ATHENS – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will be in Greece this weekend to promote “The Hellenic Initiative,” an initiative organized by Greeks of the Diaspora that aims to help Greece overcome the current crisis. The program aims to raise $100 million to help Greek charities struggling during the country’s economic crisis and in its second phase to attract investments and improve Greece’s image abroad.
The Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has requested a meeting with the former U.S. President something that has not been scheduled yet.
Hellenic Initiative leaders, include Chicago money manager John Calamos, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and Washington attorney George Stamas. The group wants to use donations to help Greece make structural reforms including improving tax collections to raise revenues in a culture of rampant tax evasion, and promote foreign investment, but its primary mission is to help charities it said have a record for accountability and transparency in a country where corruption is rife.
Diaspora leaders have for years tried to help Greece but been rebuffed. Clinton’s involvement and his work in global programs is expected to give this effort a critical boost. As President, Clinton came to Greece to apologize for America’s involvement with the military junta from 1967-74 and was in the country as well in 2007.
Hellenic Initiative is a non-profit organization which aims at improving the quality of life of the Greek people during the crisis, the organizers said. They added, “We will focus on administering help to Greek families for medical treatment and social welfare and to organizations that fight poverty. “Time is pressing, that is why we are immediately starting the humanistic campaign for Greece,” it said in a statement.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is facing a dilemma. Greece is being ordered by international lenders who have already put up two bailouts totaling $325 billion to make another $14 billion in cuts and impose more austerity measures or face the money pipeline being shut off, which means the country would be unable to pay its workers and pensioners and charity programs would be on their own.