- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The conservative government in Greece says it looks forward to “a new chapter” in relations with the United States after a visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis.

Officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Mr. Molyviatis during a meeting late last month that she considers Greece to be America’s “best friend in the Balkans” and they expect that to translate into greater input into U.S. foreign policy planning.

The Greeks also perceive a chill in U.S. relations with their longtime rival Turkey because of an intense anti-American campaign in the Turkish press.

Turkey resents what it sees as American support for Kurdish nationalists and generally opposes U.S. policies in Iraq.

In reporting recent developments, the Greek press said the Bush administration has been reassessing its attitude toward Turkey.

According to the conservative Athens daily Kathimerini, “The Bush administration’s love affair with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s moderately Islamist establishment has turned sour amid rising anti-Americanism in Turkey and subsequent frustration in the United States.”

Some Western analysts have described Mr. Erdogan as being under a strain, and said, “His image is losing its gloss.” Last week, Turkey abruptly postponed the application of a new penal code that severely would have limited the functioning of the press, citing “technical considerations.”

Greek officials, meanwhile, expect considerable improvement in Greek-U.S. relations, pointing out that during the recent talks in Washington “the Americans adroitly avoided raising any issues that might sour the atmosphere.”

Previous meetings have been troubled by U.S. complaints about inadequate Greek anti-terrorist measures.

According to the Greek press, the Washington visit established a “warm personal relationship” between Miss Rice and Mr. Molyviatis, prompting hopes for closer future cooperation.

Official Greek sources said the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is prepared to adapt itself “as far as possible” to U.S. foreign policy objectives in the Balkans and in the Middle East.

Mr. Molyviatis praised “the American initiative to foster and encourage the expansion of democracy and freedom in the world.”

In talks with Miss Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Molyviatis apparently also conveyed a message from Greek-Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who opposes further involvement “by foreigners” in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

Political contacts between the two Cypriot communities have been suspended since the Greek-Cypriot rejection last year of the latest United Nations’ plan to end the division of the east Mediterranean island.

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