(House of Representatives - March 25, 1999)

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[Pages H1784-H1789]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                         GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I rise proudly to celebrate Greek 
Independence Day, an event which marked the symbolic rebirth of 
  On March 25, 1821, Greece finally rebelled against more than four 
hundred years of Turkish oppression. The revolution of 1821 brought 
independence to Greece and emboldened those who still sought freedom 
across the world. I commemorate Greek Independence Day each year for 
the same reasons we celebrate our fourth of July. It proved that a 
united people, through sheer will and perseverence, can prevail against 
tyranny. The lessons the Greeks and our colonial forefathers taught us 
provide strength to victims of persecution throughout the world today.
  The Greek people, like our colonists, sought the right to govern 
themselves and determine their country's destiny. In drafting our 
constitution, American colonial leaders cited Greek and Roman sources. 
The very basis of our constitution derives from Aristotle and was put 
into practice in ancient Rome. Our Founding Fathers emulated the 
efforts of the ancient Greeks in order to establish a balance of 
powers. The framers sought to avoid the disintegration of government 
which marked other political systems throughout history. Polybius, an 
ancient Greek, wrote: ``when one part, having grown out of proportion 
to the others, aims at supremacy and tends to become too dominant, none 
of the three is absolute.''
  And so, today, we celebrate the independence of Greece and the 
principles of democracy that have endured through the present day.
  By honoring the Greek struggle for independence, we reaffirm the 
values and ideas that make our nation great. We also remember why 
freedom is so important. Abraham Lincoln said ``what has once happened 
will invariably happen again, when the same circumstances which 
combined to produce it, shall again combine in the same way.''
  I want to provide some background on Greek Independence Day for the 
benefit of our colleagues who are not familiar with it. The war of 
independence, as many call it, began on March 25, 1821. Alexander 
Ypsilantis and 4,500 volunteers assembled near the Russian border to 
launch an insurrection against four centuries of Ottoman rule. The 
Turkish army initially massacred the Greek volunteers, who were poorly 
organized and insufficiently armed.
  When news of Greek uprisings spread, the Turks killed Greek 
clergymen, clerics, and laity in a frigtening display of force. In a 
vicious act of vengeance in 1822, the Turks invaded the island of Chios 
and slaughtered 25,000 of the local residents. The invaders enslaved 
half the island's population of 100,000.
  Although the Greeks lacked training, their leaders redoubled efforts 
to gain independence. ``Eleftheria I thanatos''--liberty or death--
became the Greek patriots' battle cry. Although many died, they were 
undeterred from their ultimate goal.
  Many acts of heroism fill this history of the Greek war for 
independence. I would like to share some of these stories with you. 
Theodoros Kolokotronis was the leader of the Klephts, resilient Greeks 
who refused to submit to Turkish domination. The Klephts attacked from 
their mountain strongholds by surprise, battering their oppressors into 
submission. Kolokotronis assembled an army of 7,000 men who prevented 
their rivals from replenishing their provisions.
  Another great battle took place near Corinth. After a few weeks, the 
Turks were eventually defeated. Kolokotronis was successful because 
ordinary citizens displayed extraordinary courage and morale. Despite 
the odds, Kolokotronis managed to capture Tripolitsa and engineer the 
Greek victory over the Turkish army of Dramali, which had invaded the 
Peloponnese with 30,000 men.
  Another wave of rebellion against Turkish oppression was ignited by 
the Suliotes, villagers who took refuge from Turkish authorities in the 
mountains of Epirus. The fiercely patriotic Suliotes bravely fought the 
Turks in several battles. News of their victories spread throughout the 
region and encouraged other villages to revolt. When the Suliote women, 
left alone, learned that Turkish troops were fast approaching their 
village, they began to dance the ``Syrtos,'' a patriotic Greek dance. 
One by one, they committed suicide by throwing themselves and their 
children off Mount Zalongo. They chose to die rather than surrender and 
face slavery.
  I recount these stories because they underscore Greece's absolute 
commitment to independence. As we all know, the price of liberty can be 
very high . . . hundreds of thousands of lives. Socrates, Plato, 
Pericles, and many other great minds throughout history warned that we 
maintain democracy only at great cost. The freedom we enjoy today is 
due to the sacrifices made by men and women in the past.

[[Page H1785]]

  To continue living freely, we must also live responsibly. If people 
are to govern themselves democratically, then they must also govern 
themselves responsibly. The same holds true for nations. If not, either 
anarchy or tyranny will follow.
  Even as we speak, tensions persist around the globe, particularly 
between Greece and Turkey. One cannot enjoy the fruit of freedom 
without first planting the seeds of peace. Unfortunately, the struggle 
for peace continues in the republic of Cyprus today.
  Turkey still illegally occupies a large part of Cyprus, as it has 
since its brutal invasion--code named ``Attila''--in 1974. Since the 
invasion, 1,614 Greek-Cypriots and five Americans have been missing. 
Because of congressional influence, our government discovered the 
remains of one of these Americans--a young boy, Andrew Kasapis, last 
  Free people everywhere share a moral obligation to promote democracy 
and end oppression. The United States has exerted its influence to 
promote peace in the middle east and northern Ireland. Now it is time 
to do the same in Cyprus.
  The United States cannot be the world's policeman, but we must help 
others who share our passion for liberty and peace. Our nation has 
always been willing to fight for freedom for others. We must not--and 
cannot--remain idle while Cyprus remains divided.
  The U.S. did not remain neutral when imperialism shook Europe's 
foundations during world war I. The U.S. did not fail to act when the 
clouds of German and Japanese atrocity descended upon the world during 
world war II. Throughout the history of the United States, we have 
answered freedom's call. As the leader of the free world, our nation 
must continue to actively oppose tyranny.
  Finding a fair resolution for Cyprus will help stabilize a region 
marked more often by conflict than accord. Turkey continues to refute 
U.N. resolutions on Cyprus. Turkey's position contradicts the goals of 
seeking a peaceful solution in the island republic.
  In the Aegean, Turkey more recently violated international law by 
claiming territorial ownership of the Grecian islet of Imia. Turkey 
blatantly disregarded previous treaties which clearly recognize 
Greece's sovereignty over Imia. Tensions between Greece and Turkey on 
this matter continue today. I have joined Congressman Pallone in 
introducing legislation expressing the sense of congress that Imia is a 
sovereign territory of Greece under international law.
  Turkey also has failed to properly protect the ecumenical 
patriarchate in Istanbul. In 1997, his all holiness, Patriarch 
Bartholomew, graced the congress with his visit here. The Patriarch is 
the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, 
including five million Americans. He was honored by the Congress, which 
awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal. It is important to remember 
that while the Patriarch spreads his message of peace throughout the 
entire world, the ecumenical patriarchate in Istanbul has been 
repeatedly subjected to terrorist attacks. My legislation urging the 
U.S. government to provide protection to the Patriarchate and its 
personnel became law last year. Unfortunately, the administration has 
failed to convince Turkey that we are serious about this matter.
  Our nation has the influence to encourage Turkey to abide by 
international law and to respect Greek sovereignty. I only hope we have 
the corresponding will. To continue to permit aggression against Greece 
and Cyprus dishonors the legacy of Greek independence and the values we 
hold so dear.
  Mr. Speaker, we celebrate Greek independence to reaffirm the common 
democratic heritage we share. Greek Independence Day, like the Fourth 
of July, reminds us that we have the duty to defend liberty--whatever 
the cost. To maintain our freedom, we can take neither it nor its 
architects for granted. That is why we honor those who secured 
independence for Greece so many years ago.
  Mr. McNULTY. Mr. Speaker, the American people join with the people of 
Greece in celebrating the 178th anniversary of the revolution that 
freed the Greek people from the Ottoman Empire.
  The bedrock of our close relationship with Greece is our mutual 
devotion to freedom and democracy and our unshakable determination to 
fight, if need be, to protect these rights. Greek philosophers and 
political leaders--Cleisthenes and Pericles and their successors--had 
great influence upon America's Founding Fathers in their creation of 
these United States.
  We, as a nation, owe a great debt to Greece. ``To the ancient 
Greeks,'' Thomas Jefferson said, ``we are all indebted for the light 
which led ourselves (American colonists) out of Gothic darkness.''
  Greece is the birthplace of American democracy. We will always 
remember the words of Pericles:

       Our administration favors the many instead of the few: this 
     is why it is called a democracy. The laws afford equal 
     justice to all alike in their private disputes, but we do not 
     ignore the claims of excellence. When a citizen distinguishes 
     himself, then he will be called to serve the state, in 
     preference to others, not as a matter of privilege, but as a 
     reward of merit; and poverty is no bar.

  Democracy has been called the fastest growing form of government in 
the world. As we prepare to enter the 21st century, an increasing 
number of countries are throwing off the yoke of dictatorship and 
evolving into fledgling democracies.
  In a broad sense the English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley declared: 
``We are all Greeks! Our laws, our literature, our religion, our art, 
have their roots in Greece.''
  I congratulate the people of Greece and wish them a Happy National 
  Mr. VISCLOSKY. I join my colleagues today to recognize the 178th 
anniversary of Greek Independence Day. As the U.S. Representative of a 
region with over 5,000 people of Greek descent, I know that this 
important event will be joyously celebrated throughout Northwest 
  I would like to honor not only this important day in Greek history, 
but the strong and unique relationship that exists today between the 
United States and Greece. The development of modern democracy has its 
roots in ancient Athens. The writings of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and 
others were the first to espouse the basic tenets of a government of 
the people and by the people. While these ideals were not always 
followed in ancient Greece, these writings provided a roadmap for later 
governments in their attempts to establish democracy in their 
  The Founding Fathers of the United States were particularly 
influenced by the writings of the ancient Greeks on democracy. A 
careful reading of ``The Federalist Papers'' reveals the significant 
part the early Greeks played in the formation of our government. Thomas 
Jefferson called upon his studies of the Greek tradition of democracy 
when he drafted the Declaration of Independence, espousing the ideals 
of a government representative of and accountable to the people. 
Decades later, these ideas were a catalyst in the Greek uprising and 
successful independence movement against the Ottoman Empire--the event 
we celebrate today.
  On March 25, 1821, the Archbishop of Patros blessed the Greek flag at 
the Aghia Laura monastery, marking the proclamation of Greek 
independence. It took eleven years for the Greeks to finally defeat the 
Ottomans and gain their true independence. After this long struggle 
against an oppressive regime, Greece returned to the democratic ideals 
that its ancestors had developed centuries before.
  Today, this country's relationship with Greece is as strong as ever. 
Greece has been our ardent supporter in every major international 
conflict of this century, and they play an important role in the North 
Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Greece is also a 
key participant in the United Nations peacekeeping force in Bosnia, 
providing troops and supplies. In turn, the United States has worked to 
attain a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Cyprus, the island 
nation that was brutally invaded by Turkey in 1974.
  Mr. Speaker, I would thank our colleagues, Mr. Bilirakis and Mrs. 
Maloney, for organizing this Special Order, and I join all of our House 
colleagues in recognizing Greek Independence Day. I salute the spirit 
of democracy and family that distinguish the Greek people, as well as 
their courage in breaking the bonds of oppression 178 years ago. I look 
forward to may more years of cooperation and friendship between our two 
  Mr. COYNE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join in this special order 
commemorating Greek Independence Day. Congress recognizes Greek 
Independence Day each year because the struggle of the Greek people to 
win their freedom was an inspirational epic worthy of commemoration by 
all free people.
  Americans, whose forbearers had to fight for their own freedom in the 
1700s, have always been sympathetic to oppressed people around the 
world who fight to win their independence. Many Americans supported the 
struggles of the people of Central and South America to throw off the 
yoke of imperial Spain in the 1800s, for example. Americans in recent 
times have supported the efforts of the people of Eastern Europe and 
the Soviet Union to end their domination by that evil empire. And the 
united States strongly supported the movement to end colonial rule in 
the wake of World War II. Consequently, it should come as no surprise 
that many Americans supported the struggle of the Greek people when, in 
1821, they undertook to free themselves and their lands from the rule 
of the Ottoman Empire.
  The war for Greek Independence lasted nearly ten years, and many 
lives were lost. In the end, however, the Greek people won their 
freedom and established an independent nation. The Greek people's 
struggle was a popular cause in the United States not just because it 
echoed our own relatively recent

[[Page H1786]]

struggle against an imperial power, but because Americans educated in 
the classics associated Greece with its heritage as the ancient 
birthplace of democracy and western culture.
  Greece today is a trusted and valued ally of the United States, and 
many people of Greek ancestry are hardworking, productive American 
citizens. I am pleased to join my colleagues and our country's Greek-
American citizens in celebrating Greek Independence Day.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise on the floor of 
this chamber of American democracy in honor of Greek Independence Day.
  Today we are marking the 178th anniversary of the beginning of the 
revolution that freed the Greek people from the Turkish Ottoman Empire 
and the 51st anniversary since the Greek people regained their 
independence after Nazi occupation in World War II.
  This is a day that rings with the bells of liberty, the songs of 
freedom, and the choirs of democracy.
  All the world looks to Greece as the fountain and inspiration for 
every modern-day democracy, including our own.
  Greece is one of only three nations, beyond the former British 
Empire, that has been allied with the United States in every major 
international conflict this century. Over 600,000 Greeks died fighting 
on the side of the Allies in World War II and in the civil war that 
followed--that's nine percent of the entire population of Greece at 
that time.
  During the early 1900s, one in every four Greek males between the 
ages of 15 and 45 departed for the United States, the ``founding 
fathers,'' if you will, of today's very successful Greek-American 
community. According to U.S. census data, the first Greeks who became 
U.S. citizens ranked only 18th of the 24 nationalities in education 
attainment. Their children, however, leapt to the top by 1970 to rank 
number one among American ethnic nationalities.
  Among those Greek-Americans who have made major contributions to our 
national and international life are Dr. George Papnicolaou, who 
invented the Pap test for cancer; Dr. George Korzias, who developed L-
dopa to combat Parkinson's disease; Maria Callas, the Brooklyn-born 
soprano, considered the greatest opera diva of all time; and Pete 
Sampras, the number one tennis player in the world for the past several 
  I also want to honor the contributions made by Greek-Americans in my 
own district in central Massachusetts. Since the turn of the century, 
over 5,000 Greek men, women and children have made Worcester, 
Massachusetts their home. Greek-Americans like Mrs. Katherine Singas, 
the owner of Worcester House of Pizza, and retired high school 
principal Christopher Dionis have contributed significantly to all 
aspects of civic life and community affairs.
  The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Spyridon in Worcester, under the 
leadership of Father Dean Paleologos, reminds us of this vibrant Greek-
American community. In Worcester, this important day is celebrated by 
teaching children to recite poetry and songs commemorating their past 
and their heritage. Discussion groups are held to honor the memory and 
history of the heroic deeds and patriotism of the Greek and Greek-
American men and women who fought and died for the freedom I and my 
constituents enjoy today.
  Similar celebrations are held throughout my district--in Fall River 
and Dartmouth, in Attleboro and Seekonk.
  No one standing on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives can 
fail to honor the contributions of Greece to American democracy, 
freedom, literature and philosophy. Throughout this Capitol and this 
city, everywhere you might look, you will see homage to Greek ideas and 
ideals. They are engraved on our buildings, enshrined in our laws, and 
they surely influenced the minds and hearts of the men and women who 
founded this nation.
  Greece is enjoying a new era of prosperity and looking forward to 
joining the European Economic and Monetary Union by January 1, 2001. 
The most recent report of the organization for Economic Cooperation and 
Development (OECD) issued in Paris on January 14, 1999, concludes that 
``thanks to continuous efforts in recent years, the target date seems 
to be feasible for Greece.'' And like many of my House colleagues, I am 
looking forward to the 2004 Olympic Games, which will return to their 
home in Greece for the first time in 108 years. I'm sure that the 
Athens Games will help heal the wounds of the current scandals 
affecting the International Olympic Committee.
  I want to thank the gentleman from Florida [Mr. Michael Bilirakis]--a 
fine example of the contribution Greek heritage continues to make to 
American democracy--and to the gentlelady from New York [Mrs. Carolyn 
Maloney] for organizing this special order on this historic occasion.
  I would like to remind them that, if Massachusetts would have had its 
way, we might have had two Greek-Americans as President of the United 
States. And so I thank them for their leadership of the Hellenic Caucus 
and for all their fine efforts to educate and involve other Members on 
the issues challenging Greek and U.S policy today.
  Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Speaker, today, I wish to celebrate 
an important day in Greek history, the 178th anniversary of Greece's 
independence. I wish to thank my colleagues from Florida and New York 
for taking the initiative to organize this special order to honor 
Greece on this important day and for organizing the Congressional 
Caucus on Hellenic Issues. I am pleased to be part each year of this 
organized and concerted effort to speak out on those issues which are 
important to Greece, Cyprus, and our constituents of Hellenic descent.
  Greek and American history are closely linked. Both nations owe a 
large part of their national identity today, to the influence of the 
other in the past. When Thomas Jefferson was writing the Declaration of 
Independence and our founding fathers were writing our Constitution, 
they drew upon the work of Greek scholars and philosophers. Indeed, our 
system of Democracy could never have existed without the influence of 
these ancient Greek scholars. Similarly, Greece looked to the United 
States and the American Revolution as a point of inspiration when it 
began its struggle for independence on March 25, 1821.
  Furthermore, modern Greek culture has become a vital part of the 
culture of the United States through the entrance of Greek immigrants 
into the United States. Their hard work has made a tremendous impact on 
their communities. In my own state of Rhode Island, there are 
incredibly strong and productive Greek communities in Providence, 
Pawtucket, and Newport. In these cities, Greek immigrants built 
businesses, neighborhoods, churches, schools, and raised families. Our 
country is richer because of all that communities such as these have 
  Because of the influence of Ancient Greece upon our founding fathers, 
the contributions of Greek immigrants to American culture, and the 
American influence of a Greece's struggle of independence, it is quite 
fitting that we celebrate the anniversary of Greece's independence. 
Again, I thank my colleagues for all their hard work in making this 
Special Order possible and look forward to further work with the 
Hellenic Caucus.
  Ms. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 178th 
anniversary of Greece's independence from the Ottoman Empire, and to 
celebrate the shared democratic heritage of Greece and the United 
States. I thank Congressman Bilirakis and Congresswoman Maloney for 
organizing this special order and for their leadership on issues of 
importance to the Greek-American community.
  On March 25, 1821, after more than 400 years of Ottoman Turk 
domination, Greece declared its independence and resumed its rightful 
place in the world as a beacon of democracy.
  The people of Greece and the United States share a common bond in 
their commitment to democracy. Our Founding Fathers looked to the 
teachings of Greek philosophy in their struggle for freedom and 
democracy. And the American experience in turn inspired the Greek 
people who fought so hard for independence 176 years ago.
  This bond between our two peoples stretches beyond the philosophy of 
democracy. The relationship between the U.S. and Greece has grown 
stronger and stronger through the years, and Greece remains today one 
of our most important allies.
  And the contribution Greece makes to life in America is even stronger 
than the ties between our two countries. Greek-Americans are a vital 
part of our cultural heritage. My district in New York would not be 
what it is today without the valuable contributions made by the Greek-
American community.
  I am proud to stand today in commemoration of Greek independence and 
in recognition of the contribution Greece and Greek-Americans have made 
to our country.
  Mr. TIERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Greek Independence 
Day. A a member of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, I join 
my colleagues in saluting the strong and enduring ties between the 
United States and Greece.
  The link between our two great nations stretches back to the very 
beginning of the United States' days as an independent nation. Our 
founding fathers, recognizing the compelling example set by Greece's 
experience with democracy, were inspired by the writings of the ancient 
Greek philosophers. Indeed, our own experiment with democracy has 
proven successful to a large extent because of what we learned from the 
Greeks. The Greek influence can be seen throughout our society even as 
we gaze upon the architecture of this great building in which we serve.
  Today, as we rise in tribute to the 178th anniversary of the 
beginning of Greece's struggle for independence, we are reminded of the 
importance of maintaining strong ties with

[[Page H1787]]

Greece and its people. As a member of NATO, Greece has shown a 
commitment to the same values of international peace and security to 
which the United States aspires.
  One of the great men from my home state of Massachusetts was Charles 
Eliot Norton. Norton, a professor at Harvard, was devoted to 
strengthening the ties between Greece and the United States. In 1879, 
he founded the Archaeological Institute of America, in an effort to 
foster greater appreciation of the treasures of Greek history. As 
Norton said, ``A knowledge of Greek thought and life, and of the arts 
in which the Greeks expressed their thought and sentiment, is essential 
to high culture. A man may know everything else, but without this 
knowledge he remains ignorant of the best intellectual and moral 
achievements of his own race.''
  These words are as true today as when Norton wrote them in 1885. The 
modern Greek nation continues to be an inspiration to the United States 
and the rest of the world. I look forward to joining in this weekend's 
related ceremonies in the Boston area, and I am pleased to be able to 
offer my congratulations to the people of Greece on this happy 
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of the 177th 
anniversary of Greek independence. There are, of course, no final 
victories in the long struggle to extend the principles of equality and 
democracy. Thus, we should take advantage of every appropriate 
opportunity to celebrate the triumphs of freedom over tyranny.
  In this spirit, our annual remembrance of the Greek delivery from 
Ottoman oppression merits special attention, for it was Aristotle 
himself who said, ``Democracy arises out of the notion that those who 
are equal in any respect are equal in all respects; because men are 
equally free, they claim to be absolutely equal.'' In effect, we 
celebrate the 177 years that have followed the redemption of 
Aristotle's ancient promise.
  As we listen to the urgent bulletins from the Balkans, we are 
reminded every day of the fragility of the ancient Greek ideal. 
Wherever tyranny and ethnic cleansing prevail, the principles of 
equality and democracy are under siege. Listen once again to the 
profound wisdom of Aristotle: ``If liberty and equality, as is thought 
by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best 
attained when all persons alike share in the government to the 
  On this day, let us remember how intimately intertwined are the 
histories of the United States and Greece. Look at the Declaration of 
Independence. Look at the Constitution of the United States. Look at 
the very architecture of our beautiful Capitol. Greek to the core, all 
of them. Indeed, Thomas Jefferson was quite explicit about our 
connectedness: ``To the ancient Greeks,'' declared our third President, 
``we are indebted for the light which led ourselves out of Gothic 
  In turn, America has opened its heart to multitudes of Greek 
immigrants and has, of course, reaped the rewards of that enlightened 
generosity. In San Francisco, certainly, we have reaped enormous 
benefits from the vibrant presence of our spirited Greek-American 
community. And Americans also responded with the Marshall Plan, 
immediately following World War II, to the plight of a seriously 
weakened and imperiled Greece.
  As we brood today over the darkening skies in the Balkan countries, 
we should pause for a moment to give thanks for the continuing 
relevance of ancient Greece and the continuing example of modern 
  Mr. DOYLE. Mr. Speaker, today marks a great anniversary for every 
Greek citizen and those who cherish Democracy and freedom worldwide. 
178 years ago on this date, courageous Greeks, determined to cast off 
the chains of oppression, rose up against the Ottoman Empire and firmly 
sounded the cry of freedom. It was fitting that the nation that gave 
the world the very concept of democracy was to be a free and sovereign 
land once again.
  Sadly, like all struggles for freedom, good people lose their lives 
striving to uphold what they believe. It is important that we as a 
democracy never forget the sacrifices of those brave individuals whose 
selfless sacrifices and dedication to democratic ideals gave us the 
freedoms and liberties we enjoy today.
  I salute those gallant Greeks who stood against oppression so many 
years ago today and with happiness and joy for Greek citizens 
  Mr. ACKERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am honored to rise to acknowledge and 
celebrate the 178th Greek Independence Day. This great day in Greek 
history commemorates the successful struggle of the Greek people for 
national sovereignty. It is no secret that the United States and Greece 
have shared a close relationship since Greece's independence. In fact, 
Greece is one of the very few countries in the world that has stood 
alongside the United States during every major conflict of this last 
  The United States shares many common threads with Greece, including a 
commitment to democracy, peace, and respect for human rights. I think 
it's safe to say that the Founding Fathers of Greece and the United 
States would be proud of the tremendous achievements of both nations as 
well as their closeness. The strong bond that is shared by these two 
countries is now approaching its third century, and as we rapidly 
approach the twenty-first century, I think its imperative that we 
recognize countries such as Greece that are eager to move into the next 
millennium hand-in-hand with the United States.
  Greek-Americans all around the country are celebrating this great day 
for their homeland. Parades, dances, songs and feasts will be occurring 
all over this country in celebration of Greek independence. The 
celebrations both here and in Greece will no doubt demonstrate the 
fortitude of its people. Throughout the past 200 years there have been 
repeated challenges to the independence of Greece, yet its people have 
stridently fought to maintain both their democracy and independence--
and the United States and its people have been proud to stand by her 
and provide strength, assistance and friendship to overcome those 
  I am pleased to have this opportunity to once again celebrate Greek 
culture and toast the Greek people. It is an honor to rise and 
commemorate the 178th Greek Independence Day. On this day we celebrate 
more than just Greece's independence, we celebrate Greece as a country 
and as a friend.
  Mr. WEYGAND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the 178th 
anniversary of Greek independence. This date marks the beginning in 
1821 of the successful revolution to restore the ideals of democracy to 
the Greek people after almost 400 years of oppression and persecution 
under the Ottoman Empire.
  One cannot stand in these chambers and participate in our system of 
representative democracy without recognizing the significant influence 
of the teachings of ancient Greek philosophers. In the words of Percy 
Bysshe Shelly, ``We are all Greeks! Our laws, our literature, our 
religion, our art, have their roots in Greece.'' Tragically, despite 
the democratic writings and dialogues of great thinkers like Aristotle, 
Plato, and Polybius, the Ottoman Empire ignored those inspirational 
principles of equality, freedom, and self rule, and stripped Greek 
citizens of their civil rights.
  Thankfully, freedom fighters in Greece prevailed and restored the 
principles and benefits of democracy to the Greek people. Much as 
ancient Greece influenced our founding fathers, so did the United 
States in its infancy inspire those rebels who struggled against the 
Ottoman rulers. In fact, Greek intellectuals translated the Declaration 
of Independence and used it as their own declaration.
  Since then, Greece has also battled and triumphed over the spread of 
Communism, losing nine percent of its own population in the process. 
Throughout all of this strife and upheaval, Greece has remained a 
staunch and loyal ally to the United States; furthermore, as President 
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, ``Greece asked no favor except the 
opportunity to stand for those rights which it believed, and it gave to 
the world an example of battle . . . a battle that thrilled the hearts 
of all free men and free women everywhere.''
  I congratulate Greece on this day marking its 178th anniversary of 
independence, and I applaud the Greek people for their constant 
devotion to and fierce protection of the democratic principles of 
equality, freedom, and self rule. Let us all look to their example as 
inspiration in the continuing fight to promote and expand democracy 
throughout the world.
  Mr. DEUTSCH. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Greece, a trusted 
ally and partner of the United States, on the occasion of Greek 
Independence Day, which will be celebrated on March 25th.
  It is especially fitting that we in the House of Representatives, the 
very embodiment of representative democracy, pay tribute to the 
accomplishments of a nation which gave us the gift of democracy and 
developed the concept of a government of the people, by the people, and 
for the people.
  Beginning with ancient Greece, the cradle of democracy, and extending 
all the way into modern times, the people of Greece have continued to 
give gifts of political philosophy, culture, and friendship to the 
world. The special relationship between the United States and Greece 
has been reinforced throughout our country's short history, from the 
emulation of ancient Greek democracy by our founding fathers to our 
steadfast alliance during every major international conflict in the 
20th century and our partnership in the North Atlantic Treaty 
  In tribute to Greece--our partner in times of war and peace, our 
reliable friend, and a nation which has, over the millennia, 
contributed key political and social principles to world society--I 
rise on the occasion of the 178th anniversary of the revolution which 
led to Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. For

[[Page H1788]]

the United States, this revolution was particularly auspicious, as it 
led to the creation of one of our most faithful allies.
  Mrs. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I am here with my colleagues 
to commemorate the 178th anniversary of Greek Independence Day which is 
a national day of celebration of Greek and American Democracy.
  While commemorative resolutions are no longer allowed in the House, 
there is support for Greek Independence Day. Every year since 1986, a 
resolution has been cosponsored by over 50 Senators and passed in the 
Senate. The President has once again signed a proclamation this year 
recognizing this as Greek Independence Day, and I would like to insert 
a copy of this in the Record.
  ``Our Constitution is called a democracy because power is in the 
hands not of a minority but of the whole people. When it is a question 
of settling private disputes, everyone is equal before the law; when it 
is a question of putting one person before another in positions of 
public responsibility, what counts is not a membership of a particular 
class, but the actual ability which the man possesses,'' This could 
have been written by Thomas Jefferson, but it was written by Pericles 
in an address made in Greece 2,000 years ago.
  Plato said, ``Democracy is a charming form of government, full of 
variety and disorder, and dispensing a kind of equality to equals and 
unequals alike.'' Isn't that a wonderful way to describe democracy?
  Thomas Jefferson once said, ``. . . to the ancient Greeks . . . we 
are all indebted for the light which led ourselves out of Gothic 
  Just as Greek ideas of democracy and individual liberties became the 
foundation of our government, the American Revolution became one of the 
ideals of the Greeks as they fought for their independence in the 
  Greek intellectuals translated the Declaration of Independence of the 
United States and used it as their own declaration.
  A Greek Commander in Chief (Petros Mavromichalis) appealed to the 
citizens of the United States, saying: ``Having formed the resolution 
to live or die for freedom, we are drawn toward you by a just sympathy 
since it is in your land that liberty has fixed her abode, and by you 
that she is prized as by our fathers. Hence, honoring her name, we 
invoke yours at the same time, trusting that in imitating you, we shall 
imitate our ancestors and be thought worthy of them if we succeed in 
resembling you . . . it is for you, citizens of America, to crown this 
glory . . .''
  Greece has been a long and trusted ally. In fact, they fought along 
side of us in every major international conflict this century.
  During the early 1900s, one of every four Greek males between the 
ages of 15 and 45 departed for the United States. And, I might add that 
many of them settled in Astoria, Queens which I am fortunate enough to 
represent. Astoria is one of the largest and most vibrant communities 
of Greek and Cypriot Americans in this country.
  It is truly one of my greatest pleasures as a Member of Congress to 
be able to participate in the life of this community, and the wonderful 
and vital Greek American friends that I have come to know are one of 
its greatest rewards.
  I have also had the pleasure of establishing the Congressional Caucus 
on Hellenic Issues with the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis. This 
caucus allows Members of the House to join together to find ways to 
work toward better United States-Greek and Cypriot relations.
  We are here today because 177 years ago today, the revolution which 
freed the Greek people from the Ottoman Empire began. Greece had 
remained under the Ottoman Empire for almost 400 years, and during this 
time the people were deprived of all civil rights.
  Many volunteers from various localities in the United States sailed 
to Greece to participate in Greece's war for independence.
  On this joyous occasion, we should also direct our attention to the 
island of Cyprus which, for 25 years now, has been striving for an end 
to its tragic division and the illegal Turkish occupation of 37 percent 
of its territory. Again, Cyprus is on the verge of becoming a 
flashpoint for regional conflict because of Turkey's hardline stance 
with unrealistic conditions to any peace talks.
  It is now time to reaffirm our commitment to a peaceful solution. We 
must use Cyprus's EU accession as an impetus for positive progress and 
not let Turkey use it as an excuse for heightened tensions.
  A positive contribution by Turkey to help resolve the situation in 
Cyprus would facilitate Turkey's aspirations to become a member of the 
European Union. We should use our influence in the region to help 
Turkey understand this.
  Hopefully, soon we will also celebrate Cyprus Day when once again the 
entire island will be united.
  However, the reason that we are here today is to celebrate the 178th 
anniversary of Greek Independence.
  Daniel Webster said of this time in Greek history, ``This [Greek] 
people, a people of intelligence, ingenuity, refinement, spirit, and 
enterprise, have been for centuries under the atrocious unparalleled 
Tartarian barbarism that ever oppressed the human race.''
  There has always been a special bond of friendship between our two 
countries, and I would like to leave you with a quote from Percy 
  ``We are all Greeks! Our laws, our literature, our religion, our art, 
have their roots in Greece.''
  Mr. CROWLEY. Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to 
mark the 178th anniversary of Greek independence from the Turkish 
Ottoman Empire. I would like to thank Congressman Bilirakis and 
Congresswoman Maloney for their steadfast leadership on Greek issues 
and for organizing this Special Order to recognize this historic event.
  Mr. Speaker, for over two centuries, the United States and Greece 
have enjoyed a strong and enduring relationship. During the Second 
World War, fighting alongside American troops, more than 600,000 Greek 
soldiers died fighting against the Axis powers illustrating Greece's 
strong commitment to the United States and freedom loving people 
everywhere. Today, Greece's commitment to peace and democracy 
throughout our world continues through their participation in NATO, 
modern history's most successful alliance.
  Our bonds are deeper still, however, for we are joined by blood, 
culture, and a profound commitment to shared values. Greek ideals of 
democracy and freedom inspired our Nation's founders and breathed life 
into America's experiment with democratic self-government. Generations 
of Greek Americans have enriched every aspect of our national life, in 
the arts, sciences, business, politics and sports. Through hard work, 
love of family and community, they have contributed greatly to the 
prosperity and peace that we all enjoy as Americans today.
  Mr. Speaker, I have the great honor of representing a number of 
Greek-Americans in the Seventh District of New York. Their influence 
and active participation in the life of their communities has fostered 
economic, political and social growth throughout New York City.
  But as we celebrate Greek independence, we must keep in mind the 
ongoing struggle for freedom and demand for human rights on the island 
of Cyprus.
  Turkey's tragic and illegal occupation of 37 percent of the island 
and continued unwillingness to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the 
crisis threatens to ignite renewed fighting on the island, which would 
be devastating to chances for a lasting peace. I believe the United 
States and the international community must remain steadfast in our 
resolve to bring peace and unity to an island that has been home to 
violence and division for far, far too long.
  In closing Mr. Speaker, let me reiterate my strong commitment to 
Greek communities in my district, the country, and throughout the 
world. Their strength and dedication to democracy and peace in the 
world has made them a shining star of modern civilization.
  Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentlemen from 
Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, and the gentlelady from New York, Ms. Maloney 
for organizing this Special Order to honor the 178th anniversary of 
Greece's independence. They are tireless in their promotion of close 
ties between the United States and Greece, and I have enjoyed working 
with them over the years to strengthen relations with one of America's 
greatest allies.
  I would like to begin by congratulating Greece and the Greek 
community in America for 178 years of independence. I would also like 
to reaffirm the special relationship the United States has with Greece.
  The issue I want to focus on tonight is Turkey's threat to use 
military force against Greece in response to the Ocalan affair. 
Settling differences with military force is an option to be used only 
as the last resort after all diplomatic channels have been exhausted. 
Turkey, however, seems to salivate at the prospect of a military 
confrontation with Greece. At every conceivable opportunity Ankara 
threatens Greece with the use of military force.
  Shortly before the Ocalan affair erupted, Turkey threatened to attack 
Greece if Greece deploys the defensive S-300 missile system in Crete. 
That deployment is scheduled as part of a gesture put forward by the 
Cypriot government to defuse tensions in Cyprus over the initial plan 
to deploy that system on Cyprus. I should also add that part of the 
Cypriot plan to defuse that crisis and move the peace process forward 
includes a reiteration of the standing offer to demilitarize the island 
accompanied by a new offer to pay for a peacekeeping force following 
the demilitarization. This peaceful proposal has to date been rejected 
by the Turks, who, as I say seem interested only in threatening to use 
force against Greece.
  As with all Turkish threats, the threat to use force in response to 
the Ocalan affair must be taken seriously. The endless stream of 

[[Page H1789]]

to use force by Ankara are destabilizing to the already tense 
Mediterranean region, to NATO and ultimately to all of Europe. They are 
also counter to US interests. In my view the United States government 
needs to be much more forceful in communicating to the Turks that these 
threats are unacceptable and that there will be severe consequences to 
US-Turkey relations if Ankara resorts to the use of military force.
  Many in Greece and the Greek community in the United States speculate 
that one of the reasons why Turkey has been issuing threats as of late 
is to spark another confrontation over sovereign Greek territory in the 
Aegean. ``A short military confrontation,'' observes a recent editorial 
in the GreekAmerican on Turkey's claims to Greek territory ``may be 
just the ticket.''

  Two years ago, Turkey was almost successful in sparking just such a 
confrontation over the Greek islets of Imia. The confrontation was 
avoided only after President Clinton personally intervened, but the 
issue is not resolved. Turkey continues to make unfounded claims of 
sovereignty over the islets of Imia. I am hopeful the Administration 
will be prepared to act swiftly should this issue again flare up. In 
order to keep it on the front burner, I introduced H Con Res 36 in 
February, which expresses the sense of Congress that the islets of Imia 
are sovereign territory under international law. It also states that 
Turkey should agree to bring this matter before the International Court 
of Justice at the Hague for a resolution.
  Again, I think it is important to keep examples like these in mind in 
the wake of the Ocalan affair and discount Turkey's attempt to slander 
Greece's commitment and readiness to resolve conflicts peacefully and 
in full accordance with international law. It is precisely this 
commitment to peace and democracy that we have must keep in mind as we 
celebrate 178 years of Greek independence. And I just want to point 
out, to its credit, the State Department has rejected Turkey's 
ridiculous assertion following Ocalan's capture that Greece supports 
  Before I conclude, Mr. Speaker, there is one last observation I want 
to make about the way the US government has handled the Ocalan affair. 
Notwithstanding its rejection of Turkey's propaganda regarding Greece, 
there are aspects of this case that are very troubling.
  The US government's role in helping the Turks capture Ocalan is well 
documented. What troubles me about the American government's role is 
its willingness to help the Turk's capture Ocalan knowing full well the 
chances he will receive a fair trial are slim to none. Already the 
Turks have refused to allow Ocalan's attorney's to defend him. Instead 
the Turkish courts appointed 15 lawyers to defend him, two of which 
recently resigned after receiving death threats. Unsurprisingly, the 
other 13 are also expected to resign. Ankara has also decided to bypass 
its regular court system and bring Ocalan before some kind of three-
judge tribunal with no jury and no foreign observers.
  The US government's claim that it was trying to upheld justice is 
specious at best. In turning Ocalan over to the Turks, the American 
government saw an opportunity to curry favor with Ankara. In my view, 
this was done in support of an inexplicable American policy toward 
Ankara that overlooks a myriad of unconscionable Turkish policies--most 
notably those involving Cyprus and Armenia--in exchange for continued 
access to Turkish military facilities and airspace.
  It is the willingness of the US government to ignore the notorious 
abuses and show trials in the Turkish judicial system that I find 
troubling. If the US government was truly interested in insuring 
justice be carried out in a fair manner, it should have helped deliver 
him to a court where fair judicial proceedings are the norm, such as 
the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
  With that, I once again congratulate Greece on the anniversary of its 
independence and thank my colleagues once again for holding this 
Special Order.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, this is an occasion for celebrating the 
strong ties and traditions that bind America with our friends in 
Greece. I commend the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis, the co-
chairman of our Hellenic Issues Caucus for his diligence in ensuring 
each year that the House mark this important day by way of a special 
order. In commemorating the 178th anniversary of the independence of 
Greece from the Ottoman overlords, we should bear in mind that it was 
to the practices and institutions of ancient Athens that our 
forefathers looked for an example and inspiration as they set in place 
the principles of democracy that have guided our great Nation and its 
  It was to our young nation, where the spirit of democracy was reborn 
in the modern era, that the people of Greece looked as they fought for 
and won their own independence in 1821.
  Today, we are preparing for a new round of strife in the Balkans that 
could very likely involve the armed forces of our own country. We note 
with gratitude the efforts made by the government of Greece in trying 
to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Kosovo. The leaders of 
Greece have made numerous trips to Belgrade in an effort to persuade 
Milosevic that he must yield to the demands of the international 
community and cease his brutal policies against the people of Kosovo. 
Greece is also in the forefront of those countries providing assistance 
to the government of Albania, helping to restore order to Albania's 
society after the civil strife that nearly destroyed the country 2 
years ago.
  Since 1821 when the people of Greece triumphed in their heroic fight 
for independence, the people of Greece and the United States of America 
have been as one in the struggle to promote and protect democratic 
freedoms and human rights around the world. Today, as we face new 
challenges to that tradition in the Balkans and elsewhere, we value our 
friends in Greece for their continued support and encouragement. 
Accordingly, I urge that our colleagues continue the effort to keep the 
mutual spirit of friendship thriving. Yasou. Efkaristo!
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Biggert). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran) is recognized for 5 
  (Mr. MORAN of Kansas addressed the House. His remarks will appear 
hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.)