QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for this interview to ERT, the Greek public television. You met today with Prime Minister Mitsotakis and ministers of the government. What is your sense in terms of doing business? Would you bet your money? Would you invest in Greece?
SECRETARY POMPEO: (Laughter.) As a political figure, Secretary of State, I’m out of that, but if I were back in the private sector I absolutely would. I’ve watched this leadership now 90 days on – we’re three months into their time – and they have already put this country on the right course economically. Slashing red tape, they’re putting this country in a place where it can be reliable and where investors, whether they’re Greek investors or investors from around the world and America, understand that they’ve got a government that’s going to be supportive of what they’re doing and deliver good jobs, good growth, and a healthy economy for this country.
QUESTION: The new Greek Government with Prime Minister Mitsotakis is focused in the economy and maintaining the stability in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Turkey’s jet fighters every day, almost every day, violate the Greek airspace. Also, in Cyprus, Turkey’s – Turkey, with its drilling activities, violates the Turkish – Cyprus’s right to exploit and explore its natural resources. Are you concerned about this tension that it might (inaudible) in the region?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, I’m always worried when there’s a risk that there’ll be a mistake or a miscalculation by any party, whether that’s a miscalculation by Cyprus or Turkey or Greece or any country. One doesn’t want to allow that kind of a mistake, that kind of a misunderstanding, to lead to an escalation. That’s why with respect to the Turkish drilling in those places, we have said, look, we can’t resort to the military to resolve this. We need to find a diplomatic solution to this, a – an economic outcome that delivers the right way.
So yes, I’m always concerned about it. We have these kinds of risks throughout lots of parts of the world, and our efforts, the United States’ efforts, are always very focused on ensuring that these are resolved in an appropriate way.
QUESTION: Are you taking any initiative towards that direction?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So we’re working on it. Our diplomats here on the ground are working and our diplomats working in Turkey are trying to help the people of this region. But it’s also the case, it’s also our expectation, that European countries will engage in this and that they will take this threat, this issue, seriously. It’s important for them to do the same and not just to turn and ask America to settle every hot spot, every tension point around the world.
QUESTION: Within this atmosphere, did you discuss today with the government, the prime minister and the foreign minister, efforts to restart talks for a resolution in Cyprus?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We talked about a lot of things. I think everyone wants to find a path forward. You mentioned Turkey earlier. We had lots of conversations about Turkey. Everyone wants to see Turkey succeed. We want them firmly anchored in the West. It’s been – they’re a NATO partner. We want them to be successful and so we’re working every day. I think the prime minister has said the same. He wants a good, strong relationship with Turkey as well. That requires Turkey to behave in a certain set of ways, a certain kinds of set – a certain set of relationships, and the characteristics of that relationship. I think we’re in a real space to do that.
QUESTION: On this, on Turkey, it seems like the United States take any possible effort not to lose Turkey. Would you describe for us the relation between President Trump and the Turkish president?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, they have a fine relationship. They’ve talked many times. They’ve met each other many times. Each of them is trying their best to find a diplomatic path forward against some very difficult problems. Turkey purchased the S-400; we didn’t want them to do that. But there are other places where, on commerce and the like, we’re trying to work alongside of them. It’s a complicated relationship and one that is worth the effort, and you see, too, today – right, here’s an example. Today we find a country here in Greece that signed a new defense cooperation agreement alongside of us. This is really important. This will change the trajectory of the relationship between our (inaudible). It will truly make it better. It’s not just tomorrow and next week, but for years and years to come. It’ll provide stability in the region. I’ll create more military capability to defend Greece and the region. And it’ll be good for NATO as well, and, of course, for the United States.
QUESTION: On this, the defense cooperation agreement, tell us the main reasons. What was behind this type of decision for the United States? Is it business in Greece, the relations with Turkey? Is it Russian influence in the north of Greece? All of them?
SECRETARY POMPEO: This is about – this is about American national security. President Trump always talks about that. Our mission set, as the Secretary of State for the United States, is to protect America and to keep Americans safe. One of the ways that we do that is to find great partners who are prepared to commit resources and political will behind the problem sets that we confront mutually.
So that was the reason. We have a great (inaudible). This government is, I think, determined to create a tighter military relationship with the United States, to continue its efforts. It’s one of the countries in Europe that spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense, as every NATO country committed to do in the Wales Pledge, and we thank them for that. The Greek people have been very generous, and the Greek people also, I think, understand the risks that exist in the region, and are willing to do what it takes to provide security for themselves and for the larger region.
QUESTION: On defense cooperation again, what’s the immediate benefits and the real gains for Greeks?
SECRETARY POMPEO: You’ve got an American partner who’s going to be here for the long haul.
QUESTION: Also, would the Trump administration consider in some way help the Greek army in upgrade its capabilities with military equipment?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We talked some about that today. We talked about opportunities to upgrade various components of the hardware and software that Greece has. We talked about the potential for other equipment that America might sell and that Greece might buy from another democratic nation. There’s lots of opportunities in that respect. And always think about this, too: If we do this well, if we execute the strategic agreement well, this new defense cooperation agreement, we’ll reduce the need to spend money on defense, right. It’s the case that the reason we do this isn’t to fight wars but rather to deter, and I am confident that the execution of this agreement between our two countries will deter adversaries.
QUESTION: And finally, did you discuss any possible meetings between Prime Minister Mitsotakis and President Trump in the future?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, we talked about it. I don’t have anything to confirm, but we certainly talked about it. The two had the opportunity to have conversations, and I know they’ll continue to talk.
QUESTION: Okay. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
QUESTION: Thank you.