The common thread of democracy in Greek and American cultures has enabled Greek immigrants to readily assimilate American values while still clinging devoutly to their heritage, said George D. Papoulias, Greek ambassador to the United States.

"Greeks identify easily (with American culture) because they come from the same sources," Papoulias said Friday in an interview.Papoulias was honored Friday at a reception in Salt Lake City along with Rep. Wayne Owens, R-Utah, who was recognized for his efforts to push legislation calling for more military aid to Greece.

Papoulias will be present Saturday to recognize Utahn Nicholas L. Strike, former Republican candidate for governor, for his contributions as the supreme president of the American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association.

The ambassador said American emphasis on democratic ideals creates a natural bond between the two countries. But American-Greek relations have not always been cozy. Greece still remembers that the United States failed to stop the Turkish takeover of Cyprus in the 1970s.

Papoulias said the American silence then is a stark contrast to the reaction to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, which was consistently denounced by the United States.

"What's wrong with Cyprus? Shouldn't the same principles also apply to Cyprus? Isn't it a sovereign member of the United Nations?"