ATHENS – The world is at a critical juncture right now and is being called upon either to support democracy or to allow absolutism to prevail, US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis said on Tuesday at the American embassy.
Speaking on the embassy grounds before the statue of George Marshall on the 75th anniversary of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, Tsunis said the world faced a critical point as it had done in 1947, and wondered what country would follow Ukraine if the Russian plans suceeded in its plans against a European state.
Tsunis spoke of the Truman Doctrine’s commitment to supporting democratic countries and the Marshall Plan’s role in helping Europe and Greece to restore their economies and stand on their own feet again. In Greece, in particular, there was extreme poverty, agricultural production had been reduced by 70%, and its industrial infrastructure had been decimated. The Marshall Plan brought over 6.5 million tons of food and supplies to the Greek people, helping them survive and bringing a ray of hope in a very dark era. Millions of dollars in loans helped modernize production, equipment, and facilities, and to create new jobs, the ambassador noted.
Specifically, he said, between 1947 and 1953, the United States gave Greece 2 billion dollars, “literally reconstructing Greece,” an amount that in today’s terms equals 21 billion dollars. The US also gave 13 billion dollars in aid to Europe, or 150 billion dollars in today’s terms. “Greece received 2 billion, which corresponds to 15% of the amount given to all of Europe,” Ambassador Tsunis said. “So you can imagine what a country of 6.3 million people received then, and how important a country it was,” he noted.
The event included MP Tassos Chatzivassiliou, representing the Parliament speaker; US Senator and President of the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Association Leonidas (“Lou”) Raptakis; and representatives of AHEPA, the American Legion, and Greek communities in the United States and Australia. It culminated in the laying of wreaths at the base of Marshall’s statue.