Pelosi Remarks Before Meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece

Mar 09, 2010, 13:21 ET from Office of the Speaker of the House

WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press availability this morning with Prime Minister George Papandreou of Greece prior to their meeting in the Capitol. Below are their remarks:

Speaker Pelosi. Good morning. It is an honor indeed to welcome the Prime Minister of Greece to the Capitol of the United States.

As you know, we have many bonds between our countries, some ancient that we live by today, the roots of our democracy. Other bridges are the millions of Greek-Americans who strengthen our democracy with their values, with their work-ethic, with their commitment to faith and family and to community. They strengthen America, they strengthen our democracy.

And so, at this time, the month of March, where we observe Greek Independence Day and even in the United States, a little earlier this year, it is again, my distinct honor to welcome the Prime Minister.

I'm joined in welcoming the Prime Minister by the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Chairman Howard Berman of California, and the senior Republican on the Committee, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Again, the bond of our countries is a very strong one, and this month as we celebrate Greek Independence Day, our friendship remains strong, built on a commitment to values of freedom, pluralism, and equality— in both of our nations.

Greece is a strong partner in promoting stability and security in the world. We appreciate Greece sending troops to Afghanistan for the reconstruction there and to serve — allowing us to have a base there for soldiers traveling to Iraq. Not really having a base there, but that we can pass through Greece.

Prime Minister Papandreou is to be commended for his courage in responding to Greece's financial and economic challenges, and we want to learn more about that now here. He comes to the U.S. after a series of productive meetings with his European partners about ensuring that Greece will not be left alone during this crisis. The Greek people can be assured that the United States will stand with them at this critical time.

I look forward to a thoughtful and productive discussion. I have visited Greece many times, I have even visited our troops in Crete and, again, am grateful for the friendship between our two countries and now it's my honor to invite the Prime Minister of Greece to accept our welcome to the Capitol.

Mr. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Papandreou. Well, thank you, Ms. Speaker.

It's an honor to be here with you. It's an honor to be in this very, very historical place for democracy in the United States, but also a beacon of democracy for the world. And I cherish, as you mentioned, Nancy, the relationship between our two countries, a relationship built over many years. I'd like to pay tribute to the many Americans that, when we fought for our independence almost 200 years ago, there were many Americans that came over across the Atlantic and fought by our side for the freedom of Hellenism, for the freedom of Greece.

That just shows the bonds that we have. It shows the values we share. We have fought together in other difficult struggles for democracy and, of course, as you said, the Greek-American community is a very, very strong link between our two countries. We're proud that they continue to hold onto and cherish their cultural heritage. We're proud what they offer the United States by bringing in the Greek traditions from everything from restaurants to the philoxenia, as we say, the hospitality, and the hard-working competent people. But we're also happy by the fact, and proud, that they have done so well in American society in so many walks of life from academia to business, from culture to media, and, of course, in politics.

But I'm particularly happy, dear Speaker, because you represent California also, and I have grown up in California and therefore that just shows that I am also — have also been part of this Greek-American community. And I am very happy to meet with you to talk about the issues, as you mentioned, that of the crisis Greece just went through. I think we're moving out of it now, and I thank you for your solidarity and your support in our efforts to change Greece, make Greece even a more competitive, viable, and beautiful country — actually moving into a green economy. I know your president — President Obama has been talking about the "greening" of the economy, the change of the economy in the United States, and this is something that we are doing in Greece and we do hope to see you, of course, and many Americans come visit our country as we are transforming it into a country which will be a high quality tourist country.

So again, thank you for all the support you personally have given and for what you are doing in this relationship between Greece and the United States. Thank you again.

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, very much.

SOURCE Office of the Speaker of the House