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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ATHENS419
2006-02-14 12:49:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Athens
Cable title:  

NEW GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER AN OLD FRIEND OF AMERICA

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  GR  BAKOYANNIS 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000419 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL GR BAKOYANNIS
SUBJECT: NEW GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER AN OLD FRIEND OF AMERICA


Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries. Reasons 1.4(b/d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ATHENS 000419

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL GR BAKOYANNIS
SUBJECT: NEW GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER AN OLD FRIEND OF AMERICA


Classified By: Ambassador Charles P. Ries. Reasons 1.4(b/d).


1. (U) SUMMARY: As has been anticipated for weeks, Prime
Minister Karamanlis announced changes to his Cabinet February
14, including the replacement of Foreign Minister Petros
Molyviatis with Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni. This move does
not come as a surprise and will not alter the excellent
relations the Embassy now enjoys with the Foreign Ministry.
We expect Molyviatis will continue to advise the Prime
Minister, in an unofficial capacity. Draft congratulatory
messages contained in paras 5 and 6. Other Cabinet changes
reported septel. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) Theodora (Dora) Bakoyianni is perhaps the most
popular mayor of Athens since the Golden Age of Pericles.
The first woman to serve as Mayor, Mrs. Bakoyianni was
elected in 2002 with the biggest majority in the city's
history, and she routinely tops popularity polls for New
Democracy (ND) politicians. Politically, Mrs. Bakoyianni has
espoused moderate positions when she has commented on foreign
policy issues, and has been particularly forceful on
terrorism. On terrorism, of course, her family story gives
her special reasons to be firm. Her first husband was
assassinated by the domestic terrorist organization "17
November" (17N) in 1989. She gave strong support to the U.S.
after the September 11 attacks (as did the whole ND
leadership, in contrast to the then-ruling socialist (PASOK)
party). Dora has been outspokenly opposed to leniency for
convicted 17N terrorists and in favor of keeping the 17N
investigatory file open. On regional issues, Mrs. Bakoyianni
favors Greek-Turkish rapprochement and Turkey's European (EU)
path, and she publicly supported the Annan Plan for Cyprus in

2004.


3. (C) Meanwhile, in the announcement of the Cabinet
reshuffle, Karamanlis thanked Molyviatis for his 50 years of
public service. We do not believe, however, that the 78-year
old Molyviatis is through with government service. While
there was no announcement today of a new job for Molyviatis
as Minister of State, this could still occur. At the least,
Molyviatis will continue to function unofficially as the PM's

Elder Statesman on foreign policy issues.


4. (C) Dora Bakoyianni is not only the natural successor to
Molyviatis at the MFA, she is widely seen by the Greek elite
as Prime Minister Karamanlis's leading possible successor and
rival to lead the ND party. Bakoyianni owes her political
career to her father (Constantinos Mitsotakis) who chaired ND
for nine years, in addition to serving as Prime Minister.
She served in her father's cabinet both as Deputy Minister to
the PM (effectively "gatekeeper" to Mitsotakis) and as
Culture Minister. Following ND's electoral defeat in 1993,
the party split into two major factions -- one led by Dora's
father, the other by current PM Costas Karamanlis. For this
reason, Bakoyianni has been an outsider in the Karamanlis
camp, and Karamanlis has been reluctant to give his chief
competition such a high-profile job.


5. (C) It was undoubtably not an easy decision for
Karamanlis to put Bakoyianni in such a high-profile post and
thereby possibly annoint her as a "Gordon-Brown-like"
successor in waiting. Providing they can manage the personal
and political rivalries, however, bringing Bakoyianni into
the government should help Karamanlis. Photogenic and
forceful, Bakoyianni's energy and desire to shape events will
help Greece cut a wider swath in the Balkans, in Brussels and
internationally. The attention to Bakoyianni will also tend
to diminish any political benefit PASOK leader George
Papandreou would get from his new international stage as
President of Socialist International.


6. (C) We expect Dora to get out of the blocks early,
traveling to Europe and the Balkans. She will no doubt wish
to visit Washington in the coming months as well. A "hands
on" manager, we anticipate that Bakoyianni will move quickly
to revamp the Foreign Ministry and make personnel changes.
On policy, in addition to the war on terrorism, we expect
Bakoyianni to take a more activist role in working on
relations with Turkey and to move the Cyprus issue (where
both she and her father were advocates for the Annan Plan).



7. (SBU) TEXT OF PROPOSED CONGRATULATORY MESSAGE TO INCOMING
FOREIGN MINISTER BAKOYIANNI:

Dear Madame Minister:

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the
"sisterhood" of Chief Diplomats, and commend you for stepping
up to assume a crucial job at a critical juncture in global
affairs. Greece and the United States have long been close
allies, and you are taking over at a time when relations
between our two countries have never been better. Our
strategic partnership is evident from Afghanistan to the
Balkans, where U.S. and Greek diplomats and soldiers are
working side by side to bring freedom and peace to people who
have long felt the lack of it.

As you prepare to take over the reins at the Foreign
Ministry, I want to assure you of my willingness to work
closely with you to advance security in your immediate
neighborhood and around the world. I know that we will stand
shoulder to shoulder in the war on terror. The United States
also will work with Greece to improve relations with Turkey,
including support for its EU membership perspective and to
work to promote a Cyprus settlement. We also rely on Greece
as a strategic partner at NATO and in the UN Security
Council. As you are all too aware, we face complex
challenges around the world, but together I am confident we
can achieve great things.

I look forward to working with you, and meeting you soon.

Sincerely, etc.


8. (SBU) TEXT OF PROPOSED THANK YOU MESSAGE TO OUTGOING
FOREIGN MINISTER MOLYVIATIS:

Dear Mr. Minister:

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the
excellent cooperation we have enjoyed during your tenure as
Foreign Minister. Around the NATO table, I will miss your
insight -- and your sense of humor -- about the business of
diplomacy.

As you leave the Foreign Ministry, you should take great
pride in the fact that U.S.-Greece relations are better than
they have been for many years. And not only our bilateral
relationship has improved under your leadership. You have
been a staunch proponent of regional stability, be it in the
corridors of Brussels in the run-up to the launch of EU
accession negotiations with Turkey, or with leaders in
Belgrade, Zagreb and Pristina, upholding our common
commitment to bringing war criminals to justice and fostering
a peaceful solution in Kosovo. I am very grateful for your
support of Afghanistan's reconstruction and stability in
Iraq, which I know have not been easy decisions for Greece to
make.

Above all, I must thank you, on behalf of all Americans, for
Greece's immediate and unstinting efforts in the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. I know we did not fully utilize the Greek
offer, but that in no way diminishes its value to us.
Greece's generous donations, from public and private coffers,
aided Americans in their hour of need. There is no better
measure of friendship than that.

Sincerely, etc.

END TEXT CONGRATULATORY MESSAGES


7. (U) BIO NOTE: Dora Bakoyianni was born in 1954, the
eldest child of former Greek Prime Minister Constantine
Mitsotakis (1990-1993). The family fled Greece to escape the
military dictatorship in 1968, returned in 1974. She married
politician Pavlos Bakoyiannis in 1974. An outspoken member
of Parliament, Pavlos Bakoyiannis was assassinated by
domestic terror organization "17 November" in 1989.
Bakoyianni has two children from her first marriage. She
remarried in 1998 to Greek businessman Isidoros Kouvelos,
although he stays out of public life. Dora studied political
science and law at the University of Athens, politics and
communications in Germany. She is a longstanding member of
the New Democracy party. During her father's tenure as PM,
Dora Bakoyianni served as Minister of Culture. In opposition
politics, she served as shadow foreign/defense minister (in
addition to being elected to parliament four times).
Bakoyianni was picked by current PM Karamanlis in 2002 to run
for Mayor of Athens. Fluent in English, French and German.
RIES