Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today announced Greece has entered into the United States Visa Waiver Program.
With her meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, Ms. Clinton said the program makes it easier for Greeks to visit family and friends in the United States.
“And later today, as the minister said, we will be signing a cultural preservation agreement to make it more difficult for looters and smugglers to make that same trip carrying Greece’s historic treasures. That will protect tourism and ensure that the remarkable cultural heritage of this country remains in the hands of the Greek people.” -Ms. Clinton
Both countries today also reaffirmed alliance and partnership as members of NATO.
Ms. Clinton said she was pleased to be in Athens during the challenging times to demonstrate unequivocally the strong support that the United States has for Greece.
“We know that we are your friend and we are your ally and we are proud to be both. We stand by the people and Government of Greece as you put your country back on a path to economic stability and prosperity.” -Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton underscored that as a NATO ally, the United States appreciate Greece’s partnership on a shared agenda that spans the globe. She said they have just completed a very productive conversation, not just about Greece’s immediate challenges but about the full range of issues that form the core of our enduring alliance.
“We discussed our ongoing efforts in the NATO coalition operations to protect civilians and help the Libyan people claim a better future. Our diplomatic and military efforts are gaining momentum, and we are grateful for Greece’s engagement and support, especially your willingness to host coalition military assets at Souda Bay and other sites close to Libya.” -Ms. Clinton
She highlighted that she appreciates Greece’s support in speaking strongly against the attack on U.S. Embassy and the French Embassy in Damascus. She added both countries will work together as part of the international community to support a vision for a Syria with representative government, respect for civil liberties, equal protection for all citizens under the law.
“We will also continue to work with Greece to support democratic transitions across the Middle East and North Africa. We commend the Greek Government for seeking a constructive approach in consultation with the United Nations to addressing the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza and working to avoid the risks that come with attempts to sail directly to Gaza.” -Ms. Clinton
She emphasized that the United States remains grateful for Greece’s continued engagement in meeting the shared challenges we confront.
“Greece and the United States are bound together by far more than our shared challenges. We are bound together by our shared values. In fact, we are grateful for Greece’s contribution to those values and their enduring legacy.” -Ms. Clinton