Ambassador Pyatt’s Remarks at the 9th Mineral Resources Forum

9th Mineral Resources in Greece International Forum
King George Hotel, Athens
June 21, 2019, 12:15 p.m.

Καλημέρα σας.  First of all, thank you for inviting me to speak at this important and particularly timely forum on mineral resources in Greece.

I was in Washington last week for meetings at the White House, at the State Department, and with Congress, and I can report that there is today a broad consensus in the United States that Greece has become one of our most important regional allies, a model of good neighborly relations, and a force for peace and stability in the wider region.

The United States recognizes that prosperity and stability go hand-in-hand, so we are doing everything in our power to promote investment opportunities in Greece and to help speed Greece’s economy back to healthy, rapid growth following its successful completion of the bail-out program.

The Thessaloniki International Fair, which Simion kindly alluded to, set the ball rolling in a number of sectors, spotlighting the opportunities that Greece and especially northern Greece represents, not just as a single market but as a gateway to the Balkans and a reemerging energy, transportation, and commercial hub for southeastern Europe.

The unprecedented turnout of American companies at the U.S. pavilion at TIF demonstrated the strong interest from American investors hoping to get involved in Greece, taking advantage of privatizations, like the privatization of Greek ports, opportunities in the energy sector, and in other technology and knowledge-driven industries as the Greek economy begins to rebound.

The mining sector is a particularly dynamic one in Greece with thousands of years of history that holds great promise for large-scale investment.  Every time I ride through Lavrio or Agios Konstantinos, I’m reminded that the Greeks have been taking advantage of the country’s mineral wealth since antiquity, but the sector has yet to realize its full potential. So we are excited now by the opportunities we see for its renewed development and expansion.

If developed properly, using responsible, sustainable practices and with close coordination between government, industry, and local stakeholders, these new investments can be a major win for the Greek economy, and especially for Northern Greece where there are so many mineral resources waiting to be developed.

Projects like Eldorado Gold’s billion dollar mine at Skouries are important because they will help to grow and diversify Greece’s economy beyond the traditional tourism and shipping sectors.  And as I heard very clearly in my discussions with investors last week in New York, the success of projects like Eldorado Gold, that had been outstanding for so long, would signal to foreign investors that the business climate in Greece is changing.

Because success breeds success, and because there is a powerful herd dynamic in financial markets, the more companies that invest in Greece, the more likely others are to follow.

The U.S. Embassy and I personally will do all that we can to unlock these opportunities in order to develop the full potential of the Greek economy.  We see many synergies in the mineral sector with U.S. companies like Caterpillar, the industry leader in construction machinery and equipment, delivering the very best of American capital, innovation, and technology to help this country’s economy grow.

The United States is deeply invested in our relationship with Greece and in supporting Greece’s full economic recovery.  So thank you again for inviting me to join you today, and I look forward to the results of a productive and interesting forum.  Ευχαριστώ πολύ.