Coffee Reception with Embassy Guests
Chief of Mission Residence
June 9, 2018 – 5:00 to 6:00 PM
Good afternoon. I just wanted to take half a second and welcome everybody to the house this afternoon, and explain what we’re doing here.
First of all, let me say what a personal pleasure it is to welcome my friend Damon Wilson and the institution he represents which is the Atlantic Council in Washington D.C., which I think is one of the most valuable assets we have in terms of the effort to continue to build a dynamic transatlantic community and a strong American foreign policy. But I am especially pleased that this year the Atlantic Council has brought here to Greece and to Athens their next generation Fellows program, because this is a program that the Atlantic Council uses to lift up future generations of transatlantic leaders. And this year they’ve made a decision to focus in particular on the challenge of the refugee problem and the various responses to that problem.
And as U.S. Ambassador to Greece I am acutely conscious of both the enormous sacrifices and the generosity that Greece has demonstrated in dealing with this challenge since 2015, but also, as Damon and I talked about, the strategic challenge that the refugee problem represents to Europe, to our transatlantic community, and the importance of viewing the refugee issue not just as a significant humanitarian challenge but also as one that we need to engage on collectively to preserve our transatlantic community, to uphold the values that we represent, and to ensure our shared security interests.
And certainly for the United States, we are proud of the very strong relationship we have with Minister Vitsas, with all of our colleagues from the Greek government who are working on these issues. But unlike most American visitors, Damon and his colleagues on this trip didn’t just stay here in Athens, but also did the work of going to Lesvos and visiting Moria, meeting with the NGOs, going to Karatepe, getting a real hands-on feel for how this issue has impacted that community, and the tremendous resilience and generosity that the people of Lesvos and the other hotspots are demonstrating.
So today was an opportunity to – we’ve done some Embassy briefings, some internal discussion – but this afternoon is an opportunity for Damon and his team to meet some of the partners that we at the Embassy work with every day across Greek civil society and Greek media. But also for me personally, and this is the hidden agenda, is to lift up in Greece the incredibly valuable work the Atlantic Council does and to enlist the Atlantic Council as an even stronger partner in our effort to develop Greece as a pillar of stability in the wider region, and to capitalize on the very important opportunities that we see to continue to deepen and strengthen and broaden the U.S.-Greece alliance.
So thank you Damon, it’s great to have you here.