Posted at 1:45 PM
It is wonderful to be here with you today in Athens, and at the Acropolis no less. Here, we can truly appreciate both the modernity of Athens, which is captured in the beautiful design of this new museum, and the rich history and culture of one of the oldest cities in the world, the birthplace of democracy. This is a very special place.
The United States values its longstanding relationship with Greece and the strong ties between our people. In fact, my hometown of Chicago has one of the most vibrant Greek-American communities in the United States. Just about two years ago the National Hellenic Museum opened its new 40,000-square-foot facility in Chicago's Greek Town. It is a very prominent museum dedicated to chronicling the Greek story, including Greece's contribution to America.
Beyond our historical and cultural ties, Greece has been a strong political ally and military partner. We've worked together through NATO, promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, North Africa, the Western Balkans, and beyond.
Similarly, our commercial and economic ties remain very important–and there is the potential for us to do even more business together in the future.
President Obama and I know that the Prime Minister has made—and will continue to make—bold and difficult decisions to keep Greece on the path of fiscal and structural reform, all in an effort to promote growth and overall economic prosperity. This road has been challenging, but progress has been made. Going forward, Greece must not look solely to budget cuts and fiscal tightening, but also to steps that promote growth, jobs, trade, and investment, which will benefit all the citizens of Greece.
Supporting entrepreneurs as well as small- and medium-sized businesses is essential to building the economic future of Greece. Therefore, I applaud the Prime Minister for the Greek government’s work to clarify laws, reduce unnecessary regulations, and lower costs for businesses. We have a strong interest in seeing Greece succeed in these efforts.
Certainly, American companies doing business in Greece can play a role in fostering economic growth. As you move to make the Greek economy more open and competitive, we want to see the presence of American firms here become stronger.
Looking forward, there are many opportunities for our two nations to do more business together. For example, government procurement plays a substantial role in the Greek economy, and it is often a gateway to attracting more private investment from countries such as the United States.
I believe that the Greek government can improve its business environment by continuing to increase transparency in public procurements. Such steps will make it easier for companies to compete in public tenders and thus provide the most cost-effective goods and services in important sectors like energy and health care.
On a broader scale, the United States strongly supports the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The second round of talks took place just last week in Brussels. The Obama administration looks forward to working with Greece to make progress on T-TIP negotiations next year as Greece assumes the EU Presidency. I know that we can reach a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that will stimulate economic growth and job creation both in Greece and the United States.
In closing, let me just say that we know that Greece continues to face tough choices. Greece has made significant strides, but there is more to be done. The Greek people have come too far and gone through too many difficult times to stop these efforts now.
The United States remains a friend to Greece, and we want to see Greece move forward, prosper, and succeed.
I look forward to continuing to work with Prime Minister Samaras. Thank you.