Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Athens
February 22, 2017, 3:45 p.m.
Good afternoon everybody. First of all, let me welcome you all, our international partners from around the world, here to Athens. I know that many of you have travelled great distances to come here and I’m glad the city is putting on such a wonderful show – in terms of the weather and the welcome that you’re enjoying. I also want to thank, especially, our partners from the Greek government – from the Finance Ministry, Department of Customs, and also from the Greek Atomic Energy Commission.
As Kelly noted in her introduction, I spent three years of my diplomatic career at our mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. So, I spent a lot of time working on issues of nuclear security, nuclear smuggling, international regimes, and international guidelines. But I also learned what’s, probably, the most important lesson which is that our work on these transnational challenges depends crucially on the quality of our international partnerships. So I am very, very proud of the work that we do with all of our partners around the world and I want to particularly acknowledge the importance of the partnership that we have here with our Greek allies.
I’m also delighted to support this program in the context of my support to the work of the U.S. Department of Energy. I have worked an awful lot with DOE throughout my diplomatic career, which is almost 30 years now, going back to my time at our Embassy in New Delhi but, obviously, including the time I spent in Vienna where we had a very intensive collaboration with the Department of Energy. I would host then-Secretary Chu at least once a year and his colleagues every single day of the week. But then, also, in my previous job in Ukraine where I was lucky to have a strong Department of Energy contingent at post and had really excellent support from Secretary Moniz and from the whole Department.
So, I was especially pleased when I moved here to Athens to discover what a strong partnership we have with the Department of Energy here in Greece as well. And the 14 year history of collaboration that we have between Greece and the United States on issues that are central to the Department of Energy mission.
I want to underline how much my colleagues at the Department of Energy and all of us, of course, at the Embassy value our partnerships with colleagues in Greek Customs and the Greek Atomic Energy Commission and our joint collaboration on nuclear detection and deterrence. This is just one facet of a very long history of collaboration between our governments on security issues. Through the Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence Program, the Department of Energy has invested over $20 million in Greece just since 2003. So we have a very strong record of partnership.
It was just last week, at the border crossing point with Turkey, near Kipoi, where Greece began formal operation of radiation detection equipment that was supplied and constructed by the Department of Energy. That event was widely reported in local media and highlighted the strength of our bilateral collaboration on these critical issues.
I really want to applaud Greece for being a model partner with the United States on this program, which is, I would imagine, one of the reasons why the Department of Energy is conducting this training program for our other international partners here in Athens. Aside from the fact that it’s a beautiful city!
By coming to Athens this week, you all demonstrate your commitment to enhancing the nuclear deterrence and detection capacity of your countries and to creating a safer and more secure world for all of us through international cooperation. Speaking in my role as Ambassador here in Greece, I can assure you that we remain strongly focused on continuing our great work with Greek Customs and the Greek Atomic Energy Commission and I count on continued benefits for both of our countries from that collaboration.
So, I thank you all for inviting me to be with you today. I wish you a very productive two following days of discussion, tomorrow and the day after. And I really hope you enjoy your time here in Athens because it really is a beautiful city. So, thank you very much.