Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Offensive language removed from Senate draft resolution on NATO expansion

Washington, D.C. By Apostolos Zoupaniotis in Greek news on line

Senator Robert Menendez was known as a strong supporter of Human Rights and the Rule of Law well before his election to the U.S. Senate, representing the State of New Jersey, home of many Greek Americans, who saw in him a good friend an supporter on the issues of Cyprus, Macedonia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. While he was seeking reelection in the Senate, Bob Menendez speaking to Greek American leaders during an event at the PSEKA Conference, promised them to continue doing the work of Senator Paul Sarbanes. His deeds proved his words. While continuing the pressure on Turkey, for both Cyprus and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, his continuous action on Macedonia put him on the top of the Philhellene politicians across the United States.Right after the Greek veto in Bucharest on Skopjeʼs NATO invitation, Menendez put on hold a Senate resolution introduced by Senator Voinovich. The resolution included 2 offensive paragraphs, in which “strong support” was expressed “for inviting the Republic of Macedonia to begin accession talks” and “for the timely completion of accession talks with all three countries in the Adriatic Charter to facilitate the accession process”.

After behind the doors negotiations between Menendez and Voinovich aides and the intervention of other Senators (among them Olympia Snowe), Senator Voinovich agreed to remove both objectionable paragraphs in the resolution.

The Senate Resolution was expected to be hot lined late on Friday, or Monday morning.
Menendez positions have made him a steady target of the so called “Macedonian lobby” of the Skopjians. Although outnumbered by the Greek Americans, the Skopjians of New Jersey (approximately 500 hundred) keep sending letters of protest to every member of Congress opposes the U.S. recognition of FYROM as “Republic of Macedonia”. Senator Menendezʼ office received many such letters of protest, including one entitled “Democrats, Down with the Oppressors?”, from Zoya Naskova vice president of the “Macedonian American Friendship Association”.

“In the current heady environment of election-year fervor, U.S. politicians may be tempted to sacrifice their strategic interests in the Balkans to seduce Greek-American votes. As Greeks are more numerous and affluent in the U.S., the Greek lobby is holding policies towards the region hostage. Sen. Obama and his colleagues, Senators Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, have sponsored the bizarre Senate Resolution 300, which is clearly just pandering to the Greek lobby and has nothing to do with American interests or foreign policy”, Ms Naskova states, calling on her compatriots t support the Republican Party.

How the Greek American Community reacts to that?
With the exception of the well organized Greek Cypriot Community, very few take the time to even thank those members of Congress who support us on the Macedonian issue.

Tasos Zambas, alternate President of the International Coordinating Committee “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA) and the person who introduced (then) Congressman Menendez to the Greek American Community expressed his disappointment, speaking to the GreekNews.
“As someone who is very closed to Senator Menendez I am very disappointed that he does not get the recognition he deserves, in regards to the Macedonian issue especially from our Macedonian brothers and sisters. I know for a fact the he is been getting a lot of mail from the pseudo-macedonians of NJ and across the US, but only a couple of letters from our community.

Is it so much to thank someone who is doing so much for the community?
Who stopped the resolution in the Senate last March?
Who stopped the resolution last week in the Senate?

Senator Menendez again and again. Isn't time to receive a few hundred thank you letters from us?

This is a challenge for the Greek community. His office fax is 973-645-0502 to the attention of Maria Almeida.”

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