CLOSE
Loading...
13° Nicosia,
11 December, 2018
 
Home  /  Comment  /  Opinion

George H.W. Bush and his approach to Greece

George H.W. Bush showed a great deal of interest in issues related to Greece

Athanasios Ellis

Athanasios Ellis

US president George H.W. Bush, who passed away last Saturday, left a rather positive mark on America’s relations with Greece, thanks to the way he approached the major issues that concern this country.

There was, of course, the somewhat negative taste left by the presidential elections of 1988, when Bush’s campaign went all out against his Democratic rival, Greek American Michael Dukakis, with mudslinging and false accusations. From images of an ostensibly polluted Boston Harbor to those of convicted rapist and murderer Willie Horton leaving prison on furlough – when he committed new crimes – Bush’s political ads marred the image of his rival, who was indeed a moral politician and a successful governor, shifted the tide of public opinion, and put the presidency out of Dukakis’s reach. Just two months before the elections, Dukakis had a 17-point lead over his Republican opponent but ended up losing by a difference of eight percent.

The apology made to Dukakis by the man behind Bush’s dirty campaign, Lee Atwater, shortly before the latter died of cancer, may have granted him some moral satisfaction, but it did not reverse the damage.

Nevertheless, besides the bitterness generated as a result of this campaign, as president, George H.W. Bush showed a great deal of interest in issues related to Greece. He developed a close personal relationship with the then prime minister of Greece, Constantine Mitsotakis, and also with Archbishop of North and South America Iakovos, who kept the lines of communication open with Bush thanks to his decision to appear and pray at the Republican convention that nominated the late president.

Bush visited Greece, supported the country’s sovereign rights in the Aegean, pushed for a solution to the Cyprus issue and refused to recognize Skopje as the “Republic of Macedonia.”

On the Cyprus issue, he took advantage of the presence of Mitsotakis and Giorgos Vassileiou at the helm of Greece and Cyprus to pressure Ankara for a solution, but the effort fell apart after the then Turkish prime minister, Mesut Yilmaz, did not prove up to the task.

On the issue of FYROM, the personal relationship between Mitskotakis and Iakovos with the American president was successfully mobilized in December 1992 during the transition to the Bill Clinton administration to stop recognition of Skopje by the US.

All in all, in terms of dealing with the issues that were, and still are, important to Greece, George H.W. Bush’s approach can be characterized as rather positive.

TAGS
Greece  |  Cyprus  |  Bush  |  US

Opinion: Latest Articles

Oblivious to danger

Oblivious to danger

Greece has never had the culture of consensus found in northern Europe
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Two worlds in conflict

Two worlds in conflict

If the next government cannot get the wagon out of the mud, we will be scraping the bottom of the barrel for a very long ...
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Radical change in our region

Radical change in our region

The relations of Greece and Cyprus with Israel were basically the key catalyst for recent developments
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Andreas Paraschos writes about the failure of old parties to react to the rise of a dangerous populism

Democracy or nightmare

Old parties are no match for new populism, an alternative to failed politics with a hidden past
Andreas Paraschos
 |  OPINION
The end of political totems

The end of political totems

Greece is a country with serious institutional problems that every so often grow to existential proportions
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
Persuasion and force

Persuasion and force

The past few years have passed as though we had all taken a big dose of some sedative
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION
With Israel in Washington

With Israel in Washington

Cyprus not only enjoys Washington’s blessing but also the backing of the strong American Jewish community
Athanasios Ellis
 |  OPINION
Ticking bombs

Ticking bombs

All Greek prime ministers have to prove that they have the skills of a political bomb-disposal expert
Alexis Papachelas
 |  OPINION