Grande Bretagne Hotel, Athens
Monday, January 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
As prepared for delivery
Costis, friends, colleagues, καλησπέρα σας! I know everyone’s excited about the pita cutting, so I’ll be brief. I got back from Washington a little over a week ago, where I accompanied Prime Minister Mitsotakis during his fantastically successful visit to the White House and meetings around DC.
I want to share with you what I observed: an incredibly warm reception for your country’s leaders regardless of party, a widely held view that Greece has bounced back from its previous setbacks, and a sincere respect for Greece as a pillar of stability and source of solutions, a reliable partner who shares U.S. goals and values.
President Trump congratulated Prime Minister Mitsotakis on Greece’s tremendous comeback. Vice President Pence spoke of the unbreakable bonds between our countries that have contributed immeasurably to the life of the nation and still represent the core of what binds us together. These bonds have never been stronger, and they are the result of all the great work we’ve done together.
The all-time high in U.S.-Greece relations and the tremendous bipartisan support that our relationship enjoys in Washington reflects significantly on our longtime partnership with the Propeller Club. So I’d like to thank Costis and the Board for the fantastic cooperation over the past year and look ahead at our goals for 2020.
The tempo of our cooperation in the maritime sector has increased dramatically, with a number of recent ship visits including the USS Leyte Gulf to Piraeus and the USNS Carson City to Alexandroupoli, Syros, Piraeus, and Rhodes.
We benefit greatly from working with Greece and its important ports, from our longstanding relationships at Souda Bay to our increased use of the ports like Alexandroupoli under the revised MDCA.
Just before the holidays, I helped Minister Georgiadis to celebrate the grand re-opening of the Neorion Syros Shipyard following Onex’s successful restructuring. The United States views Neorion as an important American investment in Greece – strategically, commercially, and symbolically – and we hope that Onex will be allowed to replicate its Syros success on a much larger scale in Elefsina.
Our maritime relationship also touches significantly on the energy sector. LNG imports to Greece more than doubled in 2019 As LNG demand grows, Greek shippers are taking the lead in transporting U.S. LNG to global markets. Greeks are now the largest LNG ship owners, giving Greece a major role in the global LNG supply chain and reaffirming that Greek ship owners are leading innovators in the maritime industry.
Behind each of these successes is a great deal of planning, cooperation, advocacy, and hard work, so I want to express my gratitude to all of you. So, let me close with a quick toast to Costis and the Propeller Club for the great strides we’ve made in our bilateral relationship. The stage is set for 2020, and many exciting opportunities lie ahead. I wish you all a happy new year. Καλή χρονιά!