Investments and Partnerships on a Dynamic Trajectory
Interview with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt by Dimitris Diamantidis
American Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt highlighted the significant prospects for increased collaboration between Greece and the U.S. in connection with his country’s role as Honored Country at the 83rd TIF, scheduled for 8-16 September 2018, adding that America’s participation in the Fair would focus on the sectors of technology, tourism, education and health.
What’s the message transmitted by the participation of the United States as honored country at the 2018 TIF?
We are very proud to step into the role of honored country at the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which demonstrates the fact that U.S.-Greece relations are at a historical high point. President Trump, in accepting this status from Prime Minister Tsipras last October, spoke of building on our “foundation of shared history and shared values to pursue a future of security, prosperity, and peace.” The TIF will serve as watershed moment in this effort. It will reflect the steady and strong support the U.S. has given Greece throughout the crisis and our mutual readiness now to turn the corner. TIF will bring together the range of American companies exploring opportunities in Greece with Greek businesses and consumers ready for a full return to global markets in 2018. We firmly believe that no one has more to offer than U.S. business, and the U.S. plans to play an important part in the Greek and regional market. The TIF will provide us with the best venue for us to showcase this message along with American technology, enterprise, and innovation, and, given its important geostrategic location in Greece’s North, it will provide us a chance to demonstrate our ironclad commitment to northern Greece and the Balkan region as well.
What sectors of the U.S. economy will be represented in the TIF?
Our theme at the American Pavilion will be “Harnessing Innovation,” and so we will showcase the sectors where U.S. ingenuity has made a real global impact – most notably in technology, health, tourism, and education. We are also sure to see strong representation from our substantial Greek-American business community, which in many ways has led the charge in keeping investment in Greece high on the American business agenda.
What prospects do you see opening in the direction of developing economic and investment relations between Greece and U.S.?
I think we’ve seen investments of increasing significance flowing between the U.S. and Greece this past year. A few notable examples of this include the vast Calamos investment in Ethniki Asfalistiki, the efforts of Onex to invest in the Neorion Shipyards, Avis’s re-acquisition of its Greek branch, and the substantial Morgan Stanley investment in Korres. I hope in 2018, we’ll also see American Liquefied Natural Gas flowing to Greece, movement on the Hellenikon real estate development, American investment in the port of Alexandroupoli and other significant projects. And I would also highlight Greek company GEK Terna’s investment in building a wind farm in Texas, the work of northern Greece firm Pyramis in producing sinks for Ikea’s stores in the U.S., and the very innovative agreement between Mytilineos and GE to improve smelting technology and build a refinery in Libya. I see vast potential for investments and agreements of this nature to expand and multiply.
Do you believe that there are areas of cooperation between the two countries that can be enhanced in the near future?
Certainly. I would mention specifically two sectors, defense and energy, where I think our cooperation continues to grow in ways that are critical for advancing our mutual goals in terms of global security and peace. On the defense side, we have our Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay, which has proven time and again its critical value to both our countries in promoting stability in this region. This strategic base, which is a testament to our deep level of bilateral cooperation, enables us to service Sixth Fleet ships and aircraft on missions throughout the region. It is likely to get busier in the future, given the instability that Greece faces on its borders and NATO’s robust role in promoting peace and security in this region. I would also emphasize how our cooperation continues to expand, specifically in last year’s pioneering operation at the port of Alexandroupoli, where American UH-60 Black Hawks from NATO exercises in Romania were transferred via the port to their home base in the U.S., which demonstrated how we could best use existing resources in a bilateral and multilateral context. On energy, we fully support Greece’s goal to be an energy hub, and whether it is cooperation on realizing the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) or the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), our mutual commitment to ensuring a diversity of sources for the region’s energy needs is evident. I believe there is plenty of potential to further enhance our cooperation to secure Europe’s energy supplies by decreasing its dependence on a single supplier.