Elektra Metropolis Hotel, Athens
Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 2:40 p.m.
Καλησπέρα σας. Niko, Elias, it’s a tremendous pleasure to join you and my colleagues and friends, Ambassadors Cohen and Garber, for the signing of this MOU to enhance economic, business, and trade collaboration among our respective countries. I also want to congratulate the Chambers on your superb timing in scheduling this event the same day as the successful summit meeting between Prime Minister Mitsotakis and his counterparts from Cyprus and Egypt.
All of this helps to reinforce the United States’ strategic focus on the Eastern Mediterranean and complements what we have been doing with Congress through the East Med Act and with Secretary Pompeo’s leadership in the 3+1 with Israel, all aimed at positioning the United States for this new era of resumed great power competition in the Eastern Mediterranean.
I applaud the efforts of all our AmCham partners who realize the importance of looking beyond borders and embracing opportunities for regional collaboration. I am confident that this agreement will benefit your member companies along with reinforcing peace and prosperity in this wider region.
When Secretary of State Pompeo visited Greece last month, the United States reaffirmed our shared views on the importance of dialogue and cooperation to create opportunity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
One important pillar of that collaboration is our commitment to strengthening our cooperation with Greece, Cyprus, and Israel through the 3+1 framework that Secretary Pompeo launched in Jerusalem in 2019. In the same way, I’m confident that we will support the trilateral among Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.
The East Med Act, passed with strong bipartisan support in our Congress last year and signed into law by President Trump in December, reinforces our whole-of-government effort to advance these strategic regional energy, economic, and security partnerships.
We talked a lot about the Eastern Mediterranean during the Secretary’s visit to Souda Bay in Crete with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister Dendias, and Defense Minister Panagiotopoulos, and together, we underlined United States support for Greece’s leadership in this challenging region.
Today’s MOU complements and strengthens this regional vision. The more that the nations of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans invest in these collaborative arrangements, the more durable they will become. We all win.
My Embassy colleagues and I are incredibly proud of our record of collaboration with the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, one of our most important and longstanding partners here in Greece.
As one example, our efforts to bring the very best of American technology and innovation to the Thessaloniki International Fair in 2018 have led to U.S. technology giants like Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco, and Google expanding their footprints here in Greece.
Just last month, Microsoft announced that it will invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a complex of data centers around Athens, by far the largest investment that Microsoft has made in its long history here. And that’s just the start.
Pfizer, Cisco, and Deloitte have built digital hubs and innovation centers in Thessaloniki to take advantage of the city’s highly skilled university graduates and Thessaloniki’s position as the international gateway of opportunity for the Western Balkans.
As Nikos and Elias can attest, Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Thessaloniki last month highlighted the U.S. commitment to continuing to deepen and expand the American business footprint in Greece.
The Secretary also participated in an energy roundtable with a delegation from the Greek government, Greek private companies, and from North Macedonia that demonstrated how Greece and its neighbors are coming together to redraw the energy map of southeastern Europe. Together, we are committed to diversifying European energy sources and routes. This same logic drives American support for the East Med Gas Forum and our participation in the 3+1 energy dialogues.
Our countries share a vision of the future where collaboration across multiple sectors leads to greater prosperity and shared security. We welcome all who are ready to cooperate on the basis of international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
So congratulations again on signing this forward-looking MOU, an important step towards realizing our countries’ shared goals. I assure you, the United States will remain a great partner as, together, we advance regional initiatives that strengthen political and economic relations in this critical region. Together, I know we will succeed.