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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President at a Reception Honoring Greek Independence Day

4:40 P.M. EDT

      THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good evening, everybody.

      AUDIENCE:  Good evening.

      THE PRESIDENT:  Kalispera.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, your Eminence, for the kind introduction.  It is always an honor to welcome you here in the White House.  We’ve been friends for quite some time now, and his Eminence always displays such grace and good humor and is so generous.  We are so very grateful for your leadership.

      It is a wonderful pleasure to see so many friends and leaders of the Hellenic American community here as we celebrate the 190th anniversary of Greek independence.  (Applause.)  I want to acknowledge several people.  First of all, we’ve got some members of Congress here:  Michael Grimm from New York.  Where’s Michael?  There he is.  (Applause.)  Carolyn Maloney, also from New York.  (Applause.)  John Sarbanes, from Maryland.  (Applause.)  And then we have another guy -- I don’t know if he’s any relation -- Paul Sarbanes, also of Maryland.  (Applause.)

      We’ve got Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, Deputy USTR.  (Applause.)  He’s got a few fans here.  We’ve got Nicholas Karacostas -- (applause) -- the President of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association.

      I want to especially welcome Deputy Foreign Minister Dollis for traveling all the way here from Athens to join us today.  (Applause.)  I spoke with your Prime Minister, our good friend Mr. Papandreou today, and I wanted him to extend our congratulations to the entire Greek nation.  And we very much appreciate you being here to represent your government.

      We are also joined here by Greek Ambassador Kaskarelis.  Where is he?  There he is.  Good to see you, Mr. Ambassador.  (Applause.)  We have the Cypriot Ambassador -- (laughter) -- Anastasiades -- there you go -- (laughter) -- and his wife Maria.  (Applause.)

      Tonight we reaffirm the bond our two nations have shared for as long as we’ve existed.  Our Founding Fathers were students of Greek philosophy and Greek history, drawing on Greek principles to guide our own nation in its earliest days.

      When it was time for Greek revolutionaries to fight for freedom, they looked to the United States for strength and support.  And to this day, the United States and Greece shares a bond rooted in common values and common ideals.

      As allies, we stand together -– not only for our own security, but for the freedom of peoples around the world.  Right now, Greek and American soldiers are serving together in Afghanistan.  And as we celebrate the independence of the Greek people, the United States and Greece are standing with our NATO allies to support the Libyan people as they stand up for their own freedom.

      So I just want to express the extraordinary thanks that I give to the people of Greece for their friendship, and for their contributions to the life of our nation and so many others.  I also obviously want to say to all my great friends in the Greek American community, how much I appreciate your support and your friendship, and I’m glad that we have one more occasion to celebrate together here in the White House.  So it’s wonderful to see you again, and I hope you guys have a great time today.

      All right?  Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

              END           4:44 P.M. EDT