During his time in Congress, John Sarbanes was a staunch advocate of building bipartisan support for this relationship. In an interview with the English Edition of “To Vima,” the seasoned politician reflected on his efforts to strengthen the bond between the two nations.
According to the State Department, the bilateral relations between Washington and Athens are currently at an all-time high. When asked to assess this progress, Rep. Sarbanes expressed satisfaction.
“I feel very good about the current state of Greek-American relations and also the support for a strong relationship inside the Congress,” he said. Sarbanes credited the success to the hard work of philhellenes in the Senate and the House, and their dedication to educating their colleagues on the significance of the U.S.-Greece partnership in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Reflecting on policy changes during his years in Congress, Rep. Sarbanes highlighted the energy-security partnership, which elevated the bilateral relationship on a strategic level. He particularly emphasized the East Med Security and Energy Partnership Act which was cosponsored by Sen. Bob Menendez and Sen. Marco Rubio in 2019.
“This created a foundation for cooperation, partnership, and collaboration between the United States, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and others in the Eastern Mediterranean. And we can keep building on that foundation going forward,” he explained. Sarbanes sees this as a pivotal step that will continue to shape the relationship positively in the future.
John Sarbanes’ retirement marks the conclusion of an era, as, for the first time in 52 years, there will be no Sarbanes on the Hill. His father, Paul Sarbanes, served as both a House representative and senator from 1971 to 2007.
Sarbanes Junior entered Congress the same year his father retired and has since won nine consecutive terms. After 18 years of service, he recently announced that he will not seek re-election for a 10th term in 2024.
In addressing concerns over the Hellenic Caucus losing one of its strongest advocates, he sought to reassure the Greek-American community.
“They shouldn’t fear that because you can’t have a Sarbanes forever anywhere. The natural laws of the universe would prevent that,” the Congressman said. “But I think the legacy is strong; the commitment is strong, and we have done a good job making sure that our colleagues understand the importance of the Greek-American relationship.”
Sarbanes believes that the foundation laid during his time in office will ensure continued understanding of the importance of a strong relationship between the United States, Greece, and Cyprus.
He emphasized the importance of this legacy, stating “it’s not just to have Greeks in Congress; it’s to have Philhellenes in Congress. It’s to have people there who understand that for the U.S. it’s important that the relationship with Greece be a strong one. I think we have done a good job with that.”
Video edited on Kapwing