Deputy Chief of Mission David Burger Remarks  University of Athens – Harvard University   Launch of the Refugee and Migration Studies Hub

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
As Prepared

Kalispera!  It is a pleasure to join you today for this milestone event that enhances the academic partnerships between U.S. and Greek universities.

Ambassador Pyatt apologizes for not being able to attend due to a previous commitment, and he sends his warmest wishes for a great start for this partnership.

Harvard University and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens are the oldest universities in the United States and Greece, respectively.  And they are both leading academic and research institutions.  So they seem like natural partners in a global, interdisciplinary program addressing one of the most pressing issues of our times.

I would like to congratulate both institutions for joining forces to launch the Refugee and Migration Studies Hub.  The need for immediate support and integration of refugees and migrants is an important part of the social justice agenda of the Biden administration.  The United States has also been the largest donor to the UNHCR steadily for the last few years.  UNHCR uses that money to support refugee organizations and programs throughout the world.

We will be looking forward to learning from you, the faculty, the staff, and the students, who will join the projects and the initiatives of the Hub.  And, importantly, we need to learn from the refugees and migrants themselves.  Their voices must be part of this process.

In 2021, the United States and Greece celebrated 200 years of friendship, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Greek revolution.  With partnerships like this one, it is clear that the people-to-people ties lead our friendship, and we are confident that the academic institutions and the youth of our countries will advance our cooperation even further in the future.

To that end, we are happy to partner with Minister Kerameus and share her vision for university extroversion and internationalization, paving the way for even more synergies.  We support this vision, and are proud that the Ministry has prioritized the United States as a top partner for Greek universities.

One critical component of our collaboration is the launch of the International Academic Partnership Program.  Two years ago, we were preparing to welcome the U.S. delegation of the IAPP to Greece.  Although the pandemic interrupted the plan, we are happy to see that the participating universities built on the momentum, albeit virtually, leading to partnerships and events like the one we are celebrating today.

The numbers show us that U.S. students prioritize studying abroad in Greece, and similarly Greek students look to the United States for their studies as well.  I hope that the Refugee and Migration Studies Hub will provide additional opportunities for more exchanges, easier mobility, and the sharing of values and ideas.  And I am sure that its outcomes will greatly benefit the most marginalized and underprivileged populations in need.

From Ambassador Pyatt and our entire team at the U.S. Embassy, I would like to congratulate you again for this endeavor and wish you the best for a bright and rich academic future.