Greek Lobbying in Greece and in the US

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Lobbyism is one of the most effective elements of the determination of the domestic and foreign policy of the United States (US). Besides the President of the US, lobbyists directions take important place for decision making and evaluation of the personnel serves for important duties in the institutions and organizations in the decision-making mechanism on domestic and foreign policy, including the White House.  In that sense, House of Representatives and Senate appears as another significant centers for lobbying activities. That’s why, every state allocates a budget for lobby firms and lobby activities somehow.

Like other states, Greece also give weight on lobbying activities in the US. In the latest period, especially after the President of US Joe Biden taken the power, it was felt that Greece’s lobbying activities escalated. Thus, while US-Greece relations have gained a significant progress, Greece also escalated her initiatives on undermining the US-Türkiye relations, which are in a crisis for a while. Greece is allocating new bases to the US in her territories, demanding F-35 fighter jets for herself, and trying to prevent the transfer of F-35 or F-16 fighter jets/modernization kits that Türkiye demanded from the US. This topic, which is far away from rational decision-making process, emerges as the most important trump of the Greek lobby in the US, and Greece.

As Newhouse highlights, the most influential lobby in the US is the lobbyism activities that are carried out by the ethnic groups. In that sense, Armenians, Greeks, the Chinese, Indians, the Taiwanese, Ukrainian and the Japanese stand out.[1] In that perspective, Türkiye had to struggle with the Greek and Armenian lobbies, which have a dense ethnic population in the US.

The influence of the lobby of Greece over the President Biden can be seen in the reception that Biden gave for the honor of the visit of the President of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Washington.[2]  Biden praised in the opening speech for Greek diaspora, While introducing Member of the Maryland House of Representatives politician John Sarnabes of Greek descend, he expressed that his father (the first Senator that has Greek descent of the US) has a great impact on himself and he learned too much from him.

Another element taking attention of the Greek lobby is that Greek American George J. Tsunis, who serves for the Ambassador of the US in Athens. Starting his duty in May, Tsunis’ biography on the webpage of the embassy[3], clearly states that he has a fanatical Greek affiliation. Tsunis has written that he grew up with a deep Greek culture and his mother language is Greek, and this clearly reflects to his biography that he will work for the interests of Greece rather than the US interests. This employment clearly puts the effect of the Greek lobby, Biden’s words in the reception that “I am not sure that when I was happier: the day I was elected as the President of the US, or the day I assigned Tsunis.” States that the relations of Biden-Greek lobby and Greece. Also, Tsunis being founder member of the “Hellenic American Leadership Council” is a clear sign for which purposes he will serve as the Ambassador of the US.

Another effect of the Greek lobby was seen in the expression of Biden in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit that “the US benefits from selling F-16 to Türkiye.” Thus, by 30 senators under the initiative of the Republican Senator Frank Pallone, a letter was written to Biden and it is demanded that not to sell F-16 to Türkiye. The senators have underlined that they will make their best effort to prevent the resell of the fighter jets.

The senorts that signed to the letter besides Pallone are Karen Bass, Gus M. Bilirakis, Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, David N. Cicilline, Jim Costa, Mike Doyle, Anna G. Eshoo, Brian Fitzpatrick, Chuck Fleischmann, Louie Gohmert, Josh Gottheimer, Raúl M. Grijalva, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Susie Lee, Ted W. Lieu, Nicole Malliotakis, Carolyn B. Maloney, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Grace F. Napolitano, Chris Pappas, Donald Payne, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires, Christopher H. Smith, Jackie Speier, David G. Valadao and Peter Welch.

It is seen in the list that Gus M. Bilirakis, Nicole Malliotakis, Chris Pappas, John Sarbanes are Greek based members of the House of Representatives. It is known that David N. Cicilline ve Carolyn B. Maloney are philhellenist (the lover of the Greek culture) American senators. In the Congress Maloney serves as the founder of “Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues” and co-chairman with Gus Bilirakis.

Tony Cárdenas, Judy Chu, Jim Costa, Mike Doyle, Anna G. Eshoo, Chuck Fleischmann, Ted W. Lieu, Nicole Malliotakis, Carolyn B. Maloney, James P. McGovern, Grace Meng, Grace F. Napolitano, Chris Pappas, Linda T. Sánchez, John Sarbanes, Jan Schakowsky, Adam B. Schiff, Brad Sherman, Albio Sires are Christopher H. Smith are the members of this commission with 136 members. Other signatory members are influenced by Greek diaspora somehow. The politicians in the regions where Greek diaspora are intense especially involves that issue.

It is thought that the number of the Greek Americans living in the US changes between 1,2 and 3,5 million. The places that Greek Americans live most are Chicago, Boston, and New York. Cleveland, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Tampa, and Atlanta are the other places that the Greek lives the most. The politicians being candidate from those regions are influenced by Greek diaspora somehow.

On the other hand, Greek lobby was carried out by many organizations established by Greek Americans. In the US, The Hellenic American Leadership Council[4], American Hellenic Council of California[5], American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association[6] American Hellenic Institute[7] are the institutes that involve in lobbying activities. The significant part of those signatory politicians are related to those organizations.

However, it should be noted that lobbying activities are important and influence American foreign policy mostly. However, the reality of the foreign policy and the national interests of the US is more important than lobbying activities. Although its power, Greek lobby could not manage to prevent Türkiye’s interests in the past as well. In recent period, although it is seen that their activities escalated under the Biden’s administration, the most realist policy that Greece follows under the light of the lessons taken from the past, is solving the issues in the frame of International Law and cooperating with Türkiye.

[1] John Newhouse, “The Influence of Lobbies on U.S. Foreign Policy”, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2009, Vol. 88, No. 3 (May/June 2009), s.73.

[2] Remarks By President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and Prime Minister Mitsotakis of Greece at a Reception Honoring Greek American Relations, Gr.USembassy,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[3] U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Greece,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[4] Hellenicleaders.,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[5] A Message From Our Chairman, Americanhellenic,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[6] Ahepa,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

[7] Ahiworld,, (Date of Accession: 14.07.2022).

Doç. Dr. Şafak OĞUZ
2019 yılında Doçentlik unvanını alan Şafak OĞUZ, Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri’ndeki (TSK) 23 yıllık hizmetinden sonra 2021 yılında emekli olmuştur. Görevi esnasında Birleşmiş Milletler (BM) ve Kuzey Atlantik Antlaşması Örgütü (NATO) bünyesinde de çalışan OĞUZ, Kitle İmha Silahları, Terörizm, Uluslararası Güvenlik, Uluslararası Örgütler ve Barış ve Çatışma Çalışmaları konularında çalışmalar yapmaktadır. OĞUZ, halen Kapadokya Üniversitesi İktisadi, İdari ve Sosyal Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nde öğretim üyeliği görevini sürdürmektedir. İyi derece İngilizce ve Almanca bilmektedir.