October 14, 2009

CARDIN AMONG FIRST TO MEET WITH NEW GREEK PRIME MINISTER

Greek visit focuses on climate change, international cooperation, minority rights

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) expressed hope that the new Greek government would tackle critical regional issues and continue to be a strong leader as Chair-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
 
Senator Cardin visited Athens this weekend for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Fall Meeting. On the sidelines of the meeting, he met Sunday with Prime Minister George Papandreou, who also serves as the Greek Foreign Minister. The U.S. delegation, which also included Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Commission, along with Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH) and Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), were among the first foreign officials to visit the Papandreou government in Athens since the Oct. 4 election. The delegation met on Saturday with Greek Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos.
 

"We had a very positive meeting with Prime Minister Papandreou. He was generous with his time and thoughts.  The new government has a real chance to take advantage of this moment in history to have a lasting legacy resolving ongoing discussions between the governments in Athens and Skopje, and improving Greece's relationship with Cyprus and Turkey," said Senator Cardin. "I look forward to the great friendship between the U.S. and Greece growing stronger under this new administration. The government's early outreach to Turkey is a welcome sign that the Prime Minister is serious about dfa-adfasdfa-sf  regional cooperation. Considering Greece's role as the 2009 Chair-in-Office of the OSCE, I pledge the full cooperation of the U.S. to help the December ministerial meeting meet reasonable expectations."

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Last Friday, Senator Cardin, as vice president of the Parliamentary Assembly, delivered a keynote address on climate change, before the 200 gathered parliamentarians from 49 OSCE participating States.

The delegation also received a high level briefing from U.S. Ambassador to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard and visited a Roma village to see firsthand the conditions in which members of this minority group live in Greece. After discussing the need for greater access to education and health care with local Roma residents and touring a few makeshift homes, the delegation donated needed clothing and health supplies to about 40 children and their families.
 
Additional photos are available at www.flickr.com/photos/helsinkicommission .