Pictured: Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis with President Donald J. Trump and the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis
As a former member of the House Committee on Foreign affairs and current Co-Chairman of the Caucus on International Religious Freedom, Congressman Bilirakis’ has always supported our allies, protected religious freedom, and sought robust defense funding to prevent attacks from our enemies.
As the grandson of Greek immigrants, Congressman Bilirakis is heavily invested in Hellenic affairs. The region is vital to American interests, and Greece is a strong ally of the United States. He is the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and the founding Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic Israel Alliance. Israel is a strategic ally in the region as well, sharing a common defense strategy with the United States, Greece, Cyprus, and other allies to thwart existential threats from bad actors in the region. In an increasingly connected world, it is important to recognize that upheaval and unrest in the Middle East can have ripples that echo across the Atlantic. American interests must be protected at all cost, and Congressman Bilirakis embraces the opportunity to work with world leaders to ensure a peaceful future in the Middle East and at home.
Congressman Bilirakis was glad to see his Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act signed into law. It recalibrates the American diplomatic, military, and economic policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. The strengthening of the United States’ relationships with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel will significantly improve efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and security in the region.
Congressman Bilirakis strongly opposes the illegal Turkish occupation of Cyprus, and has been a strong proponent of the reunification of Cyprus, on behalf of all the Cypriot people. He believes strongly in protecting religious freedoms across the globe, and stopping the persecution of religious minorities, including Coptic Christians in Egypt and Eastern Orthodox Christians in Turkey.
Turkey continues to demonstrate that they are an American ally in name only. Their offensive against our Kurdish allies is extremely concerning and Congressman Bilirakis believes that we cannot stand by and let egregious human rights violations happen.
Congressman Bilirakis was extremely proud of Congress’ decision to vote on Turkish sanctions. The PACT Act passed with his support and the overwhelming support of his colleagues. He is also very pleased that the House of Representatives finally voted with an overwhelming majority to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocides, whenever and wherever they occur, cannot be ignored. The Congressman been fighting for this recognition since first elected to Congress, and he was glad to finally set the historic record straight.
Sudan was a brutally repressed country that suffered numerous human and religious violations under the long-serving dictator President al-Bashir. As Co-Chairman of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, Congressman Bilirakis was able to travel to Sudan and meet opposition leaders, advocate for President al-Bashir to step down, and allow for democracy and freedom.
Weeks after his visit, President al-Bashir was overthrown, paving the way for a democratic and peaceful transition to civilian governance. However, this has been threatened by remnants of the oppressive al-Bashir regime. The Transitional Military Council has violently suppressed popular public protests. The Sudanese people deserve the opportunity to have a free and democratic Sudan. Congressman Bilirakis has been a staunch advocate for the Sudanese people, cosponsoring letters, resolutions, and briefing focused to ensuring a free and democratic Sudan.
While the Congressman applauds efforts to build bridges with world leaders, including those with a long-standing history of aggression and hostility toward the U.S., such as North Korea and Russia, he has far more confidence in the findings of the U.S. intelligence community than in the empty words and denials of Vladimir Putin, a known bad actor on the world stage. While the Congressman does not believe it altered the outcome of the 2016 election, there is undeniable evidence that Russia attempted to interfere with our electoral process. He has previously supported sanctions against Russia, expulsions of their diplomats, closures of their diplomatic facilities, and indictments of their officers and believes it is important to continue to hold those who seek to destabilize our democracy accountable for their crimes. Additionally, Congress has provided significant funding to help safeguard the integrity of our elections process.
Iran has been a destabilizing and antagonizing force in the Middle East for a long time. Congressman Bilirakis supported President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran Deal because it was inherently flawed. He believes it is a huge mistake for President Biden to be reversing that position. Iran has proven itself untrustworthy, and the U.S. should not be providing relief to an aggressive state sponsor of terrorism and violator of human and religious rights. President Biden is in the position to continue to hold Iran accountable for their destabilizing effects in the region. Iran is not a trustworthy actor, and any return to the Iran Deal would simply reward no positive change in behavior and risk the chance of nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands. The Congressman believes that the United States needs to review all options available to encourage Iran to abandon its nuclear program. He also believes we need to make sure not to make hasty decisions that unnecessarily escalate tensions between the United States and Iran.
As a world leader, the U.S. must consider the numerous consequences to action, whether it be unilateral, in conjunction with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), or in conjunction with the United Nations (UN). The United States, as well as our Asian and European allies, must be better prepared to respond quickly and more forcefully than before to transgression of international law.
On August 8, 2017, intelligence reports stated that North Korea has developed the capacity to fit a miniaturized nuclear warhead into a missile, faster than expected and further threatening US national defense and global security. North Korea then continued its hostile and provocative actions on August 29, 2017, when it launched a ballistic missile test over Japan’s mainland and into the Pacific Ocean. In response, the then Secretary of Defense sent a strong message that the United States will not back down from these threats and reassured our commitment to defending our homeland, stating: “The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”
The Congressman applauds President Trump for taking a historic step in trying to broker peace. While the Congressman believes that the dialogue was a historic development as we work toward denuclearization and stabilization of the region, we must be ever vigilant and pay heed to President Reagan’s admonition to “trust, but verify.”
The Congressman has been clear about his opinion that China is not a friend of the United States, and indeed, poses the biggest threat to our national security than any other nation. He believes that the time has come for a new approach in how we interact with China. We must continue to hold China accountable for its bad behavior and take a firm stance that further misconduct will no longer be tolerated.
Representative Gus Bilirakis filed a resolution urging the United Nations to take necessary and appropriate procedural actions to remove the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from the UN Security Council. He believes this significant action is long overdue given the PRC’s horrible record on human rights and continued bad acts on the world stage. For more than forty years, the U.S. has tried to engage China as a responsible partner on the international stage by expanding economic engagement.
Too often, the United States’ foreign policy has turned a blind eye to China’s bad behavior. This approach has been an utter failure. In the past year alone, China has violated an international treaty and dismantled Hong Kong’s civil liberties, continued its oppression of ethnic and religious minorities (most notably the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners), expanded its military, engaged in aggressive behavior against its regional neighbors, violated other nations’ sovereignty at sea, and engaged in fatal skirmishes as part of a land grab on the Indian border and most egregiously silenced medical professionals and concealed vital information from the world about COVID-19. The Congressman believes that China’s inexcusably poor management and lack of transparency regarding the spread of COVID-19 undoubtedly worsened the spread of this deadly virus which ultimately led to a global pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2.6 million people and caused catastrophic economic hardship around the globe. The Congressman believes China must be held accountable for these actions.
While the Congressman believes China is not an honest actor when it comes to the global economy, and believes we must rectify the trade imbalance that exists, he is not a fan of tariffs because he believes that they will ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers. The current Administration has maintained tariffs on Chinese imports not related to the COVID-19 response due to Chinese unfair trade practices, including theft of American intellectual property, and unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. (updated 03/09/2021)
Throughout history, humanity has encountered many faces of evil. The Congressman believes our brightest moments as an international community have been those in which we present a united front in our efforts to identify and eradicate its presence. He also knows that our darkest moments as a human race have come during times when those who knew better stood silently, making excuses for passivity and allowing injustice and persecution to reign. America must remain a beacon of principled courage, recognizing and promoting the basic human rights of all people. If we remain silent in the face of these transgressions, we neglect that moral imperative and do so at the peril of civil society. The Congressman supports our nation’s military leaders and trust that they will continue the mission of military readiness to combat any adversaries that threaten our democracy. If we are not safe, nothing else matters, and the Congressman is dedicated to improving our national security to ensure our families, loved ones, and communities live in peace.
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As Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Affairs and the Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance, Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) released the following statement regarding the rising tensions in the Aegean over recent Turkish provocation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, introduced a resolution today calling on Great Britain to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece. The Marbles were removed from Greece 200 years ago by Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin and transported to Great Britain. The Marbles were part of a frieze that wrapped around the Temple of Athena. In 1816, the British Parliament voted to purchase the Marbles and they now reside in the British Museum.
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, yesterday hosted a joint meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, ahead of his swearing in on September 28, to discuss the future of Greece and the relationship between Greece and the United States. Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Dina Titus (NV-01), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and John Sarbanes (MD-03) also joined the meeting.