The MET Hotel
February 4, 2019
Καλησπέρα σας, χρόνια πολλά! It is a tremendous pleasure for me to be back in Thessaloniki, a very special city for me and for the entire U.S. Mission team here in Greece. I want to say what a pleasure it is to see so many friends from northern Greece here this evening. I want in particular to single out and congratulate General Koutras, who is here in his new capacity, a very important one, as the head of the NATO NRDC, someone we worked with and appreciated in his Athens capacity as well.
As always, our Consul General here Greg Pfleger has kept me very busy today in Thessaloniki, but I finish the day with a renewed sense of optimism about Thessaloniki, about the whole region of Greek Macedonia and about the prospects for continuing to grow the very important trade and commercial element of our bilateral relationship.
In that context, I want to take a moment this evening to thank Simos, Nikos, and the entire AmCham team, especially the northern Greece committee. Without the hard work that all of you have invested, we would not have accomplished so much this past year. So thank you. I also want to acknowledge our entire Consulate team, whose close ties with all of you here this evening are the real proof – the enduring basis – of just how solid the American relationship with northern Greece is.
Last year was about building the foundations for American investment interest in northern Greece. Today, those foundations are as strong as they’ve ever been – and I’d add, as a direct result of hard work by many of you in the room tonight.
Thessaloniki – a great, dynamic, and cosmopolitan city – has re-emerged as a gateway, a crossroads, a window to the entire region of the western Balkans. This past year has shown just how much Washington and the whole world is paying attention to Thessaloniki.
I speak from experience. Greece’s growing stature in this region has opened eyes to what Thessaloniki has to offer. And now, Washington is particularly focused on northern Greece as we seek to develop the economic opportunities unlocked by the long-sought resolution of the name issue.
From the Thessaloniki International Fair in September to the Strategic Dialogue in December, the United States has demonstrated that we are here and invested in your success.
I’ve had the good fortune today in Thessaloniki to discuss the economic and commercial opportunities we see with a wide range of friends and contacts to talk about the possibilities for northern Greece as an energy hub, an exporter of security and stability, and a business gateway to the wider region. I leave with a sense of renewed possibility.
And so I’d like to close with a toast to our hosts, Simos, to Nikos, to Nikos Avrapoulou and the entire AmCham team here in Thessaloniki, for all the work that you have done, for the small miracle of TIF 2018, and for my hope that 2019 truly will be the year of major U.S. investment in Greece. I wish everyone here a wonderful new year.
Καλή χρονιά! And especially to my friend Simos, Χρόνια πολλά.