Help for Greece com­ing from across the At­lantic

From the Greek-Amer­i­can lobby to the coun­try’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton, na­tional is­sues are be­ing raised at fundrais­ers and on dig­i­tal me­dia

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY KA­TE­RINA SOKOU

WASH­ING­TON DC – The de­gree to which the Greek-Amer­i­can lobby can ac­tu­ally in­flu­ence pol­i­cy­mak­ing in the United States is de­bat­able, but some things can­not be de­nied: A first is the close-knit ties be­tween a num­ber of Greek-Amer­i­can mil­lion­aires and big po­lit­i­cal play­ers in Wash­ing­ton; a sec­ond is the per­sis­tent ef­forts of var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­sti­tutes and com­mit­tees to pro­mote the moth­er­land’s so-called “na­tional is­sues;” and, thirdly, the grow­ing chal­lenges in push­ing Greek in­ter­ests in the

Di­mopou­los pointed out one more cru­cial fac­tor: the need to reach an agree­ment on a set of key in­ter­ests. As he says, “I’m for a strong, holis­tic lob­by­ing cam­paign; not here, but in Greece. This is where we need to train, in­form and win over pub­lic opin­ion, so ev­ery­one will be on the same wave­length on is­sues that are im­por­tant to all Greeks and on which we should all be united.”

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De­spite the lack of re­sources and out­side help, the un­der­staffed Greek Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton is putting a great deal of en­ergy into so­cial me­dia and dig­i­tal diplo­macy as a mem­ber of Wash­ing­ton’s Dig­i­tal Diplo­macy Coali­tion and with a pres­ence on Face­book, Twit­ter, Pin­ter­est, YouTube and Flickr. In fact, the @GreeceInUSA Twit­ter ac­count was the eighth most in­flu­en­tial diplo­matic ac­count in Wash­ing­ton. Greek Am­bas­sador Chris­tos Panagopou­los was one of the first diplo­mats to join the mi­croblog­ging ser­vice.

The em­bassy does not al­ways deal with high pol­i­tics, but it is try­ing to mold a pos­i­tive im­age for Greece. A re­cent so­cial me­dia cam­paign was aimed at pro­mot­ing study pro­grams in Greece for for­eign stu­dents, while the next plan is the pro­mo­tion of Greek en­trepreneur­ship, in­no­va­tion and re­search.

Mean­while, Tur­key is work­ing with FleishmanHillard ad­ver­tis­ers to strengthen its pres­ence in so­cial me­dia. The same com­pany is re­spon­si­ble for or­ga­niz­ing jazz nights at the stun­ning res­i­dence of the Turk­ish am­bas­sador, thus pro­mot­ing not just the po­lit­i­cal but also the cul­tural di­men­sion of the coun­try. Tur­key is spend­ing mil­lions of eu­ros on the pro­mo­tion of its ob­jec­tives through a wide range of chan­nels, in­clud­ing Turk­ish Air­lines as well as the move­ment of Muhammed Fethul­lah Gulen.

Ac­cord­ing to ProPublica, Tur­key spent 3.5 mil­lion dol­lars in 2008, the fourth-high­est amount among for­eign states, and ap­proached mem­bers of Congress 2,268 times in its ef­forts to avert the recog­ni­tion of the Ar­me­nian mas­sacres as a geno­cide.

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