DIASPORA

Biden’s candidacy for US president positive for Greece, Cyprus

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Former US vice president Joe Biden is already leading by a wide margin over other contenders for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidency. National opinion polls carried out in recent days, after the announcement of his candidacy, show him with around 40 percent support, making Biden the current favorite. All other candidates are lagging considerably. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren top the rest of the group with around 15 percent each.

If the former vice president manages to convince voters who hesitate to side with him because of his age – when the elections are held in 18 months’ time, he will be 78 years old – he will be able to consolidate a lead that will not be easily reversed. However, the past has some rather worrying messages for Biden, as he has unsuccessfully run for president twice before, in 1988 and 2008.

As far as Greece and Cyprus are concerned, meanwhile, Biden’s presidential nomination is a positive development for the Greek world. The former vice president is one of the closest friends of the Greek-American diaspora. He maintains personal friendships with many Greeks and Cypriots living in the US and has repeatedly demonstrated his keen personal interest in the issues that concern the two countries and their people.

He served on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee for several years – also as its chairman – and has an excellent knowledge of international developments. He is also knowledgeable of the particularities of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as Greece and Cyprus’ roles in the wider region.

His relationship to the Greek world is sincere. I remember him at a gathering of Greek Americans in Congress, a decade or so ago, delivering an emotional speech in which he acknowledged the support of the community and stated that he will always be on its side.

Remarking on his previous effort to win the Democratic nomination in 1988 – which eventually went to Michael Dukakis – Biden told the diaspora representatives that he would never forget the moment they told him that even though they would obviously be supporting Dukakis, they would also do whatever they could to support him. Specifically, he noted a promise that for every 5 dollars raised for Dukakis, they would raise 1 for him. No diaspora community does such a thing easily, he told them, adding that it was a gesture he would never forget.

Americans go to the polls in 18 months. It is still very early in the race. Many things can change – and they certainly will. Besides, with Biden leading in public opinion polls, he is expected to become the target of criticism.

For the time being, we acknowledge the importance of seeing a politician – who has demonstrated that he is positively inclined towards Greece and Cyprus from different senior positions of power in the last few decades – in the running for the top job in the US.