Αξιότιμες κυρίες και κύριοι καλημέρα σας,
Καταρχάς, θα ήθελα να σας ευχαριστήσω για την τιμή και την πρόσκληση που μου κάνατε να παρευρεθώ κι εγώ στο συνέδριο /και να συζητήσω μαζί σας τις απόψεις της χώρας μου σε θέματα που αφορούν την Άμυνα και την Ασφάλεια.
Είμαι σίγουρος ότι στο τέλος του συνεδρίου, μέσα απο τον διάλογο και την ανταλλαγή απόψεων, όλοι μας θα βγούμε λίγο σοφότεροι, όσον αφορά τις προκλήσεις που αντιμετωπίζουν σήμερα οι ΗΠΑ και η Ελλάδα σ’ ένα δυσκολο γεω-πολιτικό και οικονομικό περιβάλλον.
Thank you for that kind introduction. Thank you to the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce for organizing the event. It’s conferences like these where a lot of the real work in international relations happens.
The theme of this conference is meeting future challenges in defense and security policy. So I will discuss a few of the things that are on our minds in the U.S., and a bit about where we see both challenges and opportunities.
Less than two weeks ago President Obama visited Europe to attend the Nuclear Security Summit. On that trip he also met with EU leaders to discuss critical security issues in the region. Last month, the newest aircraft carrier in the world, the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush, made a port call to Piraeus. And, in just the last few months Greece has hosted multiple branches of the U.S. military for trainings on land, sea, and air, with more planned for the summer. In sum, for the United States, Europe is front and center.
I want to highlight a few things that President Obama said in his speech to the EU in Brussels. He said that we must never take for granted the progress that has been won here in Europe and advanced around the world, because the contest of ideas continues through the next generation. He reminded us that it was only a few weeks ago that certain truths seemed self-evident, that the borders of Europe would never again be redrawn by force, that international law prevailed, that nations determined their own future.
He was talking about events in Ukraine of course, but what he said is relevant here because the U.S. and Greece are allies, friends, and partners. For more than 60 years we have come together in NATO not to claim other lands but to meet the challenge to keep nations free. And for even longer the U.S. and Greece have come together in other ways: the free exchange of ideas, travel by our citizens, and also trade of our goods and services.
Much of what we all do around the world depends on mutual economic strength, from investing in each other’s countries, to aiding development, to responding to humanitarian crises anywhere around the globe. So it’s really necessary to speak of commerce at a security conference because economic difficulties on either side of the Atlantic can and do challenge our collective security.
If you look at the trade numbers, they are staggering. The United States and Europe have the largest trade relationship in the world. We are each other’s largest trade partner, with transatlantic trade reaching nearly 2 billion dollars per day. The U.S. invests three times more in the EU than in all of Asia, while EU investment in the United States is almost eight times its investment in India and China put together. We have deep and longstanding trade and investment links that support millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
I know that most all of you know that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is currently under negotiation. T-TIP, as it’s often called, will promote trade, investment, and innovation while maintaining high standards for safety, the environment, and labor. It will support thousands of new jobs for young people. T-TIP can be for our economic health what NATO has been to our shared security for over six decades: a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. T-TIP is a lot more than a trade agreement. It is a political and strategic bet we are placing on each other and on our shared future.
Cyber defense is another challenge for NATO, and for Europe. (And I see you have a whole session devoted to this.) The nature of our globalized world means that we must work together to protect our internet connections and mobile phones, protect the local networks in our schools and hospitals and businesses, and ensure the safety of the massive grids that bring us our gas and electricity. It involves protecting classified military and intelligence networks that keep us safe, and shielding the World Wide Web that has made us more interconnected than at any time in human history.
It means working with allies on international norms of acceptable behavior in cyberspace, strengthening law enforcement capabilities against cybercrime, and deterring potential adversaries from taking advantage of our remaining vulnerabilities.
In considering how to confront these various security challenges, President Obama’s key message has been this: that every NATO member must step up and carry its share of the burden by showing the political will to invest in our collective defense and by developing the capabilities to serve as a source of international peace and security.
From the U.S. perspective, recent events have shown that the challenge of building a Europe that is free and at peace is ongoing. In order to meet today’s challenges America needs a strong Europe, and Europe needs a strong America. Turning inward is not an option for any of us, and leading means committing resources even in a difficult time.
What is the U.S. doing to handle future security challenges? Recently the President directed our armed services to undertake a comprehensive strategic review so that our defense budget is driven by a clear strategy that reflects our national interests, and creates a military force that can meet future challenges. We will focus on modernization to deal with emerging threats like some of the ones I’ve mentioned here today, as well as enhancing capabilities related to counterterrorism and countering weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. military is reshaping its forces to have a properly sized, balanced, and flexible force, one that ensures an effective deterrent in the face of evolving challenges and developments. As part of that reform, the United States will invest more in critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again that it is a force multiplier.
We can’t talk about challenges, though, without noting that there are also opportunities. TTIP, of course, is on major opportunity. But there are also real opportunities for greater peace and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean. Relations have improved substantially between Greece and Israel. There are positive signs between Greece and Turkey as well, especially on the level of business and tourism. And in Cyprus, we’re seeing increased momentum in both communities in favor of a solution and achieving a untied island. This has high-level interest and support in Washington. All of these things are important trends, trends we should encourage. So I am glad to see you have a session later today on Greece-Cyprus-Israel.
A united Cyprus, for example, could unlock greater regional energy cooperation, as we know there is natural gas potential near Cyprus, near Create, and in the Ionian Sea. Another opportunity comes with the TAP pipeline from Azerbaijan that will transit Greece. And, Greece itself has huge potential in sections such as tourism, agribusiness, and information technology – not to mention shipping, since trade agreements and regional stability likely could very well mean Greek ships would carry more commerce.
So, as we noted before, commerce affects security and vice versa. Taking advantage of economic opportunities leads to greater security.
Finally, I would just like to note once again that the U.S. recognizes the tremendous sacrifices of the Greek people over the past five years. We will do our best to work with the government and people of Greece for a future of stability and prosperity. We want to see Greece emerge from its economic crisis stronger – a stable country playing a stabilizing role in southeastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.
Being allies and friends means more than just having our militaries train together. It means that we devote energies to both our economic relationship and our security partnership.
Αγαπητές φίλες και φίλοι,
Κλείνοντας, θα ήθελα να επαναλάβω κάτι που όλοι μας γνωρίζουμε πολύ καλά: η Ελλάδα και η Αμερική ιστορικά ήταν, είναι, και θα είναι στενοί φίλοι και καλοί σύμμαχοι. Οι χώρες μας μοιράζονται κοινές αξίες/ και η μία στέκεται στο πλευρό της άλλης/ σε καλούς, αλλά και δύσκολους καιρούς./ Είμαι βέβαιος οτι οι προκλήσεις/ που αντιμετωπίζουμε απο κοινού σήμερα στη διεθνή σκηνή /, θα ενδυναμώσουν ακόμη περισσότερο/ τους ισχυρούς μας δεσμούς/ και θα φέρουν τους δύο λαούς μας /ακόμη πιο κοντά.
Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ και καλή συνέχεια!