The United States and Greece have common strategic interests and ambitions regarding the Western Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, the American ambassador to Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt, says in an interview published in Kathimerini’s Sunday edition, a week before the September 8 opening of the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), which this year hosts the US as the honored country.
“[Greece’s] agenda compliments very much our interests and our vision for the wider region whether in terms of the future of the Western Balkans or the importance of dealing with threats like terrorism, piracy, illegal migration in the Eastern Mediterranean or helping to ensure that your big neighbor to the east remains anchored in Europe and European institutions,” Pyatt said.
The American diplomat commended Greece’s role in keeping Turkey anchored to the West, notwithstanding the ongoing standoff between Washington and Ankara.
“It certainly helps us the US to have Greece as a strong advocate within the EU of keeping doors open to Turkey, continuing dialogue on things like how to build on the EU association agreement and making clear that Europe’s door remain open to Turkey,” Pyatt said. “Greece and the US share very similar interests vis-a-vis Turkey.”
Describing Greece as Washington’s “preferred partner” in engaging with nations in the Western Balkans, Pyatt welcomed Greece’s name deal with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) signed in June for unleashing regional economic potential, as well as paving the Balkan country’s path to membership of the NATO military alliance and the European Union.
“Greece strongly shares the US view that all these countries should be able to continue to move towards European and NATO membership if their people so choose,” Pyatt said. “We both believe in the open door [policy], so Greece is a very important partner that will be part of the US political message around the TIF.”
While expressing US support for initiatives like the trilateral agreements of Greece and Cyprus with Israel and Egypt, Pyatt cautioned about the role of “malign actors” in the region. He added that Washington was monitoring Russian engagement and the rise of China as a key and inevitable economic player in the region.