SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, thank you. Good evening, everyone. Kalispera. Yeah? All right. One for one. (Laughter.)
I want to welcome my guests:
The prime minister of the Hellenic Republic, my friend, Prime Minister Mitsotakis – welcome – and his wife, Mareva. Right over there, Mareva, good to see you again. Welcome.
My friends, the Pences. The Vice President, Karen, welcome to you as well. Welcome to the State Department. (Applause.)
And I also want to say thanks to the outgoing Greek Ambassador to the United States, Haris Lalakos. Where is he? There, right back there. Congratulations. Good to see you. Welcome. (Applause.)
I want to thank all of our friends who are here tonight from the Greek American community.
I had the great trip to go to Athens back in October. It seems like a long time ago.
It was everything that the country is storied for:
Great beauty, warm people, good friends, and everywhere the eye could see, powerful reminders of everything that has Hellenic roots, like democracy, the arts, and Christianity.
We saw people waving as we walked on a very warm day and drove through the streets adjoining the Plaka after we had the chance to visit the beautiful Athens Cathedral.
Susan was with me. We had a wonderful breakfast with the prime minister and Mrs. Mitsotakis. Seeing the sun’s first rays hit the Acropolis was really something quite special.
And I was privileged, too, to speak from the top floor of the Niarchos Lighthouse. It was a beautiful building. For those of you who have not had the chance to see it, it is a true gem – architectural gem and a beautiful city and a beautiful building.
It was truly stirring to me to be in the very city where the roots of democracy were put down more than two millennia ago to contemplate how the noble ideas born in the Agora are the foundation of the American Government.
It was, too, inspiring when I talked with my Greek friends, the Greek counterparts, was the confirmation of the great relationship between our two countries. It’s been good; it is now fantastic. It is important.
We’re expanding our cooperation on energy, together, growing friendships.
We’re supporting Greece as a pillar of the security in the Eastern Mediterranean. Our militaries are working together more closely than ever before.
Greece even hosted our troops for a Thanksgiving meal on one of your bases in 2018, and we thank you for that.
I heard American and Greek soldiers smashed plates on the ground that night in the traditional Greek style. I was a young soldier too. I was breaking plates for different reasons. (Laughter.) We’re not going to end the celebration tonight with that unless one of you all brought the plates. (Laughter.)
And we’re enthused about the work that the prime minister is doing – the reforms he’s bringing to the Greek economy. We’ve seen in our country, as our President has lowered taxes, put fewer regulations in place, created a great opportunity for risk-takers and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, what that means for every citizen of our country. I know that will happen in Greece as well.
Think about the welcome turn of events: Greece is truly showing all of Europe the way forward on economic prosperity. That’s truly remarkable, Mr. Prime Minister. (Applause.)
As for the U.S. Government, we will keep supporting you as a leader in Europe.
We’ll keep supporting your prosperity, your security, and your democracy.
The future will only grow brighter for our countries and our relationship together.
So if we could, a toast, please. Here we go. Right there, all right. There we go. Yeah. (Laughter.) So please – please, please, please join me in a toast – yeah. (Laughter.) I think that was my ambassador who said the whole thing, yeah. Please join me in a toast honoring the prime minister and Mrs. Mitsotakis, and to our Greek friends and our future together:
PRIME MINISTER MITSOTAKIS: I chose a Californian white to reciprocate the favor. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Come on, Mr. Vice President.
(The Vice President gave remarks.)
PRIME MINISTER MITSOTAKIS: Thank you. Thank you, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo. Ladies and gentlemen, what a wonderful welcome. I’m deeply honored for this beautiful reception and all the kind words you offered us. My wife, Mareva, and myself had 72 fantastic hours in the United States. We started with a beautiful trip to Florida, to Tarpon Springs, where we saw firsthand how strong the Greek American community is. (Applause.) There you go. (Laughter.) And we had two very productive days of meetings in Washington, at the White House, on the Hill, with American think tanks, engaging with you, potential investors, the Greek American community.
You’re absolutely right, Mr. Vice President, Secretary – this relationship was never stronger. I am very proud to be leading Greece in these historic times for our bilateral relations, a relationship that can only go from strength to strength. And we had a chance during these two days to talk about a whole lot of issues, starting from the geopolitical situation in our region, the challenges that we face. I was very glad to hear you reaffirming what should be a very obvious fact: that Greece was, is, and will remain the most reliable ally that the United States will have in this part of the world. (Applause and cheers.) And we’re convinced that the United States will stand by Greece when it fights for its rights, when it protects our own sovereign rights. But it will also stand by us as we look into the future, as we focus on economic growth, creating prosperity for all Greeks.
Mr. Vice President, you’re right to point out that when you cut taxes, when you cut red tape, when you deregulate, when you let entrepreneurship flourish, very good things happen to an economy. It’s the same – it happened here. It’s also happening in Greece. And the Greek economy will grow from strength to strength. And we invite American investors to take part in this new chapter for our country.
But this is also a story about shared values. You’re right to point out that the founding fathers were very much inspired by the values of classical Greece, of Athenian democracy. And as we enter 2020, one should remember that this is also an important date, as we are celebrating 2,500 years from the historic battles of Thermopylae and Salamis, the battles that essentially allowed free Greece to flourish and create the classical civilization which served as a basis of inspiration for the entire world.
But the Greek founding fathers of the Greek War of Independence, the Greek Revolution, were also inspired by the American Revolution, and took faith in what happened in the United States 40 years earlier. And next year is also a monumental date for Greece, as we will be celebrating 200 years since the beginning of the Greek Revolution – a story of courage, a story of freedom, a story of a small people who rose in one corner of the Ottoman Empire to establish the first free and independent state in this part of the world. And during those 200 years, our country has gone through many adventures. We’ve faced catastrophes and triumphs, but hopefully we are now ready to write a new chapter in our history. And as we enter the third decade of the 21st century, I’m sure this is going to be a decade of prosperity and of great success for my country.
So I would like once more to thank you for your kind hospitality. I have to thank everyone who’s attending this beautiful reception in this historic building, and let me add one more toast – (laughter) – again, with ouzo – to this most enduring and important strategic friendship between Greece and the United States. Yiamas (inaudible).
SECRETARY POMPEO: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for those kind words. Mr. Vice President, thank you too for being here. No more toasts; I’ve got work left to do tonight. (Laughter.) But I wanted to thank you all so much for being here. This is very special for the State Department, to be able to host. My instructions here say that I’m supposed to encourage you to have a good time. I think you all got that figured out. (Laughter.) So welcome, please enjoy, and may God bless the United States and Greece and our wonderful relationship. Thank you. (Applause.)