The United States believes that “Greece is turning a corner and showing significant progress, which you can see through economic indicators,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Cohen told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on the sidelines of his visit to Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The American official stressed that the United States “means business in Greece,” noting that American companies are coming to Greece for the trade fair “because they see opportunities”.
Cohen pointed out that TIF “is an opportunity to promote the American brand throughout Greece and the region” and hailed the cooperation with TIF’s officials regarding the preparations of the US participation at the Fair.
The U.S. official, who accompanied Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Minister Nikos Pappas in his visit to the US last February, said that the visit provided “a great example of cooperation on an issue of mutual interest, getting the best U.S. businesses we possibly could to participate in the Thessaloniki International Fair”.
ANA: What is the main goal regarding the US presence in Thessaloniki’s Ιnternational Fair this year as the “honored country”?
Cohen: Well, first it’s a great privilege for us to be the honored country at this year’s Thessaloniki International Fair; and that honor reflects the strength of the US-Greek relationship, and our hopes and intentions for the future. The United States stood by Greece throughout this economic crisis and recovery and we are committed to supporting Greece on the path to stability and prosperity. It’s a special privilege for me to be back in Thessaloniki today to underscore the strength of our relationship. Our relationship is stronger than it’s been for generations, and events like TIF are great opportunities to shine attention on that fact and ensure that the ties between Greece and the United States continue to strengthen and grow in the future.
ANA: High-ranking American officials like yourself have mentioned that some of the greatest American companies will be present at this year’s fair. Does this mean that the US government and American businesses see investment opportunities in Greece nowadays?
Cohen: We heard Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ message that Greece is open for business. And we want to demonstrate that the United States means business in Greece. American businesses are coming to Greece for TIF because they see opportunities and we’re encouraging them to come and make available to the Greek consumers and regional market the best that America has to offer.
ANA: Does the fact that the U.S. is participating in a trade fair which is held in northern Greece show its commitment to this part of the country and the region?
Cohen: Absolutely, the fair is an opportunity to promote the American brand throughout Greece and the region, with particular focus on the north. This is my second visit in a year, and we will continue to have high-level visits to northern Greece to demonstrate what I said before, that America means business in Greece – and not just trade and commerce, but political engagement, increasing cooperation on defense and security, conversations about energy and education, and building the fabric that has made our relationship strong so that it’s even stronger and we continue moving in an upward trajectory.
ANA: Are you satisfied by the level of cooperation with TIF’s officials regarding the preparations of the US participation at the fair?
Cohen: It’s excellent. We are very excited about the fair. Things are coming together very nicely. It’s going to be a wonderful week for American companies, for Greek consumers to have access to the demonstrations and conferences that we get. The theme of the US pavilion is going to be “Harnessing the Power of Innovation and Creativity”, and we plan to showcase the American entrepreneurial spirit and leadership that’s driving the ingenuity and creativity in sectors from technology to education. We couldn’t do this without the help and cooperation from the people at HELEXPO – their cooperation has been excellent.
ANA: So in the greater economic sphere is the US administration satisfied by the efforts of the Greek government to build an investment-friendly environment?
Cohen: Look, there’s no question that Greece has been through a very difficult economic crisis and has made difficult decisions and done hard work to implement important reforms. We believe that Greece is turning a corner and showing significant progress, which you can see through economic indicators. I am confident that these early indicators are a forecast of even better things to come. Greece has a great story of resilience and recovery, and a story that we believe the U.S. investors and businesses want to be a part of, and by being involved can help enable further progress. We’re going to do all we can to contribute to that story, but at the end of the day changing the narrative and implementing the necessary reforms is something that only Greece itself can do.
ANA: You accompanied Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Information Minister Nikos Pappas in his visit to the US last February. Would you say that it was a fruitful meeting? Did any cooperation opportunities emerge during that visit?
Cohen: Absolutely. The roadshow that I went on with Minister Pappas was a great example of cooperation on an issue of mutual interest, getting the best US businesses we possibly could to participate in TIF. Our offices work very closely on all aspects of the trip, among the companies we met were Facebook, Netflix, Disney, Paramount, Entertainment Arts, Airbnb, The MIT Media Lab, the Boston Science Museum, Citibank, the Motion Picture Association of America and others. And we expect a number of these to be present at TIF. The week-long effort between the US and Greek governments reflected once again our commitment to the continued stability and prosperity of Greece, to US-Greek relations, and to improving US businesses in Greece, even while we increase the opportunity and exposure of Greek consumers and businesses that benefit from access to the best that the private sector of America has to offer.
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There is strong interest among US companies to participate in the 83rd Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), in which the largest US enterprises will take part, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Cohen said on Wednesday, during his visit to TIF Pavilion 13, which will host the US participation.
Cohen, who is responsible for European and Eurasian affairs at the US State Department, called the USA’s participation in TIF “the most important moment of 2018 for Greek-American relations.”
The US official, who was accompanied by the US General Consul in Thessaloniki Rebecca Fong, met with TIF-Helexpo president Tassos Tzikas and underlined that the participation of the US in TIF as honoured country constituted a success.
On his part, Tzikas presented the prospects for cooperation between American and Greek enterprises, with emphasis on innovation and technology. He also noted that the presence at TIF of major US companies, which are pioneers on the international stage, offered Thessaloniki an opportunity to promote its image in the wider region as hi-tech hub.
Finally, Fong emphasised the high level of cooperation developed with TIF-Helexpo to ensure that the US participation is immaculate.