“It is really a great pleasure to accept your kind invitation to attend this very important event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the close cooperation between Greece and the United States of America represented by the ODC (Office of Defence Cooperation), the ex JUSMAGG (Joint Military Aid Group, Greece), which operates since 1947 and performs an important work towards the strengthening of the relation between our two countries.
Greece in 1949, after a decade of destructive events which severely affected its internal structure as well as economic structure, managed, according to historical governmental decision to lay itself under the west influence. There is no doubt that this choice, as it has been historically proven, had greatly contributed to the progress and prosperity of our people.
The support of the USA at this historical crossroad was of determining importance for our future. The Office of Defence Cooperation, through the Marshall Plan, has enormously contributed to this effort which was meant to affect not only the future of our own country, but also the future of the whole region of South-eastern Mediterranean.
Cooperation with the ODC was a decisive step to the post-war course of Greece, since thanks to its support, our country has been able to modernize its structures, reorganize its Armed Forces and to upgrade its military equipment, rendering at the same time its traditional friendship and cooperation with the USA, a solid basis of its foreign policy.
The Marshall Plan took Greece out of the impasse, and laid the foundations for a rapid financial development, allowing Greece to join the European Union. From a zero productive capability after the World War II, we arrived at an economy which began to produce and export.
In parallel, the establishment of an enlarged network of US military bases on the Greek territory demonstrated the importance that the West attached to our country during the Cold War period.
Certainly, its position which stands at the geostrategic hub between Europe, Africa and Middle East, constituted an important factor favouring our cooperation with the USA, which had then assumed the great burden of ensuring security and peace in the whole area.
But even today, our cooperation continues, while the added value of Greece is further increased, given that it forms an axis of stability in the fragile region of the South-eastern Mediterranean and at the same time it is the only country of the region which actively participates, as a full member, in all the international and regional security organizations, such as the UN, NATO, EU and OSCE.
At this point, I would like to point out that my country aspires to the deepening of our ties and to the creation of bonds not only between our two governments, but also between the business communities of our nations, wishing to strengthen the established relations much further.
To this end, the Office of Defence Cooperation (ODC) could play an important role, taking under consideration that our cooperation, particularly in the defence industry sector, could be further developed and become a substantial pillar of our economic and defence relations. Greece can be a very big door to other markets. The industrial structures of our country and the expertise already acquired from the performance of contracts in the area of Defence could enormously contribute to this potential cooperation.
Besides, cooperation between Greece and the USA was and will remain, strong, longstanding and reliable. Our relations certainly go far beyond the typical status of interstate relations.
For this reason, we shall remain firmly committed to our strategic cooperation, both at a bilateral and at a multilateral level, and within the framework of the Alliance.
In these years, we were always on the same side, we were on the same side in the two World Wars, we were on the same side in the Cold War, we were on the same side in Korea, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, we were on the same side in Balkans and that was very difficult for us.
But our choice was to continue to be on the same side with you. And now we are on the same side to fight terrorism which is a very important problem for the whole Europe and the west.
After the last events in the Gulf, we wait the declaration of the Muslim Brothers as a terrorist organization. This must be very important for most countries to make the choice of the side they will be. It is sure that Greece will be on the same side with United States. All the Greek people know very well that the only real ally of our country was the United States of america. Others are allies, but they are only as creditors without respect and that is why because some of them will never forget that they have lost World War II from this country. For this reason we want to be supported from the US at this very difficult moment of our country.
We are very close to the exit of the crisis and the support of Trump administration of US is important to relieve our country, to relieve our country not only for the economy, but also for the security of the whole area. We need the help of US to extend our capabilities for the Navy, to come to operate from Crete to Suez. If we don’t cut now the terrorist financing through the illegal trafficking of drugs, of weapons, of illegal oil, it is impossible to fight terrorism. That’ s why we want your help to extend the capability in the Navy and, in the Air Force, because Greece will every time be on the same side with US.
Greece is considering the extension of the period of our defence agreement. The Prime Minister works for that as well as the whole government. We also worked for that with the Ministry of National Defence, with the Hellenic Armed Forces and with the US Defence Secretary General James Mattis, with US Armed Forces and I feel optimistic that very soon we will be ready to sign not only the extension of the capabilities of our defence cooperation, but also a prolongation for more years.
Thank you very much”.