Greece has become a “key European hub” on energy diversification and this is something that the US supports, said US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt speaking to Athens-Macedonian News Agency on the occasion of his presence at Delphi Economic Forum on Saturday.
The US envoy’s interview with ANA follows:
1. What are the next steps in the strategic dialogue between Greece and USA and what does this mean for the relations between the two countries?
So, this strategic dialogue is deepening and institutionalising our alliance with Greece. I was really delighted that Foreign Minister (Giorgos) Katrougalos brought together such a broad cross-section of the Greek government two weeks ago as we had our first review of the work in December. We now have working groups that are proceeding on investments, on homeland security, we have a good dialogue on defence issues, so all of this intends to keep the progress moving forward, we are committed to having another meeting on the post strategic dialogue by the end of 2019, but we really want to bring this strategic dialogue to everything we are doing.
2. Financial importance of the Prespes Agreement
I am very optimistic about the economic potential of northern Greece and the prospect that Prespes Agreement is going to unlock all of the opportunities for Greece, to deepen its trade investment economic relations with all of its northern neighbours. We are really seeing Thessaloniki recapturing its role as the capital of the Balkans, Greek companies are already some of the largest investors in Skopje, NBG is the largest bank, new projects are happening on energy, electricity. I was very glad to hear from Foreign Minister (of North Macedonia) Nikola Dimitrov this morning that there is a very strong interest from the Northern Macedonian side in building in the sector of cooperation. And I also know by my own travel in Thessaloniki and Northern Greece that companies see opportunities there. I’ll be back in Thessaloniki again next Tuesday, I am going very frequently there and we are going to do anything we can to see that we build on the momentum of TIF and leverage the opportunities that the Prespes Agreement provides.
So it’s obviously very big news and there is a very long road ahead. Exxon will now contact additional drilling to prove the initial findings from the test ground, then they have to make the decision whether they are going to invest billions of dollars that will be required for commercial exploitation and they have to decide how the will bring the gas to the markets, so there is a long process that lies ahead. In the meanwhile, we are going to continue to work here in Greece on all our energy partnerships on Revythousa, IGB, FRSU on Exxon’s offshore exploration with ELPE in southern Crete and the big message is the one I shared in the conference that Greece has clearly emerged as a key European hub for energy diversification and that’s something that the US (…) supports.