Sunday, April 23, 2017
Alexia Tasouli: Mr. Ambassador thank you very much for this interview.
Ambassador Pyatt: Thank you.
AT: How do you see Greece’s geostrategic importance in the Eastern Mediterranean region?
Amb. Pyatt: Well, Greece is a key NATO ally in a strategically crucial region, it is an important partner in the Eastern Mediterranean at a time when America’s highest foreign policy priority is the military defeat of ISIS in Syria, it is also a key partner in our engagement with the countries of Northern Africa, it is a strong ally as we seek to work with the countries of the Western Balkans keeping them on their Euro-Atlantic trajectory, and it is an essential partner dealing with the challenges emerging from the Black Sea region. So, Greece is right in the center of the picture.
AT: What are your expectations regarding Greek American relations in the defense sector?
Amb. Pyatt: Well, we had an excellent visit by Minister Kammenos to Washington D.C., where he was able to have a substantive discussion with Secretary of Defense Mattis. We already have a strong alliance. Our interest now is to work together to build the kind of partnership that we need to meet the challenges of the 21st century, some of the strategic issues in the neighborhood that I talked about, but also the challenge of terrorism which is a threat to all of our democracies.
AT: How important is Souda Bay for the Greek American relations?
Amb. Pyatt: Souda Bay is an essential strategic asset, very important to U.S. Naval forces operating in the Eastern Mediterranean. We are grateful for that. But it’s also a fantastic platform for strengthening the military ties between our forces. I’m very, very impressed by the kind of respectful and professional relationship between our Air Forces and our Navies that work together at Souda Bay. We’re very much looking forward to continuing to deepen and strengthen that relationship in a way that it advances both countries’ security.
AT: How do you see the NATO involvement in the Aegean in order to minimize refugee flows?
Amb. Pyatt: We have been strong supporters of the NATO Standing Maritime Goup-2 which has helped to reduce the risks from illegal migration into Greece. Of course the long-term solution to that problem is peace in Syria, and that’s something we are also working to achieve, but in the meantime we are strong supporters of SNMG-2.