Former US President Bill Clinton sent a video message in honor of former Prime Minister of Greece Constantine Simitis and noted how proud he was to have served concurrently with the Greek leader for a period of five years.

The video message played at an event held Monday that was organized in honor of Simitis, who took the reins of the Greek Socialist party after the formative former Greek PM Andreas Papandreou.

“I am proud to have served in parallel with the Prime Minister Costas Simitis for five years and for collaborating closely with him to strengthen the ties of friendship between our two countries,” said Clinton.

He added, “during this period every leader had to answer important questions about what the world will look like after the end of the Cold War: Would it move towards a new era of peace and possibly, shared prosperity, or would it simply continue, revealing long-standing divisions that would make new conflicts within and between nations more likely? I will always be grateful that Prime Minister Simitis answered these questions by delving into European integration and pursuing stability in the region.”

The leaders served during a period of high geopolitical tension in Southeast Europe, which was notably marked by the NATO-led war in Kosovo and the tentative peace between Turkey and Greece after the two countries narrowly avoided a conflict over an uninhabited Aegean islet.

Meanwhile, the Greek populace was still cautious over US foreign policy, following the US’ support for the military junta that ran Greece from 1967 to 1974, and the November 17th terrorist group was still active and at large, making the challenge of building bridges between the two nations particularly difficult.

It was during this period that Clinton travelled to Greece in an attempt to smooth its partnership with Greece and made his famous address, following an introduction by Simitis, and said, “We are all Greeks.”

He added, “When the junta took over in 1967 here, the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interest- I should say, its obligation- to support democracy, which was, after all, the cause for which we fought the Cold War. It is important that we acknowledge that.” The statement was broadly viewed as an apology by the Greek people.

In his 1999 address Clinton then commented on the way forward following broader tensions in the region stating, “it is possible to be shaped by history without being a prisoner to it.”

Simitis was leader of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and served as Prime Minister of Grece from 1996 – 2004. Meanwhile Clinton was a democrat and the 42nd President of the United States from 1993-2001.