|For Immediate Release||November 20, 1999|
On the occasion of President Clinton's State visit to Greece, the United States and the Hellenic Republic announce the following new initiatives and programs:
President Clinton and Prime Minister Simitis have formally launched the Initiative for Technology Cooperation in the Balkans (ITCB), which will bring together scientists, business leaders and government officials who are committed to modernizing the region's technological infrastructure. Greece's location and advanced development make the country a natural connection to the emerging democracies and markets of Southeastern Europe.
The U.S. Fulbright Exchange Program has established two new programs -- Millennium Scholarships, which will provide assistance to up to 200 Greek students wishing to pursue Master's degrees in the U.S; and the Aegean Communities Exchange, which will create joint research programs by Greek and Turkish scholars. President Clinton recently announced that one of the Millennium Scholarships will be named in honor of Yiannos Kranidiotis, Greece's alternate Foreign Minister who died in a tragic air accident in September.
The Greek Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to allow the U.S. to resume humanitarian grain shipments through Greece to other countries in the region. This decision will allow the United States to provide much needed food assistance to many of the Balkan and other Central European countries. Grain shipments had been impeded due to Greek concerns about U.S. testing methods. The U.S. and Greece have since agreed upon survey and regulatory control activities designed to make the risk of disease negligible.
The U.S. Embassy and the Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) have reached an understanding confirming their desire to facilitate tourism and business associated with tourism between the two countries. The United States has committed to form a Visit USA Committee in Athens to promote tourism to U.S. destinations. In addition, both countries will work to preserve and enhance each other's cultural heritage, to encourage communication between Greek and American cities, and to continue bilateral consultations.
The U.S. Department of Commerce will open a Commercial Service office in Thessaloniki to encourage investments in the Balkans and to assist companies in exploring commercial opportunities. This decision was made in the wake of the conflict in Kosovo, in recognition of Greece's key role in promoting stability in Southeast Europe. It reflects Thessaloniki's position as a commercial hub for the region.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department have agreed to hold annual high-level talks on a wide range of issues, as part of an effort to deepen and enhance communication, understanding and cooperation between our two countries. Discussions will focus on areas such as European regional issues, counter-terrorism, and economic cooperation.
Due to the substantial progress made by Greece in addressing the intellectual property rights issue, the President has announced that the United States government will proceed rapidly towards a resolution of its World Trade Organization (WTO) case against the Greek government for violating television copyright laws. While U.S. industries estimate losses of $120 million in 1998, strong action by the Greek government reduced that amount by over half this year.
The United States continues to be the top supplier to the Greek armed forces. In 1998 and 1999, the Greek government announced plans to buy more than $4 billion in arms from the U.S. and American businesses. There has been a substantial increase in U.S. arms transfers to Greece during the past twelve months after Greece made purchases of six Patriot Missile Systems ($1.2 billion), up to 70 Lockheed Martin F-16s ($2.4 billion), and 70 AMC Humvees ($ 8.5 million). The U.S. fully supports Greece's defense modernization plans, in the context of NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative.
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