INTERVIEWS

Nicholas Burns: Biden a ‘longtime friend of Greece’

nicholas-burns-biden-a-longtime-friend-of-greece

Joe Biden’s experience and knowledge about the international community and American society, his leadership skills and his proven strong faith in democracy make him by far the most appropriate presidential candidate, Nicholas Burns tells Kathimerini in an interview ahead of the US election on November 3. Burns, one of the former vice president’s closest foreign policy advisers, is among the contenders for secretary of state or national security adviser in a potential Biden administration.

In the same interview, Burns, who has served as an ambassador to Greece and to NATO, as well as under secretary of state for political affairs, emphasizes that Biden has in recent months spoken out against the conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque, against Turkey’s aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean and on the future of Cyprus. He expects that, as president, Biden “will continue to be a close supporter of our alliance with Greece and of Cyprus during these difficult times.”

Burns, now a professor at Harvard, also criticizes incumbent Donald Trump, describing him as “the weakest and most divisive president” in American history.
 

What is at stake in this election?

I do think Tuesday’s election is the most important of our lifetime. Much is at stake for the future of America at home and in our foreign policy. We need a leadership change and I hope very much we will elect Joe Biden on November 3.

What are the major differences between the candidates in foreign policy? Why is Biden better than Trump?

I have been an adviser to Joe Biden for 18 months now and strongly support him for president. His experience, knowledge of the world and of our society, his leadership skills and abiding belief in our democratic experiment make him by far the better candidate.

What are his domestic priorities?

He is a man of deep convictions who exhibits great empathy for all Americans in our multiethnic, multireligious and multiracial country. Our deepest problems are here at home – the pandemic, the recession and our racial crisis. Joe Biden is someone who can heal and unite the country. That is what we need most now.

Which I assume you think is not the case today with President Trump…

Donald Trump, on the other hand, is the weakest and most divisive president we have ever had here in America. He has failed to lead effectively on the coronavirus, has misled the American people from his first day in office and has divided us by race. His is a chaos presidency of vulgar tweets, division and an utter lack of positive leadership.

In foreign policy, he has disavowed and weakened NATO, not supported democracy and freedom in Hong Kong and Belarus, and has been far too friendly with dictators such as Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. He has withdrawn us from global leadership – from the World Health Organization, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal.

What should Greece expect if Biden wins, in bilateral relations, and in dealing with Turkish threats in the broader East Med region?

Vice President Biden is a longtime friend of Greece and of Cyprus. Just in the last few months, he has spoken out in opposition to the transformation of Hagia Sophia, against Turkish aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean, and about the future of Cyprus. If he is elected, I expect he will continue to be a close supporter of our alliance with Greece and of Cyprus during these difficult times.

How is Greece seen by the Biden team?

This is a time of optimism about Greece’s economic recovery, its leading role in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, and about its relationship with the US. It is also a time for challenges for both Greece and Cyprus in the region. I think the future is bright for our long alliance and friendship, especially if Joe Biden is elected president.

You know Biden personally. What makes him stand out?

I have known Vice President Biden for many years. What I have always admired about him is his optimism about America and the democratic world. He is the president we need at this difficult moment in our history.