March 24, 2012

Politics is in Andy Manatos’ DNA—literally. His father served Presidents Kennedy and Johnson as a White House Assistant for Senate Liaison and he, himself was the youngest sub-cabinet official in the Carter Administration serving as Assistant Secretary of Commerce. Prior to that, Manatos served as a Committee Staff Director in the Senate and aide to former Senators Thomas Eagleton and Gale McGee.

He left public service to start his own lobbying firm—Manatos & Manatos and considered an expert on matters of importance to Greek Americans, Greece and Cyprus.

1) Your family has a long tradition in Washington DC. How did you, personally, get started working on Greek issues in Washington DC?

The answer is by chance.  My father as a top aide to President Lyndon Johnson was asked to get involved in President Johnson’s famous letter that stopped Turkey’s 1964 invasion of Cyprus.  Likewise, I was asked by my boss at the time, Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, to get involved as he led efforts in the US Senate that cut off aid to Turkey because of its 1974 invasion of Cyprus.

2) In your opinion, what are the important “Greek-related” issues in Washington DC today?

Religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, ending Turkey’s occupation and division of Cyprus, ending the FYROM name issue and helping Americans fully appreciate the value of our bi-lateral relations with the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus.  Also important at this time, of course, is optimizing US support for Greece’s efforts to manage its economic crisis.

3) Are you happy with President Obama’s handling of the issues of importance to Greek Americans in his first three years in the White House?

During the first year of this Administration there was concrete progress on virtually all fronts.  During the second year, the Cyprus issue lost ground, although it did not fall all the way back to the level it was when this White House took office.  In the third year the Administration received a Congressional letter, that we helped one-out-of-four US Senators and Members sign, expressing displeasure with America’s Cyprus policy.  Following this letter, we worked closely with constructive elements within this Administration to move the American Embassy in Cyprus toward a much more fair position.

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