U.S. trip was successful, said the Prime Minister of Greece. Hopes for increased U.S. investments and political support
Washington, DC.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras thanked the Greek-American Community for the warm reception it extended to his and the government delegation, during his five-day trip to the US, in a series of tweets after his departure from Washington on Thursday to attend the EU summit in Brussels.
“We had many crucial but chiefly productive and constructive contacts in Chicago and Washington in the days that the Greek delegation was in the USA in the framework of our official visit. I cannot help but single out, however, those with our Greek expatriates that live in the US and for many years now preserve in every way the principles, values, traditions and history of our country,” Tsipras wrote.
“Myself personally and the Greek delegation thank you for the warm reception but chiefly for your contribution to our country,” he added.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday said he was content with the results of his visit to the US.
“The trip went extremely well, the main goals were achieved,” Tsipras said in a statement to Greek journalists at the Blair House.
He explained that the main targets were achieved, both in terms of institutional contacts, namely with US President Donald Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence, as well as in his contacts with entrepreneurs, investors, and Greeks living abroad.
“Greece is at a turning point and this is not only reflected in the performance of the economy but also in the investment climate,” he stated.
The interministerial committee for investments held its third meeting at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday, to review Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to the United States in terms of contacts made and investments discussed.
The ministers will review all the meetings held by the premier and his delegation of ministers about American investment opportunities, especially from talks with fund managers and Greek-American leaders.
Tsipras noted that he was impressed by the fact that his contacts with entrepreneurs did not focus on the prior actions and when Greece would implement them, as in the past, but on the chronic problems that had plagued the Greek economy even before the memoranda, such as dealing with bureaucracy, accelerating judicial decisions and a better functioning of state mechanisms. Something that, as he pointed out, shows that “it is now assumed that reforms have been implemented to a large extent and the country is coming out of the support programmes.”
At the institutional meetings, Tsipras said that Greece had the greatest possible support and stressed the importance of President Trump’s statements on the need to support the exit from the crisis, Greece’s comeback, the very important reforms it has made, as well as his call to investors to trust the Greek economy.
Government sources on Thursday underlined that the messages from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to the US reflected Greece’s “upgraded role and prestige over the last two and a half years.”
They explained that at the beginning of the crisis Greece had gone through a period of lacking credibility that was considered identical to default and corruption, while now Greece’s position has been upgraded in the international arena.
Asked about the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) change of stance over the last period, the sources said that the Greek economy has returned to growth and a framework has been set up, based on which the country will meet its fiscal targets. The Fund, they added, sees it is pointless to insist on forecasts and demands that are proven wrong.
Regarding the debate over a planned upgrade of Greece’s fleet of F16 fighter jets, the same sources said that the Greek economy will be burdened with 1.1 billion euros of the 2.4-billion-euro programme, over a period of ten years.
TSIPRAS – TRUMP
U.S. President Donald Trump said his country supports “responsible debt relief” for Greece to assist in its economic recovery, during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.
Trump said talks centered on defense, energy, commerce and trade and expressed support for reforms and investments in the crisis-hit country.
“We’re also making great strides in our economic cooperation. The American people stand with the Greek people as they recover from the economic crisis that has recently afflicted their nation,” he told the press.
“I’ve encouraged the prime minister in his continued implementation of reforms and I have totally reaffirmed our support for a responsible debt relief plan. A strong and flourishing Greece provides immense opportunity for American trade, investment and job creation.”
The president praised Tsipras’ efforts to turn Greece around noting that Americans are standing next to Greeks as they recover from the crisis. He noted the “long and durable” bilateral relations, adding that the U.S. and Greece have a joint commitment to freedom.
Trump also thanked Greece and its government for hosting U.S. Naval Forces in Souda Bay, Crete, and for being one of the few countries that keep their military spending above NATO’s target.
“I also commend Greece on being one of the few NATO countries currently spending at least two percent of GDP on defense,” he said.
Commenting on their bilateral talks, he said that Greece has expressed interest in upgrading its fleet of F-16 military jets. “My administration has also informed Congress of a potential sale to Greece to upgrade its F-16 aircraft. This agreement to strengthen the Hellenic Air Force is worth up to 2.4 billion dollars and will generate thousands of American jobs,” he said.
On energy, the president said he appreciates Greek contributions to European energy security through its support of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector (GBI) and the liquefied natural gas facilities that are capable of transporting diverse sources of energy to Europe, including potential liquefied natural gas exports from the United States.
“These initiatives make both our people safer and create jobs,” he noted.
Trump also mentioned the selection of the U.S. as than honouree at next year’s Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
“I’m very proud that the United States will be the honoured country at next year’s [Thessaloniki] International Fair in Greece. This historic business and trade exhibition will showcase American technology, enterprise and innovation on the world stage,” he said.
Greek-American relations are at their best, possibly since the Second World War, Tsipras said in his turn at the joint press conference, noting that they are based on mutual respect and are fueled by U.S. support in helping Greece exit the crisis.
He said bilateral cooperation is today more important than ever and Athens is looking forward to attracting significant US investments.
“I want to assure you that the meeting was very productive, I never felt threatened. On the contrary I felt there is a fruitful perspective in order to overcome any differences that may exist and to see the common ground that is very important for the relations of our two peoples that are traditional and historical and for our common goals,” he said, responding to a journalist’s question.
Commenting on Greece’s foreign relations, Tsipras urged Turkey to stop its provocations in the Aegean adding the country supports a just and sustainable solution for Cyprus. He said the U.S. can help relieve Greece of its “national concerns”.
Asked about whether he believed Turkey should remain in NATO, he reiterated Greece’s position that it supports both Turkey’s NATO membership and its EU course, noting however that the neighbouring country must respect international law and treaties.
“Greece is following a new dogma of a multi-dimensional foreign policy, with its main objective to upgrade Greece’s role as a country that is a pillar of stability and security in an unstable region,” he said.
MEETING WITH PENCE
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras discussed bilateral relations, the Greek economy, investments and issues concerning Southeastern Europe in their meeting in Washington on Wednesday.
In a readout from Pence’s office, the Vice President congratulated Tsipras for Greece’s return to economic growth and financial markets.
“The leaders highlighted the strong and enduring ties between the United States and Greece. The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Tsipras on Greece’s return to economic growth and financial markets, encouraged further reforms to spur investment, and reiterated U.S. support for credible debt relief,” the text said.
The leaders expressed their desire “to deepen cooperation in the economic and security spheres, including the visit of a high-level delegation to the 2018 Thessaloniki International Fair, where the United States will be the honored country.”
“Pence expressed appreciation for Greece’s role as a pillar of stability in the region, and the leaders reaffirmed their support for the Euro-Atlantic integration of Turkey and the countries of the Western Balkans,” it added.
On Cyprus, the Vice President underscored continued U.S. support for “a comprehensive settlement to reunify Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation and welcomed Greece’s increasing cooperation with Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt in the eastern Mediterranean”.