Friends of Greece in the U. S. Senate Enabling tranfer to Greece
|of World War II American Liberty Ship

U.S. Ship that carried desperately-needed food to the Greek people following World War II to become a floating museum in Piraeus

The Greek Star

Washington, D.C.- Friends of Greece in the U.S. Senate secured the adoption of an amendment that will enable the transfer to Greece of a WWII American Liberty Ship, that will become a floating museum in Piraeus. The House/Senate Conference Committee, to which the amendment goes next, is expected to adopt it and President George W. Bush is expected to sign it into law late this summer,” said Andy Manatos, President of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH).

A World War II American Liberty Ship

Symbolizing the historic and preeminent bond between the US and Greece, Liberty Ships carried desperately-needed food to the Greek people following WWII. The percentage of Greek civilians, who died during WWII, mostly from starvation, was ten times that of Japan even after the atomic bomb. As well, it was 250 American Liberty Ships purchased by enterprising Greeks, like Aristotle Onassis who bought 16, which began Greece rise to its paramount position today -- carrying 25% of fuel and products to the United States and the rest of the world,” said Andrew A. Athens chairman of CEH, the World Council of Hellenes and a WWII veteran.

“Numerous friends of Greece are responsible for this development. Hellenic U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and her staff have worked on this issue for many months and she was ready to adopt this Liberty Ship transfer language in the Coast Guard Bill soon to move through the Senate Subcommittee that she chairs.
Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI) seized the opportunity of another bill moving more quickly through the Senate to amend with this provision. Hellenes remember Senator Chaffee as one of three Republican Senators on the European Affairs Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations

(L to R) Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, U.S. Ambassador to Greece
Charles Reis, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Committee to courageously criticize his party’s President for supporting the Annan Cyprus settlement plan. Philhellene Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a member of the Committee handling the bill moving through the floor, also played a significant role,” said Manatos.

U.S. Ambassador to Greece Charles Reis began this effort within the American government over a year ago following the request of Greek Minister of Merchant Marine Manolis Kefaloyannis. Ambassador Reis was particularly grateful for the Hellenic Coast Guard’s superb protection of American athletes and VIPs during the Olympics and cooperation on port security and non-proliferation,” said CEH leader Philip Christopher.

“U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta, whose department contains the Maritime Administration which controls Liberty ships, responded favorably to members of the CEH who have been long-time personal friends, in helping secure Administration support for the transfer. As well, Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis and Connecticut State Representative Demetrios Giannaros, with the assistance of Virginia State Senator Nick Rerras, were instrumental in making this idea move toward reality.”

“Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni’s meetings with President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington, D.C in late March, 2006 reinvigorated the stalled effort. Greece’s Ambassador to the U.S., Alexandros Mallias, closely followed America’s legislative process with respect to this Liberty Ship transfer and has encouraged its adoption,” Manatos added.

(Posting date 8 August 2006)

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