US Ambassador Pyatt: Turkey’s detention of Greek soldiers ‘unacceptable’

The United States views Greece as a pillar of stability in the region and the two countries “share a compelling interest” in supporting regional energy infrastructure projects, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said on Wednesday during his inaugural speech at the Prometheus Energy Lecture, organised by the University of Piraeus. In statements at the event, he was also referred to Greece’s troubled relations with Turkey and the continued “unacceptable” detention of the two Greek soldiers in Turkey.

“I think for the United States, thinking about the challenge of Turkey’s strategic direction, we have no greater ally than Greece,” Pyatt said.

“You have intimate familiarity with Turkey, you have great soft power, but you are also impacted every single day by unpredictable behaviours, whether it is ship collisions in the Eastern Aegean or the unacceptable continued detention of two Greek soldiers, who should have come home in the spirit of our alliance relationship,” he added.

Talking about energy issues, Pyatt emphasised the need for diversification and ensuring that “no country from outside Europe’s Energy Union has the ability to manipulate its resources or leverage its position in the global energy market to extort other nations.”

According to the Ambassador, U.S. investors are also looking at opportunities in energy privatisation, including at Hellenic Petroleum.

“ExxonMobil has expressed its interest in partnership with Total and Hellenic to explore production possibilities in Greek waters. Also, General Electric has expressed its confidence in the wind market, which it sees expanding not only in Greece, but throughout Europe,” he said.

The energy sector offers Greek companies opportunities to expand worldwide, Pyatt noted, including to the U.S. Citing the example of the Greek company TERNA and the wind farms it has built in the US, he noted that Greece has been a leader in building its renewable energy sources and creating expertise.

“I would say that the friendship between Greece and United States has never been stronger, and energy issues – and energy diplomacy – has never loomed as large in its relationship as it does today. The United States will continue to partner with Greece, with the European Commission, and all of our European Allies and partners to advance European energy security, which benefits our shared security and prosperity,” he said.