Greece hails Obama victory

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has hailed the election of Illinois Senator Barack Obama as the 44th president of the USA as a «landmark victory» and expressed the hope that Greece will be able to work closely with his administration. «I would like to convey my warmest congratulations in your landmark election victory and my best wishes for addressing the challenges over the next four years,» Karamanlis said in a letter to Obama. The Greek premier then made reference to public statements by Obama and his vice president, Joe Biden, that essentially back Greece’s position on the Macedonia name issue, the reunification of Cyprus and the rights of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios in Istanbul. «I appreciate the clear and firm positions that you have adopted on issues of Greek concern,» Karamanlis said. «We will be looking forward to working closely with your administration in solving these issues and in developing and enhancing our relations in all fields during your term in office.» Relations between Athens and Washington have been fraught this year after Greece vetoed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s bid to join NATO and pursued closer relations with Russia. In return, the USA’s recent decision not to include Greece on its visa waiver program has antagonized Athens. However, US Ambassador to Greece Daniel V. Speckhard said he hoped Obama’s election would see the two countries work together more closely. «In his acceptance speech, President-elect Obama referred to the challenges the United States and the world face, including an economic crisis, conflicts and a planet in peril,» said Speckhard in a statement. «The tasks may seem daunting but we are in this together with our friends and allies and we are honored to include Greece in this list.»