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The United States and Greece
The theme of this conference is "Irreconcilable Differences? American Foreign Policy and Greek National Interests.' AHEPA deserves our congratulations from sponsoring a conference on so important a topic, and I will direct most of my remarks to this question. But I want to begin with a few words about the larger context in which relations between the United States and Greece occur.
President Reagan took office at a time of crisis and demoralization is U.S. foreign policy. Twin setbacks in Iran and Afghanistan, a relentless Soviet weapons buildup, major economic problems at home and abroad--all left the West relatively weaker and America's leadership role more in doubt than at any time since World War II.
The President was highly successful in meeting these challenges. The election results of November attest to the widespread support for his policies and leadership. I understand, too, that nearly two-thirds of the Greek-Americans voting favored President Reagan.
What Greek-Americans and others endorsed was a self-confident America, an America of renewed economic opportunity and growth, and an America of restored military might. Election results also revealed support for a foreign policy dictated by a sincere commitment to negotiations and arms reduction tempered by a realistic assessment of the Soviet Union.
A key aspect of our success abroad was that it was shared. The United States has long recognized that it cannot go it alone if peace and freedom are to be preserved. Our experience in the alliance of democracies, NATO, has been a great success. Sixteen countries with widely different backgrounds, some formerly bitter enemies, belong. As allies they have worked together to preserve the peace in Europe for over 35 years. And they have done so in the face of a growing threat from the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
Greece and the Alliance
Greece is one of the members of this successful alliance. It has enjoyed the peace NATO has provided. It has added to the strength that preserved the peace. Greece and the United States share the common benefits and responsibilities that go with membership in this unique association.
Yet despite this proud and successful past, our differences seem to have increased in number and gravity. Are these differences irreconcilable? I won't keep you in suspense. My answer is no. Let me justify this answer with a few propositions.
My first proposition is that Greece has long been a valued and important friend and ally. Just as Greek-Americans cannot separate themselves entirely from their former homeland, America cannot separate itself from a heritage which dates back to ancient Greece. The very word for our form of government --democracy--comes from Greek. Our art and architecture abound with the influences of Hellenic culture. Thousands of …