Ambassador Pyatt’s Remarks at 200 Years of Innovation Launch 

Serafio Municipality of Athens 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 12:00 p.m. 

Thank you Theo.  Kalispera everybody.  Ambassador Angelopoulos, Mayor Bakoyiannis, Deputy Minister Makri, friends, distinguished guests, colleagues, I’m delighted to welcome you to this launch of the “USA & Greece: 200 Years of Innovation” Escape Room.  

The U.S. Embassy is very proud to support this innovative program as part of our year-long campaign to commemorate the Greek bicentennial and the shared values and friendship that united our countries for more than 200 years.

I want to thank Theo and all of the team at SciCo for partnering with us on this terrific program.  And Mayor Bakoyiannis, thank you for providing us this fantastic space here at Serafio.  Now that I am able to call myself a longtime resident of Athens, I am delighted to see areas where the city is thriving and reinventing itself.  And Serafio is one of these spots demonstrating the municipality’s great work and providing a facility to residents for innovation and collaboration. 

And I want to congratulate Ambassador Angelopoulos in particular for her outstanding leadership in orchestrating Greece’s tremendously successful celebration of the bicentennial.  I want to thank the Greece 2021 Committee for its auspices for today’s program and for the really excellent partnership that we have enjoyed throughout the past year as we have celebrated the story our countries’ shared history.  I know you have just returned from a very successful trip to the United States, where you were warmly welcomed by Americans eager to learn more about the Greek bicentennial.  So, congratulations for that success as well.   

Under Ambassador Angelopoulos’ leadership the Committee has been doing very important work to educate the Greek people about the significance of the bicentennial, celebrating Greece’s history, and highlighting the many achievements and contributions that Greece has made to the world even through this challenging year of the pandemic. 

The United States Embassy is proud and excited to join in these celebrations.  It’s not only an opportunity to reflect on the history of our countries’ remarkable alliance but also to look towards the future, which this program is all about. 

The bicentennial is a chance to recommit to the values that Greeks and Americans proudly share:  our passion for democracy, for equality, human liberty, and self-government, as well as our shared innovative spirit and the drive for scientific discovery that unites our peoples and forms the foundation from which we continue to build. 

Our partnership in innovation is reflected on in the Science and Technology Agreement that Minister Georgiadis and former Secretary of State Pompeo signed in Thessaloniki in September of last year.  It’s an agreement which is designed to enhance collaborations between our labs and research institutions, increasing access to scientific materials and facilities, while strengthening and accelerating Greece’s startup ecosystem and providing a stimulus to the investment. 

And that’s why, when we started putting together the Embassy’s bicentennial campaign, we wanted to pay special tribute to the contributions of American philhellenes who underscore our shared history, but also are able to consider the potential for future partnership in the areas of technology and innovation.   

And this is how, together with our partners at SciCo, we came up with the concept of this Escape Room.  And I think it’s a great way to help people discover the many shared scientific breakthroughs that our peoples have enjoyed over the past 200 years. 

Our support for “200 Years of Innovation” builds on our longstanding partnership with SciCo and the Athens Science Festival, where we hosted prominent American scientists and researchers, including two NASA astronauts who were able to meet with and inspire hundreds of Greek youth.  And I can say having been on the stage with those Astronauts, it’s very, very hard to compete with a NASA astronaut if you want to get people excited about innovation and technology. 

So I am thrilled to be able to continue that tradition today and share with you and the many Greek young people we hope will visit this Escape Room over the next few weeks, the Greek and American innovators that have shaped both our countries and have redefined the global scientific landscape over the past two centuries.   

Starting with Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, a physician that fought for Greek independence and also practiced medicine here in Greece 200 years ago, to Kizzmekia Corbett, an African-American senior research fellow who today is working with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health, and Vassiliki Kalogera, a Greek astrophysicist at Northwestern University and the Center of Disciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics – you can meet them all here and learn about their incredible lives and work!   

As we celebrate the 200 years of Greece’s independence, and two centuries of ever-strengthening and deepening bonds between our peoples, we are looking forward to an even more dynamic and greater future ahead.  It is a future that will be driven and defined by science, passion for progress and discovery!  And it’s in this Escape Room, you can learn about how it all began!  So thank you all for joining us.  I know on my part I’m eager to try to explore -and hopefully escape at one point or another.  

Efcharisto poli.