Ambassador Pyatt’s Opening Remarks: Rutgers University, TIF 2018

Ambassador Pyatt delivers Remarks, Rutgers at USATIF2018 (State Department Photo)

“New Agriculture for a New Generation”

September 10, 2018

Thank you Anastasia.  This has been a really exciting couple of days for us with a lot going on, but I was especially looking forward to this event because it brings together some of my favorite things.

First of all, the American Farm School and Thanos and team of the  school.  On my first visit to your school I got to see the barn with the baby cows.  [inaudible]

Second, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which does such terrific work across so many sectors and is one of our strongest partners.

And finally, food.  And what better example of the wonders of Greece is there than the food of this country, and I very much share the opinion we saw in the video, that there is enormous [inaudible] sector in Greece.

So, it’s a special pleasure to be here today to present an initiative that focuses on these critical sectors and one that does so with the support from so many strong partners.  The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, of course, Rutgers University in New Jersey, in partnership with the Agricultural University of Athens and the American Farm School has develop the innovative project, “New Agriculture for a New Generation.”

So the embassy already enjoys an excellent relationship with all of the partners involved in this initiative, and indeed, it exemplifies the point I always make about the power of the ties that we have tried to build between Greek and American academic institution.

A couple of people this weekend as I’ve been walking around the TIF have asked me, Ambassador, what are you going to do for an encore?  [Laughter].  One of my priorities as we build up momentum with TIF is to do as much as we can to grow and accelerate the partnerships between American and Greek education institutions, and Rutgers is at the forefront in this regard.

We are going to have a great embassy relationship with Rutgers University through our externship program, and a representative of the Captain Vassilis and Carmen Constantakopoulos Foundation (CVCCF) which is based in Kalamata was hosted by Rutgers and I had the opportunity to participate in a three-week internship at the Rutgers Food Innovation Center last July.

I know that for this young Greek participant, working and interacting with Rutgers was a life-changing experience, and gave him the opportunity to participate in numerous Rutgers University projects and to be trained at two innovation centers supporting agro food entrepreneurship in the United States.

So in this regard, I want to express special thanks to Robert Goodman who is here with us this evening.  Both for representing Rutgers University so well including in your booth at the American Pavilion, and for your active support for our externship program.

“New Agriculture for a New Generation” is part of Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s Recharging the Youth 100 million euro Initiative.  It invests in educating a new generation of farmers and agro food entrepreneurs.  Key areas for growth in the Greek economic development.

I’ve said on several occasions to my friend Andreas Dracopoulos at the Niarchos Foundation that the contributions that the Foundation is making in education, arts, culture, youth employment, economy, business, entrepreneurship, military training, firefighting training, health and civil society are having an incredible effect on Greek society.

So I’m really delighted and honored to have this opportunity to celebrate this particular program in the context of the Thessaloniki International Fair.  I’ve been saying all day that I think this will be remembered as a real landmark in the history of the U.S.-Greece relationship.  But I’m also 100 percent committed to ensuring that we don’t rest on our laurels, but rather use this week as a launch pad to continue building an even stronger alliance between our two countries.

The TIF has focused on the best of American technology, American innovation, American entrepreneurship, and we see the Thessaloniki Fair as an opportunity to bring Greece and the United States even closer together and to foster more partnerships between entrepreneurs and create an alliance of both countries.

So I’m going to wrap up by emphasizing that we believe that helping Greece to access potential in areas like agriculture and agro food is one of the ways that we can help advance the U.S. goal, helping to build a strong, prosperous Greece, a strong partner to the United States.  And I’ve said it before, that Greece’s entrepreneurial spirit and the resilience of the Greek people is one of this country’s most outstanding qualities and attributes and what we are celebrating today is a perfect combination of the two.

So congratulations to all involved.