Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to outline what role he wants Greece to play in the Eastern Mediterranean and discuss the role of the International Monetary Fund when he meets on Tuesday in Washington with US President Donald Trump and on Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence.
US interest in the region is dictated by competition with Russia, the uncertainty in Turkey, the increasing threat of Islamic terrorism and the new energy dynamics of the wider Eastern Mediterranean.
The agenda of their meeting will include military issues (such as the upgrading of the Greek fleet of F-16 military jets), Greece’s effort to become a regional energy hub, as well as the role of the International Monetary Fund in the third review of the country’s third bailout. Tsipras will hope to find answers with regard to the Washington-based fund’s role in the bailout when he meets on Monday with IMF chief Christine Lagarde. According to sources, Athens is aware that Trump wants the IMF to end its involvement with the Greek program.
The Greek premier’s visit to America comes at a time when Washington is positively predisposed to Athens, given the unfolding regional geopolitical situation, which has highlighted Greece’s strategic importance as a beacon of stability – something that Kathimerini has already reported. Tsipras will also seek to make the most of the crisis in American-Turkish relations by making the case that Athens is a reliable partner.
Washington’s warming to Athens is also attributed to the efforts of US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, who, due to the pivotal role he played in the Ukrainian crisis, has established direct lines of communication with all centers of power in the American capital as well as influential think tanks focusing on long-term US foreign policy interests.
Trump himself reportedly has a positive image of Greece as he stated during an event at the White House in March to mark Greek Independence Day.
Moreover, Trump and his associates are well aware that, despite its financial crisis, Greece is one of the few NATO member-countries that spends more than 2 percent of its GDP on defense.
Over the weekemd Tsipras told members of the Greek American business community that Greece is finally coming out of the woods after its protracted financial crisis and is ready to attract foreign investors.
In a meeting Saturday with Greek American businessmen in Chicago, Tsipras said “the Greek comeback is upon us” and reiterated his government’s commitment to luring foreign investors. He added that changes that have been made to the country’s legal framework will make it easier to invest.