Friday, August 21, 2009

Senator Collins' blog - Greece

Our last stop was Rhodes, Greece, where we arrived late Tuesday night from Afghanistan. Rhodes is a pretty town and a major port of call for our Navy. It was also the first place on our trip where we can drink the water from the tap!

The next morning we met with the head of the Navy League whose message was that the community welcomes more Navy ships. The Navy's port visits have helped to strengthen our relationship with Rhodes and, I am sure, put dollars in the pockets of merchants.

We also met and had lunch with Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Valinaskis, a knowledgeable and urbane former professor, who discussed the Greek commitment to the Afghanistan battle, our joint counter-terrorism efforts, the nation's relationship with the U.S. Navy, and upcoming elections. The Minister also brought up Greece's relationship with Turkey, always a source of friction, and Greece's anger over the name "Macedonia" being used by a country that was once part of what used to be called Yugoslavia. This Macedonia dispute was a new issue for me but clearly is deeply felt by the Greeks.

After a press conference with the Minister Valinaskis, we left immediately for the airport for our return to Washington.

I am so glad to be back home in America.

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