Ambassador’s Interview to “Kathimerini” at Thessaloniki Summit

Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt

Tom Ellis – Kathimerini

November 15, 2018

Kathimerini:  Since we are in Thessaloniki I would not be politically correct and knowing his interests if I did not start with asking him about how he views northern Greece, Thessaloniki, and especially this year where the U.S. was the Honored Country in the Fair, the international fair of Thessaloniki.

So let’s start with the U.S.’ views, especially views on the city, the area, its prospects, and then we go to energy.

Ambassador Pyatt:  Great.  First of all, Tom, let me say what a pleasure it is to be back in Thessaloniki.  I want to say a special thanks to Thanasis but also to Symeon for allowing me to have this platform again.  It has been a very big year for the United States in northern Greece, and I was reminded as I was getting ready for this that when Tom and I were up on this stage 12 months ago we showed for the first time our logo and a lot of people I think were wondering at that point could we really pull it off.  And one thing I’m particularly proud of is the fact that together with our partners from the American Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, we put together a Thessaloniki International Fair that I think will be remembered as a real milestone in the U.S.-Greece relationship.

I was in Washington last month, and one of the things that impressed me there was how much of an impact this did have back in the U.S. as an indicator to people, first of all, of the opportunities that underlie the U.S. strategic investment and our relationship with Greece, but also the untapped economic potential, especially here in Thessaloniki and in Northern Greece.  I think we were very, very pleased at the success of the focus in the American Pavilion on knowledge-based industries, innovation, technology, and the strong complement that that had in Pavilion 12.  The Greek government’s pavilion focused on the start-up sector, an area that the U.S. embassy has been investing in and supporting for a number of years.

But I think the other thing that was really heartening was the public reaction.  I think we’ve got a slide behind me, or we will eventually, of the fantastic crowds that we had.  A record turnout for the Thessaloniki Fair.  And the fact that we were able to have engagement that was really across the broad spectrum of our partnership.  When I started talking to Governor Tzitzikostas and Mayor Boutaris about TIF a year ago, one of the things they urged me was don’t just restrict what you’re doing to this building and to the exhibition grounds, and we tried to meet that goal with the presence of the USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet, with all the cultural programs, with the American Art Everywhere Exhibition, with the programs that we did that were focused on young people and on the technology sector.

I think for all of those reasons we really demonstrated the American commitment to do everything possible.  We demonstrated that American diplomacy is still strong, and that was something that I discussed with the State Department and White House leadership when I was back in Washington last month.  And we’re going to stick at it, we’re going to keep at it.  That’s why I’m here today.  We’ve got a large embassy team here reinforcing our fantastic Consul General Greg Pfleger.  And we are committed to continuing to build on this.

I can promise when we have the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue next month in Washington with Secretary Pompeo and with Minister

Katrougalos and a broad interagency team from both sides.  The U.S. side is going to be very focused on how do we build on the platform that TIF provides.  We actually now, we all talk about baby TIF, and what comes next.  And I look forward to hearing what Simos and the AmCham team have to say later in the day.  But as I said, this is the tent pole, at the center of the U.S.-Greece diplomatic relationship right now, but also the people-to-people and business relationship, which is something we’re committed to continuing to invest in.

Kathimerini:  I’d like to ask about the baby, because the last we were here, all of Greece, mainly let’s say Northern Greece, is all the right things are being said.  We have an ambassador who is really energetic, and I don’t want to reveal my age, but I was there when Dick Holbrook was at the State Department, and I was there when the Imia crisis broke.  Interviewing him, I followed him, I could daresay we had the relationship given the fact that Alexis Papahelas, myself and others were there at a very critical moment.  And Dick Holbrook was a doer.  You were a Republican, a Democrat, a mixture, I mean some people are beyond, you realize that they do things and they have the respect of both aisles.  I daresay we have somebody here who is at that level, I think.  And we’ll see him around even after he leaves Athens.  I’m sure he will be there doing stuff.

But coming back to Greece and after the exhibition, the fair.  What do we expect in real terms?  Because everybody talks about investments.  The U.S. is a special case.  You cannot order companies to invest.  But the simple guy on the street says okay, the U.S. is saying things, the ambassador is going to places.  Where is the investment?  Where are the jobs?

Ambassador Pyatt:  We’re already working on this.  Remember just a couple of weeks after the Thessaloniki Fair Wilbur Ross, as he promised the Prime Minister, traveled up to New York City during the UN General Assembly.  He pulled together his Rolodex and as one of my Greek government counterparts put it to me, there were several trillion dollars of capital around the table there because Secretary Ross had invited them to sit down with the Prime Minister.  I think Secretary Ross came away from his leadership of our delegation at TIF convinced that there was something here that was worth investing in.

There’s a very strong focus also on the regional element of our involvement with Greece.  We see Greece not just as a market of 11 million people, but as a gateway to the Western Balkans, a key partner with Israel, with Egypt, with Cyprus, this whole Eastern Mediterranean region which is so important to the future energy picture for Southeastern Europe.

So we’re going to keep working on this.  Thank you to HellExpo for the pictures which are now up.  I should point out one of those photographs from inside the U.S. Pavilion is from the Specialty Foods Association, our friend Phil Kafarakis, from the Specialty Foods Association, we’re working with Phil on a program early next year which will be aimed at helping Greek entrepreneurs in the food sector understand how better to navigate the U.S. marketplace in terms of import rules, in terms of distributorships and  all the things that are a challenge.  Greece has so much potential in all of these areas, and what we’re doing as a government is trying to unlock that potential to build bridges.

Ultimately, as you said, investors are going to make their decisions based on the ability of the government to demonstrate that the obstacles are being removed.  There are some big new potential projects that are on the horizon.  Hellenikon is the signature one.  [inaudible]…my welcome to Greece in August or September of 2016 was a Wall Street Journal headline.  Nektaria Stamouli had a story and the headline was “The Government at War with Itself.”  It was a story about the battles between the archaeologists and the government and everybody else.  I’m not going to leave Greece until that project moves, and I’m optimistic that we’re going to see that happen and feel there will be a multi-billion-dollar U.S. investment embedded in that project as well.  There’s obviously fantastic potential in the energy sector.  We see the FSRU moving ahead in Alexandroupoli.  It’s very important.  You had the decision by the European Union last week to greenlight the support framework for the IGB Pipeline.  This is helping to bring to fruition the American vision of Greece as an energy hub for Southeastern Europe.  All these projects are connected.  The Alexandroupolis Port privatization, the FSRU, the IGB, the TAP pipeline.

You could have a very different picture, and I think the fact is that American companies are now willing to take another look at opportunities in Greece and they are doing so with the very strong support of the U.S. government.  That will be very much part and parcel of the multi-part agenda that we are pursuing on December 13th with the Strategic Dialogue, and I’m very encouraged by the fact that I had good conversations with Minister Katrougalos and others on this, that the Foreign Ministry is connecting with Deputy Prime Minister Dragasakis, with the Ministry of Economy, with the Ministry of Finance, with the Ministry of Digital Technology.  We’re trying to do everything that we possibly can to mobilize the tools and resources of the U.S. government in support of decisions the Greek government makes to further facilitate trade and investment.

Kathimerini:  So the strategic relationship will go beyond diplomacy and beyond security.  You’re talking about something like, you know, some countries even with Turkey, we did have and still have these high-level meetings.  In this case you wouldn’t be able to have the President come here, but it’s going to be more than just diplomatic and maybe the military.  Are we talking some kind of like the visit Mr. Koumoutsakos from “New Democracy” just mentioned, something like that?

So how do you visualize this strategic dialogue which is going to start in a month?

Ambassador Pyatt:  That’s exactly our vision, and I said to George Koumoutsakos that great minds think alike because his concept is very similar to what we have been discussing with the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Again, what I would emphasize from the U.S. government side, this is not just the State Department.  It’s a whole of government exercise with strong support from the White House, strong support from the Pentagon, from the Commerce Department, the Department of Energy, we will have participation at the Strategic Dialogue in December not just from Secretary Pompeo, but from Under Secretary Menezes, the senior international official of the Department of Energy, senior officials from the Pentagon, from the Department of Commerce, from the White House.  Michael Kratsios from the White House Office of Science and Technology intends to be prominently involved.  All of this, and it’s not a coincidence, all of this is leveraging relationships and conversations which were begun at the TIF which is why I say that that event was so important as a real watershed, as a benchmark in the U.S.-Greece alliance.

Kathimerini:  [Inaudible] the domestic issue, but Minister Kotzias has left, and he was the architect of many of the things being done.  So is there an issue with his absence?  Well, he personally, but also the fact that Secretary Pompeo is moving with an alternate minister.  I mean the level is a little bit…  Of course we do have the Prime Minister and also Foreign Minister but he was, you know, so does this situation the Greek government cause an issue in this dialogue that is being built?

Ambassador Pyatt:  Minister Kotzias had a lot of friends in Washington, and we give him great credit for the contributions that he made to building the framework for the deepening U.S.-Greece relationship, and not just the deepening U.S.-Greece relationship, but this effort to cultivate Greece as a pillar of regional stability and the progress that he helped to, or that he led with Skopje, with the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, with the wider neighborhood.  But this is a relationship that I think has transcended personalities.

I’m a good example of that.  I arrived as President Obama’s representative.  I’m still here.  And I think that reflects the degree to which in the United States the U.S.-Greece relationship is now not about political party affiliation, it’s about strategic interests, and the broad array of constituencies that we have for our relationship.  And I would like to think the same applies in Greece.

So one of the things that you learn as a career diplomat is we’re all replaceable.  And I always say our job is to take the oar, you row as hard as you can for your time and then you hand it over to the next person.

Kathimerini:  Let’s go to the East Med, all this discussion and actually the Israeli Ambassador just noted that they keep writing about that because I feel Greece for years did not take advantage of that.  Now we have a situation where George Papandreou back in 2010.    Let’s call him a centrist.  We have then Antonis Samaras followed up on the same level, is at the right.  Then you have the leftist Prime Minister or central left or whatever, who then took over [inaudible] the U.S.  We’re wondering if you would stick with it, you know, change it, but it seems that he’s moving on.

So I’m just wondering how are these alliances with Israel but also with Egypt, Jordan, others, how do you view it from the U.S.?  And also, we are at the point where the U.S. is considering some kind of involvement.  I’m not sure at what level, what depth, but how is this theme being [inaudible] in Washington?

Ambassador Pyatt:  The easy question is, we are strongly supportive of Greece’s efforts to develop these regional relationships.  We see it as both a stabilizing factor for the wider neighborhood, but also to help bridge this geography between the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe and Greece comes to that effort as a NATO ally with all of the layers of collaboration that that brings, but also with shared values and with a similar outlook.  Not to mention literally thousands of years of cultural context which helps.

I think in terms of where this goes, I think that’s ultimately going to be determined by the governments most immediately involved.  How does Israel, which has a very important relationship with the United States, choose to develop its ties with Greece, its ties with Cyprus.  What happens with the Greece-Cyprus-Egypt trilateral?  Less noticed, but very important.

I would emphasize that from a U.S. standpoint this again is one of these multi-layered engagements.  It’s not just energy.  It’s also innovation, technology.  It’s defense and security.  And you have things like the INIOHOS exercise which takes place every year at Andravida where you have American pilots, other NATO forces, but also Israel and other regional powers being represented as well.

So we’re going to build on this.  We’ve made very clear the United States would like a seat at the table.  We’d like to participate in this conversation.  I think that will one in certainly the Eastern Mediterranean and the areas in the Eastern Mediterranean region will be an important part of the Strategic Dialogue conversation.  Again, we are making a strategic investment in our relationship with Greece which is premised on an understanding that geopolitical competition has returned to this region in a way that we haven’t seen for many decades, and that Greece is a natural partner.  It also helps that one of the real flagships of U.S. Greece defense and security cooperation is located in that southeastern quadrant and that’s in the port of Souda Bay.  Souda is busier today than it has been in many, many years, driven by the tempo of U.S. military and U.S. Navy operations in the Eastern Med.  And it’s not a secret that the U.S. Navy and the 6th Fleet are not the only force that’s present in that part of the world today so we’re going to continue to work on that platform as well.

What I would start with is the idea that this all rests on converging strategic interests, a converging outlook.  And that’s what makes this effort both important but also I think sustainable.

Kathimerini:  This is a good side of the story.  But then we have a big country which is an ally, NATO, but we do have issues between Greece and Turkey and between Cyprus and Turkey.  So how do you see the developments in the area, and firstly, the American company Exxon-Mobil will the next few days drill [inaudible].  Turkey is a little bit upset, I’m not sure that’s the right word.

How do you view the situation?  Not only do we have allies involved, but the U.S. companies.  Are you concerned about what might happen?  Or do you feel it will move on smoothly?

Ambassador Pyatt:  I’m not going to make any predictions, but I can say the United States has been very clear.  Washington has spoken repeatedly and consistently in terms of our support for the right of Cyprus to explore its continental shelf and its resources.  I would also note the U.S. State Department’s emphasis on keeping the rhetorical temperature at manageable levels.

I think it’s important also to note that we will have our Assistant Secretary for Energy and Natural Resources from the State Department, Franc Fannon, who was here in Greece earlier in the summer, made it one of his first international destinations.  But he will be in Cyprus in the next couple of days and I think that’s a clear message to all parties as well.

Kathimerini:  Speaking of keeping down the volume, the Turkish government said today, speaking at the National Assembly, noting that with respect to territorial waters and the situation in the Aegean, the legal and diplomatic ways, but there might be different ways, other options of dealing with it,the issue.  And he mentioned that the issue will be discussed at the National Security Council which makes people wonder what the other option might be.  Are you worried about the situation in the Aegean?

Ambassador Pyatt:  Again, I would come back to what Washington has said about the rhetoric.  I would also note, and I think it’s very important, that there’s a high degree of convergence between Washington and Athens on questions around Turkey.  We probably have no stronger ally in NATO in terms of sharing our perspective on both the importance of dialogue with Ankara, but also the importance of ensuring that Turkey remains anchored in the West.  That we all have a very strong interest in Turkey remaining as a strong NATO ally, but also a country that is proceeding with its European course and sees Europe as its natural point of reference.

One of the things that Washington has come to understand better in recent months is both the Greek government’s strong commitment to that principle, but also the fact that there are important soft power and people-to-people ties between the two countries that Turkey does not have with many other European Union members, and certainly there’s no place more, where these people-to-people and historic ties are more prominent than here in Thessaloniki.  So that’s the focus that we’re going to continue to have, and I’ve been encouraged by my conversations in Athens with government officials.  A very clear message in terms of the commitment to build on the visit last December, to see that the various joint commissions and other mechanisms between Greece and Turkey function effectively to manage differences.  And to also develop opportunities for economic collaboration.  You can certainly see it, the very high volume of Turkish investment in the Greek economy including flagship and projects like the Hilton in Athens, but also some projects that also involve U.S. investors.

I think that’s where we hope the focus will remain in the months and years ahead.

Kathimerini:  And not on the extension of territorial waters which is based in international law I assume, right?  Which is the right of Greece to do, especially different areas.

Ambassador Pyatt:  What I would emphasis on that is what we’ve heard from the Greek government so far is a focus on the Ionian Sea.  I know that Greece and Italy had a very civil and highly convergent conversation on these issues in Palermo this week.  And the question of what happens beyond that remains to be seen.

Kathimerini:  A question which is political, but it’s not that much of a domestic issue in Greece, but just in the U.S. who just had elections, and we had a lot of Greek-Americans get elected, and you —

Ambassador Pyatt:  I read that.

Kathimerini:  Yes.  And you work with a lot of them.  I mean part of your — so would that help at all or is it just our hope and imagination the fact that okay, Bob Menendez is very pro-Greek without being Greek.  And then you have I think six at the end of the day, both Republican and Democrat, six members of the House who are of Greek descent.  Will you be a bridge, or is it just us thinking about ourselves and being happy about it, which is nice?  But in substance, in policy, do they make a difference?

Ambassador Pyatt:  I think the Greek-American community is fantastically important to the bilateral relationship.  They also have helped significantly in this triangular relationship with Greece-Israel and the United States.  A very strong partnership between Greek Diaspora organizations and groups like AJC who I know well also.  In fact when I was in Chicago, that was one of the conversations I was having was with those two different political constituencies in the United States.

It certainly helps to have prominent Greek-Americans in important leadership positions in the U.S. Congress.  It really matters in terms of setting the agenda and advancing issues.  But even more important is when you build a political constituency for the U.S. relationship with Greece among members of Congress, leaders in our legislative branch, who don’t have the sort of automatic emotional connection to Greece, but come to Greece as a strategic proposition.

That’s why, for instance, it was so important that we had Senator Graham and a senior delegation from the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees here in the spring meeting with Prime Minister Tsipras.  That had an immediate impact in terms of U.S. funding for our defense and security cooperation.  That’s why it was so important that we had the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Europe subcommittee, Senator Johnson, here in Thessaloniki as part of the TIF.  And I will take some credit for the fact that Senator Johnson, who I had gotten to know in my previous job, personally came to visit me in Souda Bay because I said to him you should really see what we’re doing there.  So he did that, and then we followed up in some [inaudible] visits and he said I’m going to come back.  It was very useful and important to have him as part of Secretary Ross’ delegation because he is not only a leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he’s also an entrepreneur.  His family owns a plastics industry in his home state.  And so it really helped that he understood what was happening at the American Pavilion, he understood how important it was that we had more than 50 top tier American companies represented there.  And he certainly understood the political investment that both the U.S. private sector but also the Trump administration was making in building the relationship with Greece.

So I tend to work on both levels.  But with the Diaspora, again, I love them all dearly, I work very hard on my relationship with the Diaspora community, but I also have encouraged Diaspora leaders to work with the opportunities here, to look for investment opportunities, to put their money where their mouth is.

Kathimerini:  And as we move towards the end of the discussion, and given the fact that we are where we are, are you confident that the Prespas agreement will pass on both sides of the border?  Let’s start with the northern neighbor of ours.  It’s a delicate situation.  There are like 80, we do have 80, I’m not sure that will end up with 80, most likely they will, but how do you assess the situation?  The fact that the former Prime Minister is seeking asylum in another country.  As U.S. diplomacy sees developments in our neighboring country, in what way?  I mean how do you see this?

Ambassador Pyatt:  The first thing I would emphasize is we think Prespas is going to get done and I think history is going to be very kind to Prime Minister Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaev for the leadership they demonstrated in putting this together.  I think as Mr. Danielson said in the morning, Prespas and the normalization of ties with Skopje is going to be incredibly important for Northern Greece in terms of unlocking the potential of this region to serve as the economic gateway to all of the Western Balkans, to continue to develop opportunities for energy, for commerce.  There’s already a lot of that, but there’s a natural enticement, and so we see Prespas as the way to restore the historic role that Thessaloniki played through hundreds of years as the cosmopolitan capital of the Western Balkans.  So I think history, as I said, will be very generous for the leaders who put this together.

The United States support for the decision that the two governments made is absolute and will continue.  We’re going to work as hard as we can to keep moving this forward.  It was a sovereign decision by two elected governments.  But now that they’ve set that process in motion we’re going to work very hard directly with our European allies to see that it comes together, and we have a particular interest in terms of the NATO process because we see the completion of the Prespas agreement and Skopje moving ahead with its relationship with NATO as a key to stabilizing the region which, as Ambassador Smith pointed out, has been subject to a relentless campaign of Russian maligned influence and there’s not a week that goes by that we don’t read another headline about what the GRU has done in Montenegro or what’s being planned to Greece’s north.

So we see these as really historic times and we’re planning for success.

Kathimerini:  On that same question, as far as our part, I guess you’d agree that your position, which is [inaudible] is not necessarily [inaudible] on the international scheme or working for some other government.  So how do you view this?  Because some people tend to easily dismiss them as, you know, people to the far right or whatever.  How do you see this opposition with is real?  The majority of Greeks are very sensitive about the issue and they see the argument from the other side but they don’t buy it necessarily.  So how do you deal with such a [inaudible]?

Ambassador Pyatt:  I think about my conversation with Senator Graham when he was here in the spring.  He talked about the experience in South Carolina where you had a Confederate flag on the capital until not so many years ago.  These issues of identity are incredibly potent and we are very respectful of the different opinions that have been expressed within Greek domestic politics.  The Greek system needs to work that through.

But our view, as I said, is that this is going to be a huge plus for Greece.  Long term, economically.  I will also say in my visit to Washington in October, it was remarkable for me to see how important the Prespes agreement had been, or still is, to perceptions of Greece.  The perception of Greece as a regional leader, the perception of Greece as a country which is a source of solutions.  And the perceptions of Greece as an ally that the United States should continue to invest in.  Significantly lifted by the political courage that the Greek government demonstrated and the resolve that we saw in the Greek government’s approach to getting this done, because we see this, as I said, as a key to unlocking the whole Western Balkans region.  It will affect, getting this solved will affect how people think about Kosovo, how we all think and talk about the future of Serbia and our hope to see Serbia continue to move in a Euro-Atlantic path and the conversation that I expect will happen this evening with Deputy Prime Ministers and Prime Ministers from your northern neighbors.

Kathimerini:  How do you address my question about our role in the area?  We tend to emphasize us, the pundits or politicians, the role of Greece in the area, in the Balkans, the East Med or the European Union too sometimes.  And of course being the Ambassador in Athens you are polite, diplomatic and you’re probably not saying bad things about what we do and what the role is.  But try to, as someone said in CBS, wasn’t it like a decade ago, said between you and me, what’s on the air [inaudible].  Is this potentially as big as some of us feel?  Or is it again the hope that goes beyond reality?  Greece’s role.  Because one could say, Greek leaders before the crisis, we could be the anchor of the whole Balkan area, 70 million people, not 10.  And then our relationship with the Arab world, and our relationship with Israel.  Are all these [inaudible] points that people think about in the State Department, that ranges into the White House?  Or is it just us saying them, which is normal, but people don’t listen?

Ambassador Pyatt:  That’s the entire premise of U.S. policy, that we see Greece as a pillar of regional stability.  We see Greece as a source of solutions.  As I said, that’s why Prespas was so important, because it’s starting to make that real.

As Mr. Danielson pointed out, there was a lot of this same rhetoric 15 years ago at the time of the Thessaloniki vision.  It didn’t work out.

I think the other thing that plays a role here is what Greece itself has accomplished.  You are a country which has gone through one of the most severe economic crises that any developed economy has ever faced.  You have now escaped that.  You are out of the supervision of the Troika.  Your democracy is intact.  Your press is still free, your courts are independent.  That is not an insignificant accomplishment.  And I think there is great appreciation for the resilience, the courage and determination that the people of Greece have demonstrated through these years of crisis, but there’s also an appreciation now that this is still a neighborhood,a region with a lot of challenges.  You have the Western Balkans which still have a long road to traverse in terms of reform.  You have a systematic challenge with Russian maligned influence from the Black Sea all the way down into the Western Balkans.  You have the continued challenge of migration, an unsettled situation in the Magreb.  Questions about what’s going to happen with Libya.  Then you have the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean with Syria, Russia playing an unconstructive role, the continued problem of terrorism and migration that stems from unsettled circumstances there as well.

So these are all big problems.  They’re problems for Greece, they’re problems for Europe, but they’re also problems for the West, for our Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO and Greece is an indispensable partner in attacking all of this, so we want Greece to be as strong and effective as possible because the more Greece can carry that burden, the less that we have to do the less that other of our NATO allies have to deal with that.

To finish up on a similar note, I would emphasize, I really appreciated what Ambassador Plotner said this morning on the question of transatlantic relations, and I’ve been, as you know, Tom, I’ve been doing this for about 30 years, and the one thing that I have seen across my very diverse diplomatic career working in a whole bunch of different regions, the first place we look when an international challenge arises, is Europe because it’s a region that shares our values, it shares our strategic interests, and it’s also, and this is something that I think European sometimes don’t appreciate.  There is a very thick web of institutional relationships with NATO, with OSCE, this whole alphabet soup of institutions which we together have helped to build since 1945.

Having spent a lot of time in Asia as well, the first thing you see when you work on problems in Asia is where’s NATO?  Where’s OSCE?  Where are the institutions that work on this?  And you don’t have that.  So that institutional architecture is real, and it’s one of the reasons that getting the transatlantic relationship right is so important to long-term American and European security.

Kathimerini:  I have to, as a European, note that a lot of Europeans are wondering, and that’s really what the thinking is in the President’s mind when he is Tweeting in a disrespectful way, I would say, for the President of France, for what France stands for American democracy and for the European ability project.  For [inaudible] and we’re in a situation where you and other, I don’t want to make your life difficult, but most of the diplomats I’ve known in the last decades are pro-Atlantic, this relationship scheme you just mentioned.  I’m not sure if the President shares that thinking, given the fact that he [inaudible] the Prime Minister of Montenegro in a certain way, and he’s Tweeting about Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Macron in another way.  But that’s not you.  It’s your President, and you don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to.  I just wanted to mention it because rightly so you mentioned how good the relation between U.S. and Europeans should be and is, but a lot of us are wondering lately really what’s the message that’s coming out from the White House.  That’s my thinking, and that’s the closing of this discussion in a nice diplomatic way.  [Inaudible].

Ambassador Pyatt:  I get the last work on this.  I’m just going to say that if you look on my  Twitter account you’ll see a picture that I put up on Armistice Day, on Sunday.  The picture of my grandfather in his U.S. Army uniform, taken I think in the spring of 1918 in France.  And like many, many Europeans of his generation, he left Europe, went to the United States.  He was born in Inverness, went to the United States, New York City, Ellis Island, seeking a better future, and found himself back on a boat as part of the 1st World War.  I think those familial and historic ties are what will ultimately define our destiny.  Clearly the world has become a more complicated place.  Nobody in my grandfather’s generation was thinking about what it means to have a globally present China, or the fact that 300 million Indian people are now part of the middle class global economy.  But that European and transatlantic relationship I think remains strong.

Kathimerini:  Thank you very much.  On that high note I thank you.

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