By Basil Mossaidis
Special to the Greek News
AHEPA welcomes the high-level engagement between longtime NATO allies United States and Greece that the visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras represents, especially with a new administration in Washington. AHEPA expects the prime minister’s visit will serve to build upon a sturdy foundation and bolster the U.S.-Greece partnership in key sectors, including defense cooperation and security, energy, and business investment and partnerships.
On multiple occasions, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt has described Greece as a “pillar of stability.” As one of five NATO countries to meet the minimum standard of 2% of GDP on defense spending, Greece has proven itself to be a steady, reliable NATO partner in an increasingly dangerous world. Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, Crete, which is hosted by the Hellenic Armed Forces, is an important asset in support of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO assets. As such, the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), which governs the United States’ use of the facilities at NSA Souda Bay, is an agreement that has been renewed on an annual basis. Although the annual renewal is welcomed, AHEPA would like to see the U.S. and Greece lay the groundwork to reach a more long-term commitment, perhaps a five-year agreement, and AHEPA’s expectation is for this important idea to be discussed next week. Also, the U.S. government should commit to an increased investment in Greece’s International Military, Education and Training (IMET) program, which would send a certain signal the U.S. backs strengthened military-to-military cooperation with Greece.
When Fitch raised Greece’s debt rating in August, it was an indication that Greece’s economic/business climate is showing signs of stability and rebounding. Reforms are working. Therefore, the U.S. and U.S. companies must continue to lead by example with foreign direct investment in Greece, much like EXIN Group recently did. AHEPA’s expectations are for the prime minister, and his accompanying delegation, to convey confidence that Greece is creating the proper business climate to attract additional foreign direct investment to support Greece’s economy and Greek innovation.
It is AHEPA’s expectation that the fragility of the EU-Turkey refugee deal be raised. The refugee/migratory crisis that has overwhelmed Greece can quickly escalate at a moment’s notice should the deal fail to hold. The United States must continue to provide technical expertise from federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, to help Greece manage the crisis.
Finally, AHEPA is committed to serving as a bridge that ensures the U.S.-Greece partnership flourishes. AHEPA hopes Prime Minister Tsipras’ visit affords the opportunity to update the prime minister on AHEPA’s philanthropic, humanitarian, including public health; and community service programs in Greece that are helping to strengthen the fabric of Greek society.
*** Basil Mossaidis is the Executive Director of the AHEPA