Launch of Digital Communication Network (DCN) Southeast Europe Hub

December 13, 2019

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Remarks by Consul General Gregory Pfleger

Καλησπέρα σε όλες και όλους. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much for having me here as the Consul General of the United States in Thessaloniki. It is a tremendous honor, honestly, and on behalf of the Ambassador, myself, the Embassy, the Consulate, and Washington, D.C., as well, as I hope you’ll see soon enough, the excitement that we feel for this hub, for the Digital Communication Network hub in Southeast Europe here in Thessaloniki is real and strong.

I’d like to stress how important we see this to our own work. I arrived here just before the Thessaloniki International Fair in September 2018, and we had the DCN event there, and it really grew from there in response to the grassroots need—and here I want to recognize Professor Panagiotou—the grassroots need that Nikos has kept an eye on, and his crucial and consistent focus on disinformation, misinformation, and malign information has been so important to the work that we see here in Greece and in the region as a whole. I’ll let Frank talk more about the DCN hub itself, but the networking, the connections, the support that we hope this hub will provide are so very important to how we address an increasingly complicated world.

As the world becomes more complicated, I have to admit it’s natural that we all seek means to understand it, and often we fall into the path of least resistance, listening to echo chambers and hearing the same information over and over again, and it’s just simpler that way. But sometimes we have to stop and think and realize that there is no substitute for knowledge. There is no substitute for expertise. There is no substitute for experience, for logic, for facts, and for truth. And that’s how we generate the positive stories that build and support our prosperous, our democratic, and our shared stability and shared future. That’s why I’m so excited that Facebook, Atlantic Council, and our own U.S. Government representatives from the U.S. Agency for Global Media, from the Global Engagement Center, are joining Nikos, are joining the DCN and sharing that expertise and that knowledge in response to the grassroots need identified by Professor Pangiotou.

Allow me also to say a word about Thessaloniki and hosting the Digital Communication Network hub for Southeast Europe here in Thessaloniki. I mean, Thessaloniki is the perfect place to have this hub. It is a historic and a historical crossroads where we’ve seen a blending of ideas, culture, and people over history. It’s a pillar of stability in an increasingly complicated region to project that stability outwards to its neighbors. It’s a university town, and I look out and I see so many young faces—It’s a university town, full of vibrancy, full of vitality, that makes those connections so fundamental to keeping the momentum that we see generated today.

And that recognition of Thessaloniki’s importance is seen throughout all of our partners. We see it in the opening of innovation centers by Cisco and Pfizer hopefully soon. We see it in the work done by OK!Thess as an incubator here in Thessaloniki. We see it in the Deloitte center here, encouraging innovation and excellence. All of these sectors, working together, are necessary in order to address, as I said at the beginning, the increasingly complicated world that we now live in. And so that’s why I’m glad to see all of our partners here today, why I’m grateful for the partnership we have with Aristotle University, but especially the partnership we have with you, Nikos. And I welcome the expertise and support of our partners in the Atlantic Council and Facebook as well. This is a very important area of focus for the U.S. Government, for the Ambassador, for myself, for Washington, D.C. And as you will see as we go forward in support of this project, we know how vital this endeavor is to our joint, positive future.