strategic card of negotiation, as Turkey always does with their Incirlik base.”
The letter concluded with an admission to the US policy makers that Greece and Greeks need to be treated better.
“We should always treat the Greek people as the great allies they are. However, this should especially be the case during this era when: (1) we have spent virtually nothing to help our great ally’s brutal economic catastrophe, while sending hundreds of millions elsewhere (like the tens of millions we give every year to Caribbean private businesses); and (2) American military efforts against the greatest threats on American lives emanating from the Eastern Mediterranean are dependent on Greece’s Souda Bay’s base. We ask that you, as a friend of Greece, urge others in the Administration to deal appropriately with our Greek allies.”