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Trump’s tough foreign policy would make Greece and the world safer, says former President’s advisor

WASHINGTON, DC – by Petros Kasfikis/ To Vima  

Donald Trump’s presidential relationship with Recep Tayyip Erdogan experienced its ups and downs, exhibiting a complex dynamic of both affinity and tension.

Despite occasional disagreements and policy divergences, the closeness of their ties was often emphasized through informal “son-in-law diplomacy,” involving communication between Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s son-in-law and former finance minister.

However, Turkey’s revisionist regional agenda has raised concerns among American voters, particularly those with a keen interest in the Eastern Mediterranean. This diverse group includes Greek-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Christian Evangelicals, Armenian-Americans, and Kurdish-Americans.

Especially within the Greek-American community, Donald Trump garnered high poll ratings, securing an endorsement in 2020 from the non-partisan grassroots political organization United Hellenic Voters of America.

Christos Marafatsos, a longtime economic and outreach advisor to President Trump and several prominent conservative organizations, sought to reassure the Greek-American community.

Speaking to “To Vima” on the sidelines of the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), Mr. Marafatsos emphasized that Trump, policy-wise, took a tough stance against Erdogan. He argued that the former President implemented a strategic shift prioritizing Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean during his tenure, challenging perceptions of unwavering support for Erdogan.

As we enter the campaign season, how do you assess your performance, and what signals are you receiving nationwide?

Look, if the elections were today, President Trump would win it by a landslide. That is a fact. We all know it. Joe Biden knows it. Day after day, President Trump is making progress. And day after day, we have Joe Biden in the White House that’s kind of digressing. The world is losing confidence in Joe Biden. He’s not able to perform at the way we expect the president to. Someone like Donald Trump, we see him. Just now, we were here at CPAC, and he had an hour time slot to talk to us. He was there for two and a half hours, telling us that he is going to be working for the American people. That is what the Americans expect out of a president.

So, we are at a great place. I think the Trump campaign is doing a fantastic job. They are extremely well organized for 2024 to win it. We are extremely prepared. The president is willing to do everything he can do to be the next president. We see that day after day. He is beating lawsuits; he is leading in the polls, and really, he is leading up to a November win. So, I think we are winning by landslide. And I think Joe Biden is lucky that the election is not today.

Donald Trump enjoys popularity among Greek Americans, an immigrant community, despite his tough stance on immigration. Do you see a paradox in this, considering accusations of anti-migrant rhetoric and lack of empathy?

As a Greek American and as a family that came here in the 50s, like a lot of our fathers and grandfathers before us who have done so well in the U.S., this question is very important to me. And you bring up a good point. Predominantly, most of the Greek Americans do support Donald Trump. We took polls in 2016 and 2020 throughout the elections, and we saw that over 70% of Greek Americans support this president. And that is because of the following reasons. Because he is a businessman. We know that he is going to get up every day and work for the American people. As Greeks, what we have done is we have come to this country and we have built. We bypass the hurdles that life throws at us, and we say we are here to make a better generation for us and our families. And that is what Donald Trump has done for this country.

And as Greeks, we want someone that is going to be there and fight for us. And when it comes to immigration, this is an important topic. We came to this country as legal immigrants. Donald Trump is pro-immigration. He is pro-legal immigration. Right now, we are seeing almost 250,000 people come into our southern border, and we have no clue who they are.

That is one of the biggest concerns, not only through national security, not only through job and economic growth concerns, but who are these people security wise? Who are they? Where are they coming from? What do they want? Do they have their best interests in America? We don’t know that. Donald Trump will figure that out. And as Greeks, as immigrants who have come to this country and have worked year after year, decades after decades, to provide our families a better life, that is the only thing that we can ask for. A place where we can feel secure in America. A place where our jobs are protected. And a place where our children are safe.

I want to follow up on your response; Many Greek Americans arrived in the States illegally, yet succeeded in serving well their families and their adopted country. So, is there room for criticism of Trump’s rhetoric against illegal immigrants?

Regardless of administration, even if you look at the policies of the Joe Biden administration, they have policies to protect this border. Regardless of left or right, Democrat or Republican, it is every president’s job, one of his first jobs, to know and to have a system to come into our country in a way that is predictable, that is allowable, and that we can enforce. Joe Biden is not doing that. President Trump, he wants immigration. He calls on people to come here and start a new life. So, I think that is a great question. Donald Trump has promised to be a president for all people. And not only Americans, but we see the world saying, where is he? We want him back. You know, there is a major war in almost every continent right now. The world is not a better place than it was four years ago. So, step by step, the first thing a president should do is enforce its existing policies. He knows how to do that. He is a good businessman, and we look forward to having him in 2024.

Speaking about the world, President Trump suggested he would “encourage” Russia to attack countries not meeting NATO spending requirements. Should U.S. allies in Europe worry about decreased commitment to the Alliance in a Trump reelection?

Yes. President Trump has said time and time again, that a strong NATO is what is needed in this world. And that is what he wants. And that is what he will do. We have heard Donald Trump comment on NATO. And that is because we have member states that are part of NATO and are not paying their first fair share of 2%. The U.S. is a major contributor to NATO. And you know who else is? Greece. They provide their 2%. But the majority of member NATO countries do not. And who does that affect? That affects countries like the United States and Greece which do pay their fair share.

So, he wants a strong NATO. In fact, NATO was its strongest when Donald Trump was president from 2016 to 2020. It is weak now. And Donald Trump senses that. He understands it. And he wants the world to be a better and safer place. And the way we do that is when we come together. We already have an existing organization. There is no need to create a new one. But what he is trying to say, and what he says time and time again, is that we have a policy. We have an organization in place to protect us through wars and conflict. NATO isn’t doing anything right now. They are at limited capacity because they don’t have the resources. So, if Donald Trump were to be president, on his first day he would ensure that NATO member states are paying their fair share. And that makes us all safer.

So, are you suggesting that these “threats” are mere campaign rhetoric that we should not take seriously?

He wants a stronger NATO, and he knows that the way to do that is for the members that are part of it, that reap the rewards, to make sure they are paying their fair share. Because you know what? When Donald Trump was president for four years, we did not have a war. In fact, he stopped them all. And now that is the complete opposite.

You seem to imply that President Biden is to blame for the current wars in Ukraine and Israel. What alternative actions would Donald Trump have taken to prevent these conflicts?

Donald Trump’s ethos about being president is he wanted peace. And that is what he brought. So, he brought peace by strength.

The Greek-American community is concerned about the close ties between President Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially their son-in-law’s channel of communication, which was labeled “son-in-law diplomacy.” Should Greece worry, and does Trump’s “America First” policy align with a rules-based international order?

As a Greek American, we are all concerned about Erdogan. And I think we saw a strong fundamental shift from 2016 to 2020, starting with Donald Trump. And if you look at history, regardless of whether the president was Republican or whether he was a Democrat, Turkey was always a U.S. major ally. Same with Greece, but there was more interest out in Turkey.

That changed under President Trump. He saw Greece as a very strategic partner and ally in the Eastern Mediterranean, a consistent ally over decades. So, the conversation that we hear that Trump and Erdogan had a great relationship, really at the end of the day, if you look policy-wise, there was no tougher president on Erdogan than there was Donald Trump. We saw that factually through policy.

Regardless, Republican or Democrat, Donald Trump changed the course of the relationship between the U.S. and Greece for modern history. We have not seen that in the last 40 years. That is significant. You know, the fact that he has a relationship with Erdogan and all major leaders is actually a good thing, because he can get up, pick up the phone, and call him and have a conversation.

And you brought up guys like Jared Kushner. He was incredible in the White House and did a magnificent job in for example bringing peace in the Middle East through the Abraham Accords. That was a peace agreement that no one expected it would ever occur. Jared Kushner was one of the main people to bring that forward of course with the President Donald Trump and we are very lucky to have someone like that; we are very lucky to have a president like Donald Trump because he is tough on bad actors. So, if Putin were to start a war, he would call him and say not today.

Petros Kasfikis is an accredited correspondent covering the White House, State Department, and Capitol Hill. Stay updated on the latest political developments from Washington, D.C. by subscribing to his YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/PKas?sub_confirmation=1