[Anna Karagiannopoulou]: In a new beginning with the American people, President Obama is betting on this year’s annual state of the Union address, which he delivered late Tuesday night before a joint session of the two houses of the American Congress. With his popularity having fallen to 43% and a series of contentious issues having occupied the White House in 2013, Mr. Obama focused on the successes of the last year as well as on the social aspect of the economy, calling for an increase in the minimum wage and clarifying that with a presidential decree that does not require the approval of Congress, he will raise the minimum wage for contractors of the American Congress. “America will not stand still, nor will I,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the oppositional attitude of Congress that has hindered the implementation of many legislative initiatives in recent years, and emphasized that as part of his efforts to achieve better opportunities for the Middle Class, he will first try through Congress and if he does not succeed, he will bypass the legislative power and operate with presidential decrees. The American President called on Congress to mobilize, saying that this is what most Americans want. They want us to focus on their lives, their hopes, their dreams. What unites the people of this country is the deep belief that everyone should have the same opportunities and that when someone works hard and takes on their responsibilities, they will move forward. The American President asked Congress to continue to promote legislation that will continue to boost the economy, the creation of new jobs, technological innovation, the country’s energy independence, and environmental protection. “Reforming the US immigration system will contribute to the creation of new jobs,” Mr. Obama emphasized and appointed Vice President Biden to coordinate a national retraining program for the unemployed and asked for the continuation of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. In matters of foreign policy, the American president mentioned that the war in Iraq is over and by the end of the year all American forces will have been withdrawn from Afghanistan. Mr. Obama emphasized, however, that the danger of Al-Qaeda remains and noted that in Syria, the US will support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. In a world of complex threats, Mr. Obama said, the security of the US depends on diplomacy that managed to achieve the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, supports the difficult but necessary talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and limited the development of Iran’s nuclear program. Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the planet has ever seen, stressed President Obama, and we support all those who fight for democracy, like in Ukraine, where we support the principle that all peoples have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in shaping the future of their country. Responding to Obama’s address, Republican Representative Cathy Rodgers presented her party’s version of how the US will bridge economic inequalities and create a better tomorrow for the country. Anna Karagiannopoulou, VOA, Washington