Greece is a “pillar of stability,” US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt said on Monday, after he inaugurated a new museum in a border village in north-western Greece.
“I think President Trump was extremely clear about our concerns about Turkey and what needs to be done. There is a very strong model of coordination/cooperation and dialogue with the United States and, as I have said, we believe that Greece is a pillar of stability,” the ambassador said, commenting on recent tensions between Washington and Ankara.
He said that he would be discussing the issue on Tuesday with his colleagues in the Greek foreign ministry when he returned to Athens.
Pyatt said that “the United States considers Greece a regional pillar of stability and a key ally in the effort to promote our common goal, to push all the countries of the Western Balkans towards Euro-Atlantic institutions, towards EU membership, to European-level reforms, and if the peoples opt for it – toward NATO membership. When it comes to the region, it sees the historical and modern opportunities and commercial connections that exist between Greece and all the countries of the Western Balkans and we see Greece as a very important ally in the effort to push all the countries of the region toward our shared democratic values.”
Pyatt earlier cut the ribbon on a new museum in the village of Lia. The Yfantis Museum, named after industrialist Alekos Yfantis who comes from the area, includes three rare paintings by important folk painter Theofilos (c. 1870–1934), who lived and worked in Lesvos and whose paintings had been donated to a local church. Dimitris Sorogas, a well-known contemporary artist who attended the event, has donated four paintings to the museum.
The museum is housed in the old, stone-built village school, which was constructed in 1934 with funds from a Lia emigrant in South Africa. Included in the exhibit are photographs of daily life in the past and of well-known international visitors who came to the village.
The inauguration attracted a large turnout in the village, which lies a kilometer from the Albanian border.
Opening the museum, Pyatt said, “Like many Americans I first learned the history of this region and the difficult experiences of the German occupation and the civil war through the eyes of Nick’s mother Eleni,” referring to Nicholas Gage, who attended the event and is one of three diaspora Greeks from the area featured in the museum exhibits.
The museum “captures one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Greek people: the extraordinary resilience and the strength to carry on. The area had a fantastic potential to do more with tourism and American tourist in this part of Greece,” Pyatt continued.
Gage, speaking of efforts to restore the old building, said that the villages need to be kept alive. “Beauty has its place even in the toughest environment, and the Greek people’s creative imagination can be found even in the most remote areas of our homeland.” [AMNA]