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Greek twang in American elections

11 February 2008 / 18:02:21  GRReporter
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The Greek lobby in the US plays a very important role in every presidential campaign on the other side of the ocean; it is the same this year as well. Hillary Clinton made a leader of the lobby “Greek-Americans support Clinton” her longtime best friend Eleni Kounelaki. It is the first time a woman becomes a leader of a lobby. On the other side of the Democrats, Barack Obama also entrusted his campaign finances to his longtime friend – Illinois finance minister Alexis Yanoulias. The 30 year old Yanoulias is the youngest State minister in America.

Eleni Kounelaki (on the photo together with Bill Clinton) is owner of the biggest real estate company in Northern California. She is eminent Democratic activist and in her State she gathers $300 000 in support of Clinton’s campaign. Kounelaki is also the president of the Greek-American commission, friends of the Clinton family. She is married to the publisher of the political publication Washington Monthly, Marcos Kounalakis. She knows Hillary since 1990 and they are family friends. While Bill Clinton was president, the Kounelaki family has been regular guests in the White House.

“I am very proud that Hillary entrusted me her campaign and I am very honored to be the first woman to lead a national lobby,” shares Eleni Kounelaki in front of the Greek section of Vote in America. According to her it is a tradition for American-Greeks to support the Democrats but not too long ago Hillary disappointed them when she called Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name. “She did it for short. She is very well aware of the name problem of the former Yugoslavian Republic.” Hillary’s advantages among the Greek-Americans are her experiences in organizing international conferences in the Ecumenical Patriarchy in Constantinople, in order to help the institution and also her decisiveness to resume the dialogue with Cyprus.

Barack Obama’s campaign also has its Greek sides in the face of the finance director Alexis Yanoulias. Remember this name, if Obama wins, it is a possibility that he will manage America’s finances. The 30 year old Yanoulias was born in Chicago but speaks perfect Greek. Throughout his whole life he spends every summer in Greece and he even lives in Athens for some time, while competing for the basketball team “Panyonio.” It is right at that basketball court, where he meets Barack Obama for the first time, with whom he becomes very close friends. “Without Obama’s advises and support I would have never become a finance minister of Illinois,” admits Alexis.

What are Obama’s views about topics interesting to Greece? Typically for every populist, who speaks about whatever the voter want to hear, his outlook is exactly the one Greeks want it to be. According to Obama, Macedonia is in Greece and Turkey is guilty for the separation of Cyprus and it needs to take the blame.

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