Business Day: Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt

October 3, 2017

Ambassador Pyatt:  We’re delighted to have you here today.  It’s the first time that the Embassy is doing one of these Business Day events, and it’s a terrific opportunity for us to continue the Embassy’s work on what has been my highest priority as American Ambassador for our bilateral relationship over the past year, which is to support in any way we can Greece’s efforts to emerge from this eight-year period of economic crisis and to be the strong economically prosperous European democracy that the United States wants as a partner here in Greece.

We want to see Greece grow, and I have been impressed over my first year as Ambassador by the enormous potential of this country, the entrepreneurial capacity of its young people, the really spectacular resources in terms of climate, in terms of food, in terms of geography.  The strategic geography of Greece is something not to be overlooked.  And I am convinced that the story of economic recovery in Greece is going to be written by young people like yourselves.  So I’m very pleased that the Embassy is able to have you over here today.

I spent a lot of time over the past 12 months in my travels around Greece meeting with entrepreneurs, business people, start-ups.  I think one of the really untold stories of Greece today is the success of innovators:  like the people I’ve seen, for instance, at the Foundation for Research and Technology in Heraklion; like some of the young people I met in the startup community at Patras, around the university, who are developing globally competitive products, who are partnering in their research with firms across Europe, and are innovating and commercializing those innovations in a way that is going to be key to the long-term success of the Greek economy.

One of the things that this startup sector leverages, of course, is Greece’s tremendous human capital.  And the Embassy has been doing a lot in recent years to partner with local organizations to help young people, students, people like yourselves to develop the tools that they need to be successful in this interconnected, knowledge-based economy that we all live in today.

You’re going to hear from a lot of my Embassy colleagues over the course of the day today.  I’m very proud of the team that we have here, the work that we do, our economic section, our political section, our commercial section, the consular team.  Our job across the board is to build the strongest possible partnership between the United States and Greece, a country which is a NATO ally.  We are sworn to come to each other’s assistance.

The United States has invested here over a very long period of time.  We just celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan.  We have a statue of Secretary of State Marshall out in front of the Embassy, and you’re welcome to take a picture by it.  That’s a reminder of how the United States has stood with the people of Greece, even in this country’s most difficult moments after the 2nd World War.

One of the things I’m very proud of is the work that our public affairs section in particular has done, working with entrepreneurship groups here in Greece.  The MIT Enterprise Forum, Mindspace Foundation, Entrepreneurs Organization, and of course the Panorama of Entrepreneurship to bring U.S. expertise, U.S. mentors, U.S. entrepreneurs to Greece to share experiences, to provide support, and to provide a venue for networking.  Because I’ve found as I’ve talked to entrepreneurs from around Greece, one of the things that’s lacking right now is venues for people who are innovating in Thessaloniki or Patra to compare notes with their colleagues from Trikala or Athens and then figure out how they overcome shared challenges.

We are also very proud, and I’m very proud, of the work that we’ve done to organize exchanges.  Things like the annual delegations to South by Southwest in Austin and other opportunities which create venues for networking between Greek entrepreneurs and their American counterparts.  And I’m very glad that Dimitri from Panorama was one of our delegates to South by Southwest this year.  I’m sure he’ll have a little bit to share with you about that experience.

We also depend on our cooperation with Diaspora organizations:  groups like the Hellenic Initiative, the Hellenic Enterprise Award, Libra Group and others that help connect the Greek-American community with the new entrepreneurial generation in Greece.

The real success story of the U.S. economy is our entrepreneurship sector — the ability to try and fail, and then try again and succeed.  And a lot of those successful entrepreneurs in the United States are Greek-Americans.  They’re eager to give back.  They’re eager to share experiences.  And so our public affairs team has worked very hard to create opportunities for sharing some of those experiences.

I know you’ll also hear from Artemis about the Fulbright Commission and the work we do there.  Fulbright creates opportunities for dozens of Greek students every year to pursue graduate studies in the United States, and I know that later in your program today you’ll be able to hear more about opportunities to study in the U.S.

I’ll finish up my remarks and then we’ve got a little bit of time for question and answer.  What I want to underline is my personal commitment, the Embassy’s commitment to continue to engage strongly on these entrepreneurship issues.  We see this as one of the ways that we can contribute to economic recovery in Greece and help to ensure the American goal of seeing Greece emerge from this crisis.

I hope very much that you’ll find the presentations today useful toward that effort, and I want to thank Professor Ladopoulos and all the rest of the team for helping to organize today’s event.

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