By Nick Larigakis
Special to the Greek News
Overall, AHI expects the U.S.-Greece relationship to continue to build on an already sturdy foundation as a result of the prime minister’s visit. I would hope that topics such as defense cooperation, economic investment, and energy security to be discussed at various meetings.
Further, we would expect a substantive discussion on defense cooperation with the United States. Defense cooperation has been strong, but there is room for enhancement. Despite Greece’s economic difficulties, it continues to be of vital geostrategic importance for the projection of U.S. interests because of its geographic location and its strong, unwavering support for NATO. Greece is home to the most important naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, on the island of Crete. Therefore, it is important that the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA), which governs the U.S.’ use of the facilities at NSA Souda Bay, to continue to be an important topic of discussion.
Finally, I believe, the visit will aim to demonstrate Greece is on the path to economic recovery and stability. It, therefore, must demonstrate it is becoming a more favorable landing spot for foreign direct investment, especially to U.S. companies. The United States must continue be supportive of Greece’s process because it is in the United States’ best interest for Greece to succeed. The United States can help by continuing to urge creditors to Greece’s path until recovery is attainable. The administration can also help by reversing its position on the elimination of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). AHI backed successfully a policy shift that stated OPIC is authorized do business in Greece if there are “strong development or foreign policy reasons to proceed.” The policy objective was aimed to help spur commerce investment in Greece as Greece endures its economic crisis. Regarding energy exploration and security, AHI expects Greece to convey its challenges to claim its full exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that would allow Greece to understand the hydrocarbon reserves it could potentially exploit for the betterment of its economy.
*** Nick Larigakis is the President of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI)