WASHINGTON - Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis meets at the White House with US President Donald Trump seeking stronger support over Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean and against a deal Turkey made with Libya dividing the seas between them, claiming waters off Greek islands.
The Turkey-Libya agreement causes destabilization, stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on camera at the Oval Office on Tuesday evening, he noted how Greece expects the US's support on the matter and added that his country is an ally the US can rely on.
As the meeting got under way, Trump said the two countries are "doing a lot" together and will continue to do so. "We're going to be meeting, talking, and negotiating a lot of deals," he told reporters at the start of the meeting, Kathimerini reported.
US President Donald Trump referred to the geostrategic importance and history of Greece as he began his meeting with Mitsotakis, whom he welcomed to the White House saying that "it is my honor to have the Greek Prime Minister and the first lady of Greece here, too. Thank you very much for being here. We have a lot to discuss."
Trump described Greek-American relations as amazing and noted how they are the closest they have ever been. He made a special reference to the Greek economy, noting that Greece has managed to recover very quickly.
"Greece and its recovery are a huge success," the US President underlined.
Premier Mitsotakis is accompanied by his spouse Mareva-Grabowski Mitsotaki.
Mitsotakis did also emphasize the potential for improving relations between the two countries in terms of "our geopolitical part, the field of defense in which we have made great progress, and in which we can ensure that Greece will always be a reliable ally in a complex world."
Focusing on the economic aspect of bilateral relations, Mitsotakis noted that "the Greek economy has recovered in recent months, we have reduced taxes," while "in addition, we are following a policy that has also worked well in the US," he added.
Addressing the US President, Mitsotakis said that "we look forward to your positive support, we want US businesses to invest in Greece so that we can expand the economy at a rate so striking that people will really feel the difference."
He pointed out that the US can always rely on Greece as a reliable and predictable partner.
Donald Trump expressed his appreciation for this stance and congratulated Mitsotakis on the performance of Greece's economy.
"In terms of percentage growth, we're talking about one of the biggest rebounds in the world. It's a huge recovery and you have done very well," Trump observed.
From 2010-2018, Greece survived on bailout loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund. It exited the rescue program more than a year ago, but remains under strict supervision from lenders and has committed to achieving stringent budget targets for years to come.
Trump and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met at a time of high stakes in the Mediterranean region. The Harvard-educated Mitsotakis said his country was “following a recipe" that has worked in the United States, including lower taxes, and the Greek economy has reacted positively.
Mitsotakis said he was looking for Trump's support in calling on American companies to invest in Greece. Mitsotakis won office pledging to make the country more-business friendly, cut taxes and modernize Greece's antiquated bureaucracy.
Leading up to the White House meeting, Trump administration officials described Greece as transforming itself from being a source of problems to becoming a source of solutions and stability. The officials noted that Greece recently signed a deal with Israel and Cyprus to build an undersea pipeline to carry gas from new offshore deposits in the southeastern Mediterranean to continental Europe.
The race to claim offshore energy deposits in the southern Mediterranean has created new tensions between Greece and Cyprus, on one side, and historic rival Turkey.
The Trump administration said it supports Greece’s emergence as a regional energy hub and said reliable access to energy is critical to economic development and stability in the region.
Trump said Tuesday's meeting would also cover trade and military issues. It comes as the world grapples with heightening tensions in the Middle East after a U.S. strike killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani.