Greece bitter over US visas

The Greek ambassador to the United States on Saturday expressed his disappointment with a US decision not to include Greece in the US Waiver Program (VWP), saying it «was not a good day for Greece and Greek Americans.» Speaking after US President George W. Bush said that another seven countries would be added to the list of those who can travel to the US without needing a visa, Alexandros Mallias said, «Greece should have been the first to enter the program.» The new countries on the list are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and South Korea. Last Friday, US Ambassador in Greece Daniel Speckhard was upbeat about Greece’s prospects for admission to the VWP. «It’s just a matter of time now,» he said. But there is speculation that the US failure to include Greece on the list was in retaliation for Athens blocking the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s bid to join NATO earlier this year.