The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) released a statement welcoming Vice President Joe Biden’s continued promotion of religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his ongoing engagement on U.S.-Cyprus relations as demonstrated in remarks made at the 42nd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, July 9, 2014.
“We congratulate Vice President Biden’s strong and straightforward support for religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his forthright position on Cyprus,” said AHI President Nick Larigakis.
“The Vice President’s remarks at the Clergy-Laity Congress demonstrated his active engagement on these issues by raising them in conversations with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. We also applaud his public position that Turkish troops should be removed from Cyprus.”
In his remarks, Vice President Biden conveyed unequivocal support for the right of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate to control its destiny, free of any government influence.
On Cyprus, the Vice President said: “The matter of the fact is that the Government of Turkey, in my view, is coming to understand, not for any noble reasons, but for practical reasons, that the status quo on the island does not benefit them economically, militarily and politically. And there is significant potential benefit for Turkey in a bizonal, bicommunal federation.”
Biden continued as he reflected on his May visit to Cyprus: “I opened up and made the U.S. position clear, that although it was a Cypriot negotiation, there was, is and can only be one government, one Cypriot, Greek-Cypriot government, with no Turkish troops on the island.”
AHI noted that “we would like to see additional signs that the Vice President’s statements are indeed the policy of the administration as well as signs that Turkey will cease its intransigence on these issues and play a constructive role. ”
“In this regard, the United States government must continue to put pressure on Turkey, and we must do our part as a community to remind policymakers of Vice President’s Biden’s encouraging remarks.”
Biden also spoke about the United States’ support for Greece during the latter’s economic crisis and the ways the two NATO allies cooperate on security measures.
Watch the full speech by US Vice-President Biden below:
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and within the Greek-American community.