The United States would act in the Aegean confrontation

It was the custom of American presidents to have breakfast at the Willard Hotel in the 1930s, a block from the White House. The lobby was always full of people who wanted a few moments of their time to raise all sorts of issues – and that’s how lobbyists were born.

One of the heirs of those original lobbyists today is Greek-American Mike Manatos, who has worked in the family business in Washington for 32 years, carrying on a tradition started by his grandfather and namesake he 85 years ago and continued by her father Andy. .

Mike Manatos, Sr has worked with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, “and was the first Greek American to work in the White House,” he told Kathimerini during a recent visit to Athens.

When Andy Manatos, who was assistant secretary of commerce in Jimmy Carter’s administration, started working in the Senate, he sat a hallway from current US President Joe Biden. “I grew up with his son,” says Mike Manatos. “Our name is our reputation.”

What does a lobbyist do?

If you have, or want to prevent, a problem in Washington, you hire a lobbyist. They understand how government works and who you need to talk to. Good lobbyists, like us, have trusting relationships with these people and speak the “Washington language”, which is essential for a politician to understand why something would benefit the people they represent, the country and themselves. -same.

How have Greek-American relations evolved over the past 32 years?

They are better now than they have ever been. There has been a significant change in the past five years with the signing of the Greek-American Defense Cooperation Agreement and with the current Prime Minister exceeding all expectations with his speech to Congress. Then there is the US President. This is the first time we have an American President who not only knows the region, but has spent his entire career promoting Greece, Hellenism and Orthodoxy. His top foreign policy advisers also have a history of powerful support for Greece. Moreover, the American Ambassador to Greece is for the first time a Greek American.

Do you think Joe Biden will be re-elected? And if not, how would Donald Trump’s re-election affect those ties?

President Biden says he is considering running again, but many wonder if that will actually happen. I would love to, but he’s getting old – like all of us – and I don’t know if he wants to submit to another election campaign and another four years in office. I think whoever the Democratic candidate is, he will have a very difficult mission to accomplish, because there is a 99% chance that he will end up facing Trump. When it comes to Greece, great things have happened with the Republicans [Mike] Pompeo as Secretary of State, so a lot depends on who will be Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, etc.

Regardless of the next administration, isn’t it in America’s interest to be more on Greece’s side than Turkey‘s?

“This is the first time we have an American president who not only knows the region, but has spent his entire career promoting Greece, Hellenism and Orthodoxy”

The United States is much closer to Greece in terms of general philosophy, priorities and basic principles than to Turkey. Turkey is useful; Greece is useful. When our foreign policy makers wake up in the morning wondering which will be the bigger problem – Russia, Syria or Libya – Turkey is directly involved in all of these places. He’s doing the wrong thing in most places, like Syria, or not helping as much as he should, like Ukraine, but he’s a player. They don’t think of Greece when they wake up in the morning. On the other hand, Greece has done what America has been asking for years, and more. He is a remarkably reliable ally. One of the most important things to come out of the Prime Minister’s recent visit was not only recognition of Greece’s support for the US-led effort against Russia in Ukraine, but also the courage demonstrated by Greece in taking this decision, the sacrifices.

But does Greece have the unwavering support of the United States in return?

This is the big question and part of our biggest effort in Washington. Greece always does the right thing, Turkey almost always does the wrong thing, but when Turkey behaves provocatively, our bureaucracy treats both countries equally. This has improved under the current administration and the language used about these provocations has started to get louder.

Is Turkey simply more important to the United States than Greece?

I wouldn’t use the word “important,” but I think Turkey is more essential to the United States when looking at it through the prism of some of the most troubled parts of the world — it’s a geographic fact.

How much of a real threat would you say Turkey poses to Greece right now?

This is what I am trying to verify during this visit to Athens. I heard all sorts of different views – from Turkish troops landing on an island to other interventions. The good news, as far as the American reaction is concerned, is that the current administrative personnel are more energetic. They are already creating a game plan of what the reaction would be and what they could do to help more.

So they are preparing for the possibility of a military confrontation?

Yes, whereas in the past the reaction was: “What a headache; let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Hopefully, with this preparation, their response will be helpful. It’s not that they’re conducting official exercises, but that they’re having important discussions that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, because Greek-American relations are so good and [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan is so unstable and unpredictable. Erdogan today is even more unpredictable and dangerous than Erdogan in 2020 and Greece needs all the help it can get to protect itself against Turkey.

How do you see the end of the war in Ukraine?

I talk to people in the US government, and a lot of them say, “Honestly, I don’t know. I think the president [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy is so excited that surrender is out of the question.

And what about Cyprus? Has the United States forgotten it?

No, and mainly because there is a very active Cypriot-American community that keeps the issue alive, and we have also been lobbying for Cyprus for decades. We must demonstrate how it would be in America’s interest to end the illegal occupation of Cyprus. Biden, [National Security Adviser Jake] Sullivan and [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken knows the subject well. I’m sure they want something big to happen before their term ends.

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