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May 2008

Politics, Cyprus, FYROM and “heroic deeds”

Congressman Zack Space had a great-great-grandfather who did a “heroic deed” so memorable that he got a Turkish nickname for it that his namesake surmises sounded like “space.” And the young hero liked it so much that he adopted it as his surname.

Which means that Congressman Zack Space has to perform heroic deeds of his own? He already has by winning election from a longstanding Republican district and we feature an interview with him in this issue. Not only did young Zack Space win that improbable election, but he changed the whole way his predecessor was doing business. He not only brought a sense of personal ethics and integrity to the office, he also pushed for those issues in Congress and, closer to home, he’s made it a mission to bring needed jobs to his district and relieve its endemic poverty.

That’s a heroic deed in itself, but it’s only part of a larger effort by Space and the other Young Greeks in Congress that includes John Sarbanes of Maryland and Gus Bilirakis of Florida. Besides bringing home the jobs and benefits to their districts, they’re part of the new crop of young Greek legislators who are putting new energy and bringing a new vision to solving longstanding problems, such as the issue of Cyprus and Macedonia.

Space was in Greece and got briefed firsthand by Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis himself on these issues. He came away impressed by the passion they rouse in the Greek public, particularly right now what he calls the cultural and political usurpation of the name of Macedonia.

“It’s a very volatile issue right now in Greece,” he says, “something I wasn’t even aware until Prime Minister Karamanis explained to me just some of the repercussions he had experienced in his efforts in attempting to work out a compromise. I understand where many Greeks are coming from in this issue and I think some of our work in Congress has paid off with the State Department. I’m hopeful we’ll keep the pressure on and we’ll see some real progress in the issue.”

It will be a true heroic deed if these congressmen can bring fresh energy and a new focus on these issues and actually bring about a solution. They represent a new beginning for the U.S. Congress to tackle these problems and with a change in administration, perhaps they will perform a true “heroic deed” and find some resolution.

Dimitri C. Michalakis

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