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GreekReporter.comGreeceU.S. Will Close Consulate In Thessaloniki

U.S. Will Close Consulate In Thessaloniki

usa consThe U.S. has decided to permanently close its consular offices in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, as part of government budget cuts, the outgoing Consul-General Marsha Lance said during a meeting held in Katerini, at the Conference Centre of the municipality.
The Consul said that the closing will take place on May 31, and that people needing consulate service will have to contact the American Embassy in Athens.
The first recommendation for the closure was made by the Inspector General of the State Department in a report in March 2011. Lance said she understood the worries of those who depended on the office but said there was nothing that could be done to change the decision.
The consul is located in a new commercial office building at 43 Tsimiski Street in the city center. The Consulate is headed by the Consul General, an American Deputy Principal, who also serves as Political Officer and Consul, along with an American administrative assistant, and employs local hire individuals whose expertise includes administration, public diplomacy, IT systems, political affairs, maintenance, and security. Robert P. Sanders is the 21st Principal Officer as of September 2012.
Though the exact details concerning the establishment of a consulate in Thessaloniki are sparse, it was begun at the end of the occupation of the Ottoman Empire, as early as the 1830’s, to represent American shipping interests in the northern Aegean Sea. A Thessalonian named Pericles Hadji Lazzaro later became the first honorary American consular agent in 1870.
On June 10, 1908 the agency was upgraded to a Consulate status, at which time Evan E. Young was appointed as the first American Consul. Between 1910 and 1911, George Horton represented the US Consul at Salonika. During the period of time leading up to World War I, the Consulate played a mostly commercial and representational role in Thessaloniki due to the lack of visa requirements for U.S. travel and due to the small number of Americans both living in and passing through the city.
During the post World War II years the Consulate transformed its role in Thessaloniki, reflecting the evolving relationship between America and Greece. The Consulate supported the restoration efforts of the American Farm School and Anatolia College, both of which had been used as headquarters of the German forces. At this time, Greece was recovering from the devastation of the Second World War and, as the British were not in a position to help, the U.S. filled the void through both the Truman Doctrine and the closely related Marshall Plan, supporting Greece with roughly $300 million in military and economic aid.
In 1952, the Consulate was elevated to the rank of Consulate General and, over the next decade, a strong relationship developed between Thessalonians and the Consulate. During the 1960s the Consulate began working with an increasing American business presence in the city which accompanied the Greek Economic Miracle. The Consulate also engaged in sensitive border issues involving Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Albania.
The 1967 Greek military junta coup and the Cyprus Crisis damaged the American image across Greece. Thus, during the 1970s, the Consulate began to focus more on improving public relations through an active outreach program to neighboring provincial cities in northern Greece. This decade was a hectic one for the Consulate General as it dealt with several drug trafficking cases originating in the Middle East and Africa. The former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Dimitri Negroponte, served at the post from 1975-1977.

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