The decisive role played by Greece in NATO’s southern wing, especially in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, was underlined by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Erika Olson, ahead of an official visit by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Washington. As she explained in statements on Wednesday, the crisis in Ukraine makes Greek-American relations even more important and proves the degree to which Greece is essential as an ally.
She also said that much of what defines the relationship is focused on the two countries’ ongoing commitment to promoting the common democratic values and freedoms that unite them, adding that this was even more important given what is happening with the the invasion and the war launched by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine currently dominate the headlines, she noted, adding that the US is grateful that Greece remains a stable and trusted NATO ally that is absolutely essential to the security of the southern wing of the alliance.
Olson acknowledged that Greek-American relations are at an all-time high, a view that now appears to be held in common by various US officials. However, she clarified, the prime minister’s visit is also an opportunity to plan future moves that will further strengthen cooperation. In this light, she estimated that cooperation in the fields of economy, energy, but also the promotion of common values will be at the centre of the visit. As she noted, the prime minister’s visit will underline the positive, multifaceted nature of Greek-US bilateral cooperation.
During his visit to Washington, Mitsotakis will address a joint congressional session. This is the first time that a Greek prime minister has received such an invitation from the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The idea for a speech on democracy was taken on the occasion of the celebration of the anniversary of the 200 years of Greek independence. The Congress thus wanted to honour Greece, recognising that it is the cradle of democracy and that Greek ideals inspired the fathers of the American nation.
Olson explained that Greece and the United States have a very strong friendship and partnership and this is why the US looks forward to welcoming Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis to Washington next week for his meeting at the White House and his historic address to the joint congressional session. She stressed that this is the highest honour that the US legislature can bestow on a foreign leader and is a testament to the enormous bipartisan support that exists for Greek-American relations in the United States.
Under normal circumstances, this speech would have taken place in 2021. However, the delay due to the pandemic places it in the context of the war in Ukraine. The US Secretary of State believes that this fact makes the message of democracy that will be heard in Congress more relevant than ever.
As she stated, democracy and the message of democracy are now perhaps more important than ever, and no other country is more appropriate to talk about democracy than Greece, which is the home of modern democracy. She also expressed the hope that Mitsotakis’ visit will be an opportunity to really highlight these common values at a time when Russian President Putin is invading Ukraine.
Message for regional stability: Disputes must not be resolved through provocative military action
Asked about Turkey’s delinquent behaviour, Olson made it clear that the United States remains fully committed to ensuring stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, adding that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected. She underlined that disputes in the region should be resolved peacefully through diplomacy and international law and not through provocative military actions adding that it is absolutely necessary for the countries to work together to find solutions to long-term problems that will help the stability of the region. Finally, she called on all parties to do so and urged all states to resolve issues related to maritime demarcation peacefully and in accordance with international law.