Government officials on Wednesday sought to play down the possible ramifications of the election of Donald Trump as US president vis-a-vis Washington’s stance on the prospects of debt relief for Greece, the Cyprus problem and Greece’s role in the broader region.
“Nothing suggests that the position of the new American government as regards the debt and Cyprus will change,” a government official said.
Last night Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sent a letter congratulating Trump and referring to “the traditional ties of friendship between the Greek and American people on the basis of common principles of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.” The letter also expressed Tsipras’s intention to deepen bilateral cooperation “for the benefit of our two peoples, peace and regional stability.”
Early Wednesday, when it was clear that Trump had won, a government source said authorities had been prepared for both eventualities. The source added that Trump’s election would clearly lead to “changes on the US domestic scene and the international geopolitical system,” adding that Athens was “monitoring these closely.” The same source expressed concern over “issues relating to human rights and minority rights.”
Greek officials were keen to insist that Trump’s election did not reduce the significance of a scheduled visit to Athens next week by outgoing President Barack Obama, even though the continuity of another Democratic leader would have been an obvious advantage to the leftist-led coalition. A government source said Obama’s visit is still “of massive importance” in view of Greece’s second bailout review and the debt talks that are supposed to follow as well as “the fact that Greece remains of great significance to America’s foreign policy.”
Later in the day, a Tsipras aide conceded that one could not rule out the possibility of the new US administration “choosing to turn inward and downgrade the international interventionist role of the US.”
Rebuffing claims that the government failed to foster ties with Trump, the Greek Foreign Ministry said that during a visit by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to New York in September, George Papadopoulos, a Greek-American adviser to Athens, met George Tzitzikos, a Greek-American adviser to Trump.
Trump has commented on Greece only a couple of times prior to his election, always dismissively. In the summer of last year, Trump said Greece’s problems are not for the US to solve but for Berlin and warned against US debt spiraling, pointing to an “unsalvageable” Greece.